This is a macro shot of lichen (Cladonia sp.) with fruiting bodies present (red structures). Lichens are effectively an entire ecosystem contained in a compact package. They are a symbiosis of primarily fungi, algae, and cyanobacteria and they often have other microorganisms living on and around them fulfilling various roles and functions. Despite technically being a combination of different species, the resulting structure doesn't resemble or function as any of its component species, therefore lichens are classified just like other living organisms.
Lichens are absolutely amazing organisms! They can be found in some of the most extreme environments on the planet, from arid to tropical and from frozen to scorching hot. They can grow on almost any surface, even INSIDE solid rock! They are typically among the first pioneer species to reclaim areas destroyed by disturbances such as a volcanic eruption. It is thought that some are the oldest living organisms on the planet! They even produce various metabolites and chemicals that have noted medical applications (e.g., Usnic acid). They are truly impressive!
lichenlichen fruiting bodiesCladoniaCladonia fruiting bodiessymbiosismacroepiphyte