Likeable Lichens

Filamentous Lichens at the Beaver Pond
The abundance of lichens is an indicator of good air quality and the varieties can be amazing. Lichens don’t have roots and have to collect moisture from dew and fog deposition, and so end up getting bathed in any chemical and particle pollutants that are around. When walking about in forests with trees dripping with lichens, we can breath deeply – the air is fresh.

A Foliose Lichen
Each lichen is a wonderful team effort at cooperative living. The outside of the lichen shelters both a fungus, and an algae or cyanobacterium. The algal cells can use photosynthesis to produce the essentials for growth. The fungus pokes its way into these cells and joins in the feast and in turn the lichen joins in. They all live happily in a haven of mutualism.

This combination results in a tough species. In 2005 the European Space Agency sent two species on vacation on a Soyuz Rocket and they were left outside for a fortnight to fend for themselves before being brought down to earth with a bump. They were fine, and continued, fit and healthy, as if nothing had happened. An ideal candidate for window boxes on the international space station perhaps. A species steeped in mutualism for a mutualistic endeavor. 

2 Responses so far.

  1. Cool picture, I like how this one actually looks like leaves. But alas nothing about your beautiful walking partner, tsk, tsk.

  2. by the way there is a nice article about beavers and ducks and salmon in the Oregon Quarterly

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