Weekly Photo Challenge: “Endurance”

Nature is a testament to ENDURANCE:
State of surviving; Power to withstand hardship or stress; durability.
Lichen_7 If I had to choose one organism to wear capital

E

for Endurance…
I would select Lichen- 
Waxpaper Lichen_Parmelia sulcata_foliose_shield lichen_
Symbiotic life form
fueled by algae
supported by fungi.
Dynamic duo
present on Earth
400 million years, 
Lichen_1
advanced through
eons of time while
performing vital ecosystem roles.
Colonizes in places
no others
can survive, 
Lichen_8
pioneer species
able to break down solid rock
into foundations for soil.
Modifies micro-environments
to open the way
for other species to thrive:
Lichen_4
retains moisture
to humidify
forests;
fixes nitrogen
in air
to feed vascular plants.
Able to endure extreme environments-
covering 6% of Earth’s
Land surface.

slow growers,
long-lived …
Unsung ecological super heroes.

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge:Endurance


Science behind this post-

Wikipedia Lichen-  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lichen
Biology Questions and Answershttp://www.biology-questions-and-answers.com/ecological-succession.html
U.S. Forest Service-  http://gis.nacse.org/lichenair/index.php#

8 comments

  1. Interesting that they humidify, since they look so dry themselves. I think that’s what makes them so visually appealing to humans: not only their diverse colours and shapes, but their lack of dampness or sliminess. Long live lichens! 🙂

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    1. It is amazing how these non-vascular plants can endure very harsh conditions. Lichen can survive being dried out, and within minutes, spring back when moisture returns.

      Thinking in terms of lichen in Pacific Northwest rain forests… The ability to absorb and retain moisture is what helps them to retain humidity in a healthy forest ecosystem. I’ve done some further reading and learned that the timber industry is supposed to monitor and preserve a percentage of lichen growth in forests. I’m skeptical of how well this is done given clear-cut harvesting methods and the slow growth rate of lichen.

      I agree with you… long live lichens (in old growth forests?!)

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  2. Beautiful photographs, and fascinating info!

    Since moving to Norway, I learned that lichen is essential to the reindeer’s survival (not from first-hand experience, but from conversations with my husband learned when he visited the Sami people in the north) … but I didn’t know all the other facts you presented.

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    1. Your mention of the Reindeer reminds me of an episode we watched on public television a few weeks ago about a young woman who is responsible for guiding her family’s reindeer herd across a river so they can winter in an area rich with lichen. Without the lichen, the herd would starve during the winter months.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the photos, Cindi. I agree with you, lichen is fascinating. Also have discovered that lichen is used to monitor air pollution. Scientists can tell a lot about air quality in a given area from lichen sample testing. Do you suppose that lichen may reveal information critical to our own endurance on Earth?!

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      1. We moved from closer to the city out to our specific area of Norway about 18 months ago; it’s wild enough to find lichen on the pine trees in our yard and surrounding woods, and on the rocks when out walking (but no reindeer down at this elevation). I haven’t noticed a change in the look of that lichen, but the pine trees this late summer/early autumn seem to be turning brown more than I noticed a year ago — the tips of some, whole branches and trees of others. My husband read an unsubstantiated report that theorized that it’s an effect of the Fukushima disaster. Whether it’s really that, or the other crap we humans produce (or, maybe?, just the natural life cycle of these trees that are buffeted by strong North/Norwegian Sea winds) … it’s so scary. What are we doing to our beautiful Earth?! What are we leaving for future generations?

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        1. Cindi-
          It would be alarming if Fukushima had an effect on trees in Norway. I don’t want to even think that could be possible…
          Pine needles don’t grow indefinitely. I just made a quick google inquiry. Although this article is from a landscape business, it seems credible-
          http://www.bountifulgardencenter.com/uploads/handouts/Pine%20Needle%20Drop.pdf
          A starting point for further research, at the least.

          I fully empathize and agree with your last statement/question. All during my Oregon Master Naturalist coursework and fieldstudies I felt a tug of war between feeling encouraged and discouraged by human impact/attitudes toward Nature. I am hopeful that growing concerns, realizations, and actions by those who are aware will tip the scale in Earth’s favor. Encouraging to think that a global conversation about climate change recently occurred at the UN. In the meantime…if every citizen of Earth found a small way to effect change- that could be a step forward. An example here, our water utility set a goal to plant one million trees in our watershed over the next year. People in the community are invited to pitch in and participate in “Tree for All” campaign.
          -Jane

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