Lichen Growth in Matthiessen State Park and Starved Rock State Park

Publication Date


Document Type



Geography, Geology and the Environment


Lisa Tranel

Mentor Department

Geography, Geology and the Environment


Lichen is a common organism that is found around the globe in various environments that grows on surfaces such as soil, roofs, gravestones, and most importantly exposed bedrock. It is an example of two organisms growing as one in a symbiotic relationship to survive. When properly documented on camera, the lichen growth can be seen growing away from any direct contact with water, and patches varying in size. To collect the data two locations, Matthiessen State Park and a canyon in Starved Rock State Park, were chosen and recorded. The canyon in Starved Rock was a nook that has a waterfall and river flowing through it in the spring, while Matthiessen was a canyon that had a river flowing through the bottom of it. Photos were taken of the canyon walls with tape measures and carvings as scales of size. Once the data were obtained, the information was taken back to the lab and analyzed using Photoshop using the lasso tool to section out the lichen patches from the rock face and the pixel counting tool to calculate the total area of the lichen present. After recording all the data, it was observed that lichen grew away from the waters surface in both canyons but not as much in direct sunlight.



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