Lichens and Bryophytes of Duranceau Park

The EEOB class traveled to Duranceau Park in search for some lichens and bryophytes.  While we were there we also took a look at some of the flora there. You might be asking yourself, what is a lichen and what is a bryophyte? I will admit they lichens and bryophytes are not the most popular types of plants that people are familiar with but they are still very important to the ecosystem that inhabit them. Let’s start with a definition.

A Lichen is a complex organism that form a symbiotic relationship between fungus and algae that live in close proximity with one another. The specific type of fungus that is typical in lichen mostly belong to the group of fungus Ascomycetes.

Lichens have a very interesting anatomy that can be shown on this page. They are interesting because the anaomty consist of the combination of two different types of plants.

If you look at the photo attached you can see a cross-section of a foliose lichen.  The upper and lower cortex are formed by compressed skin like cells.  In between are “hyphae” which are loose cottony tangled like structure that help fungi get food and secrete digestive enzymes. This is the medulla and rhizines that help attach to surfaces.

 

Lichens occur in three different forms: crustose, foliose, and fruticose.

Custose lichen have a morphology of thin very very tightly attached lichen that grow in a circular pattern. They are also not very thick.

Foliose  lichen are different in that they are flat and leaf like. They are similar in that they grow in the outer margins and in a circular pattern

Fruticose lichen are upright and resemble small trees or bushes . They are long and skinny in the regard to their morphology.

The ecology of lichens are interesting in that there is an assortment of plants and animals where lichens depend on them. For example, birds such as the Northern Parubla warbler will use lichens to help build a nest. The ruby throated hummingbird depends on lichens for their nest building material. Some animals such as fishing spiders will use camoflague with the lichens around them to hunt for food. They depend on lichens for their survival.