Did You Know?

Lichens are indicators of forest health 

There is a rich variety of lichen on trees in the Baille Ard old growth forest.  Bring along a magnifying glass and take time to study some along the trails.

Lichens have been identified as valuable indicators of forest health; however, there are no comprehensive datasets on which lichens are indicative of forest health in Canada. An analysis of the existing literature reveals a large number of lichens that can be used to monitor levels of various pollutants (general pollution: 51 species; sulphur dioxide: 42 species; photochemicals: 23 species; fluoride: 18 species; heavy metals: 3 species; acid precipitation: 8 species; sulphite: 2 species; nitrate: 2 species). The use of lichens as indicators of climate change is also reported in the literature ……

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Here is some background on fungus.

How a fungus lives .

Fungi characteristics:  Fungi live almost everywhere on land and in water. Some fungi are parasites that feed on living plants and animals. Other fungi, called saprophytes, live on decaying matter. Still other fungi live together with other organisms in ways that are mutually beneficial. Such a relationship is called symbiotic. For example, a fungus and an organism called an alga may live together symbiotically to form lichen. Some fungi also live with the roots of plants in a symbiotic relationship known as a mycorrhiza. The fungus takes carbohydrates from the plant. In return, the fungus helps supply the plant with water and such important minerals as phosphorus, potassium, iron, copper, and zinc. Most species of trees, shrubs, and herbs have mycorrhizal relationships with fungi.

 

Mycorrhiza is the symbiotic association of the mycelium of certain fungi with the roots of certain higher plants, living in close relationship with the surface cells. Ex. It is possible with many, if not all, species of plant, which normally form mycorrhizas in natural conditions to grow them in artificial surroundings without their appropriate fungi.

 

Fungi cannot produce their own food because they do not contain chlorophyll. They take carbohydrates, proteins, and other nutrients from the animals, plants, or decaying matter on which they live. Fungi discharge chemicals called enzymes into the material on which they feed. The enzymes break down complex carbohydrates and proteins into simple compounds that the hyphae can absorb.