Wednesday, March 12, 2008

LICHENS WITH LARRY - Saturday, March 15th

There’s still time to sign up for the next Nature Experienceship. Turn off the Discovery Channel for a day and join the experts live in nature! Nature Experienceships are Bean Museum events in which participants (ages twelve and older) can sign up to learn about a certain nature topic from an expert in the field. The expert often takes the participants on a brief field trip to allow participants to get a better look at nature in action.

This month’s nature experienceship will be led by Dr. Larry St. Clair, a BYU botany professor and the curator of the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum’s nonvascular cryptogams. Dr. St. Clair will talk especially about lichens found in the Rocky Mountains. Each participant will receive a copy of Dr. St. Clair’s book Common Rocky Mountain Lichens.

Why learn about lichens?

1) Lichens are one of nature’s most interesting mini-ecosystems! A fungus and a photosynthetic partner come together in a symbiotic relationship to form something complex and beautiful (Lichens, by William Purvis, page 5). Kind of like people, right? As individuals, we are unique and wonderful, but when we come together in communities, we can accomplish a lot of great things!

2) Lichens are found all over the world, including in some of the weirdest places imaginable— toxic waste piles, Antarctica, on grave stones— and virtually in all other types of environments.

3) Lichens are an important part of understanding our planet’s health. Because lichens are sensitive organisms, pollution can kill them off more quickly than many other organisms in nature. The amount of lichen growth or decline can help scientists to assess air quality in an area! Basically, lichens are one of Earth’s natural pollution-o-meters! (Lichens, by William Purvis, pages 4 and 101)

4) Lichens are beautiful. They come in many beautiful colors and shapes. The pictures below will give you a taste of lichens’ natural beauty.

5) The Bean Museum has one of the largest collections of lichens in the world, which makes this one of the best places to learn about lichens!

We hope to see you this Saturday at the Nature Experienceship. Call 801-422-5051 to sign up. The cost is $10, and included in that cost is admission to the Nature Experienceship and a copy of Common Rocky Mountain Lichens.

This lichen is called Xanthoria candelaria. You can find it on certain trees and shrubs and on rock in western North America.

Check out the lichen on slate boulder rock in the Sierra Nevada foothills in California. It looks like someone splashed paint all over the rock, doesn’t it?

1 comment:

Dr. Kendra Karr said...

For the second image, do you know of public access to these rocks? This is off of the 140, right?thanks.