Monday, September 15, 2014

IPM (Integrated Pest Management)

"IPM is a sustainable approach to managing pests by combining biological, cultural, physical and chemical tools in a way that minimizes economic, health and environmental risks."

Dr Abe V Rotor

Pillars of Integrated Pest Management

One of the primary missions of IPM is to help growers produce profitable crops using environmentally and economically sound approaches. These IPM tools contribute to a system that produces high-quality, safe, and affordable foods and other agriculturally related products. For many growers, IPM helps balance pest management with profitable crop production and environmental protection. IPM also reaches beyond agriculture to include pest management in landscape and home settings.

Pest management alternatives
IPM incorporates several pest management strategies to maintain crop profitability, minimize pest selection pressures, and minimize environmental impacts. Once a pest exceeds the economic threshold or reaches a threatening level, it is necessary to determine the best way to prevent unacceptable yield losses. Economic thresholds integrate the crop value and management costs with biological information on the relationship between pest injury and yield. The cost, safety, benefits, and risks of employing various management strategies are weighed and evaluated.


Cultural (agronomic practices)
  • Selecting plant resistant varieties (Example: Growing resistant varieties of rice reduce incidence of tungro; wheat for reducing severity of wheat stem sawfly.)
  • Crop rotation (Examples: rotation of rice and sweet potato crops reduces infestation of s potato beetle – Cylas formicarius.  Levels of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, white mold, are reduced by crop rotation to non-susceptible hosts; common hosts of Sclerotinia in North Dakota are dry beans, sunflowers, soybeans, and canola.)
  • Cultivation, tillage practices (Example: Cultivating row crops reduces herbicide applications.)
  • Variation of planting or harvesting dates (Example: Delayed planting of sunflowers until late May or early June reduces sunflower stem weevil and sunflower beetle densities.)
  • Plant spacing (Example: Narrower row spacing favors development of plant diseases due to environmental conditions within the crop canopy. More moisture on plant surfaces and higher relative humidity favors conditions for infection, such as with white mold in soybeans.)
  • Fertilization level (Examples: A crop with balanced fertility levels has greater capacity to resist disease organisms and a greater capacity to compete with weeds. Too much nitrogen fertilizer in crucifers like cabbage and cauliflower predispose them to Pythium debaryanum and other kinds of bacterial and fungal diseases. )
  • Sanitation (Example: Cleaning out storage areas or grain bins helps prevent infestations of stored grain insect pests, like rice weevil – Sitophilus oryza.)
  • Planting pest-free seed (Example: Planting disease-free seed or using seed treatments with a fungicide will help protect germinating seed and seedlings from seedling blight.)
  • Planting trap crops (Example: A trap crop consists of a field margin planted to an early maturing sunflower that surrounds the remaining sunflower field area. The margins flower earlier than the remaining field interiors and attract the red sunflower seed weevil first. As a result, the trap crop concentrates the weevils in a smaller area reducing the cost of insecticide and time required for control.)
Mechanical
  • Cultivation (Example: Clean tillage between field rotations decreases the establishment of new weeds, especially perennials.)
  • Hand weeding (Example: Removing weeds by hand is only practical for use by the home gardener, organic grower or researcher, although sugar beet growers will often hire labor for hand weeding.)
  • Exclusion using screens or barriers (Example: Banding trees with Tanglefoot to control cankerworms.)
  • Trapping, suction devices, collecting machines (Example: Walk-through fly trap removes horn flies from range cattle; apple maggot trap in home orchard.)
Physical
  • Heat (Example: Burning surface residues, soil pasteurization.)
  • Cold (Example: Cold storage of potatoes to prevent storage rot.)
Biological
  • Augmentation of natural enemies (Example: Simple sugar solutions can be used as artificial honeydew to promote aggregation of adult lady beetles in aphid infested crops.)
  • Introduction of parasites or predators (Example: Releasing biocontrol agents (Aphthona flea beetles) to control noxious weeds (leafy spurge).
  • Propagation of diseases of pests (Example: Bacterial agents (Bacillus thuringiensis) for natural control of insect pests like Colorado potato beetle or European corn borer.)
  • Protection of biological agents (Examples: spiders, preying mantis. Raising ducks on ricefield to control golden kuhol – Pomacea caniculata.)
Chemical
  • Herbicides, Insecticides, Fungicides
  • Miticides or Acaricides 
  • Nematicides, Mollusicides
  • Rodenticides, Avicides (maya)
  • Biological pesticides (Examples, Bacillus thuringiensis bio-insecticide, insect molting inhibitors)
  • Defoliants (2-4,D Amine and 2-4,d Ester),
  • Desiccants

Steps of IPM

Scouting or monitoring
The purpose of scouting is to detect the presence, concentration, and type of pests. Scouting involves a regular and methodical procedure to quantify field information needed to make sound pest management decisions. Field observations are used to make immediate IPM decisions as well as record part of the field's history for making rational decisions in the future.


Identification
Properly identifying pests is an important aspect of scouting. Natural enemies that help keep pests in check are also present in fields, so it is important to recognize these friends. For example, certain insects, such as Syrphid flies, may be abundant in a field but do not cause crop damage. Knowledge of specific insects, weeds, or diseases in a field is important for IPM decision-making. Pest levels can vary greatly from one field to another. Each individual field should be scouted thoroughly without bias even though the fields may appear similar.


Pest situation assessment
In the third step, scouts analyze information obtained from scouting and pest identification and determine the need for pest control. One question is whether or not the damage potential is more costly than the control cost. The economic threshold plays an important role in IPM decisions and is defined as when there are enough pests present to warrant treating the crop. Keep in mind that economic thresholds are developed for average conditions. In unusual situations, such as drought stress, thresholds may have to be altered. Furthermore, economic thresholds may not be available for certain pests, so assessment may have to be based on general guidelines about the pest population.


Implementation
Once the management strategy (or strategies) has been selected, it should be employed in a timely manner. Cultivation or using herbicides on weeds, for example, must be done at the proper stages of development of the weed and the crop for greatest impact. IPM integrates several different pest management strategies when feasible.


Evaluation
Did IPM work? Compare the pest activity before and after implementation of IPM strategies. Review what went wrong and what went right. Was the pest properly identified? Was the field sampling unbiased? Was the choice of control based on sound judgment or outside pressure? What changes to the system would make it better?

IPM benefits

New products and innovative methods
New IPM products and methods are developed and extended to producers to maximize yields. Potato growers use a forecasting model to make accurate predictions of early and late blight development for specific potato production areas


Reduced crop loss through improved timing and efficiency of IPM strategies
For farmers this means producing high-quality, affordable products. For society, it means maintaining safe and ecologically sound environments. Calculating growing degree days and determining economic thresholds during field monitoring has resulted in successful prediction, detection and economic control of this pest.


Judicious use of pesticides decreases environmental impacts
As researchers develop environmental friendly ways to manage pests, IPM practitioners have helped farmers reduce unnecessary pesticide use.  Minimized use of pesticides has allowed the return of indigenous edible species growing in ricefields like dalag, hito, martiniko, ulang, kuhol and others


Increased partnership
IPM Programs are being incorporated by growers, crop consultants, and industry into crop production systems, and have increased collaboration between private and public stakeholders. Farmers’ Cooperatives and Irrigation Associations are the best local institutions to adopt IPM. This has been shown by the Farmers Associations of Taiwan, communes in China, and Moshav in Israel.

 
The success of IPM depends on community awareness and action, through media such as the use of posters (left), TV-Radio, Inrternet, magazines and newsletters, and commemorative stamp (Trichogramma wasp for biological control in DPR Korea). 

Take time and live well

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class Monday to Friday

Time brings forth all things to bloom and to ripen. Time is the signature of life, the author of all authors. Time is the greatest asset, the greatest innovator, the greatest healer, the greatest redeemer, yet the greatest loss and final end.

Nothing, but nothing in this world is ours except time. With it we dream, we laugh, we love. Take it from the Ecclesiastes.


"Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour."
(William Blake, Auguries of Innocence). Google Ads screensaversky.com

To every thing there is a season, and a time of every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast stones, and a time to gather stones together;

A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
Ecclesiastes iii, 1-8
"Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that's the stuff life is made of."
Benjamin Franklin - Poor Richard's Almanac

Controlling Pest with Other Organisms

"There is no way to escape pesky creatures. Conflict arises where their populations overrun our crops, spoil or stored products, and threaten our health and welfare. We have set thresholds of co-existence. As long as they do not cross this line, I think it is all right to be living with them, to ponder at the beauty of their wings, the fire they carry, the song they make, the magnitude of numbers, or simply to marvel at the mystery of their existence." avr
Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class Monday to Friday

It is a common practice to remove unsightly cobwebs. But come to think of it. We are destroying natural insect traps built by spiders. Inside warehouses spiders prey on weevils and moths that destroy grains and other commodities. 

Ducks feed on golden kuhol which became a major pest of rice. They also feed on insects and weeds for which they are important as biological agents in controlling pests. 

So with mosquitoes and flies at some corners of the house. No radar system or other echolocation instruments can detect the fine web, which makes this indigenous trapping devise.

On plants stalk the preying mantis that snatches its victim with one deadly grasp. The spotted ladybug overruns a colony of aphids and has its fill, unless the red ants guarding the aphids come to the rescue. A nest of hantik up in the tree has an army by the thousands. They swarm on intruders and large preys such as caterpillars.

Under the microscope one could examine the unsuspecting Trichogramma. Mass culture and dispersal of this parasite wasp has benefited sugar and corn planters since its discovery in the fifties.

Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt, has become the most popular entomophagous bacterium against Lepidopterous pest which include rice stem borers and corn borers. Applied as inoculums, Bt can cause widespread epidemic on these pests on the field.

Practical Pest Control at Home

Here are pest control techniques you can adopt at home.

1. To control furniture weevil and moths destroying the felt and the wood of the piano, place a dozen well dried black pepper (do not crush) in the piano chamber near the pedals. Paminta is a good repellant and has a pleasant smell.

2. Coconut trees whose shoots are being destroyed by rhinoceros beetle (Oryctis rhinoceros) can be saved with ordinary sand. If the trees are low, sprinkle sand into the leaf axils. Sand contains silica that penetrates the conjunctiva, the soft part of the body where hard chitinous plates are joined.

3. Bean weevil destroying stored beans, especially mungo, can be control by mixing a little ash of rice hull (ipa’) with the same principle as in rhinoceros beetle.

4. To get rid of nematodes in the soil, incorporate chopped or ground exoskeleton (skin) of shrimps into the soil, preferably mixing it with compost. Chitinase is formed which dissolves the cover of the egg and the body of the organism. Use poultry dropping to reduce nematode population.

5. To control cucurbit fruit fly, cover the newly formed fruits of ampalaya and cucumber with paper bag. Bagging is also practiced on mango fruits. Use newspaper (1/8 of the broadsheet) or used paper, bond size. Roll the paper, two inches in diameter, insert the young fruit, fold at the top and staple. Bagged fruits are clean, smooth and light green. Export quality mangoes were individually bag on the tree.

6. To discourage goats in nibbling the trunk of trees, paint the base and trunk with manure slurry, preferably their own. To keep termites away from mud-plastered walls, use termite soil (anthill or punso).

7. Raise ducks to eat snail pest (golden kuhol) on the farm. Chicken and birds are natural insect predators.

8. An extra size mosquito net can be made into a mini greenhouse. Here you can raise vegetables without spraying. You can conduct your own experiments such as studying the life cycle of butterflies.

9. There are plants which have repellant properties. Plant them around the garden. Examples are lantana (Lantana camara), chrysanthemum, neem tree, eucalyptus, madre de cacao (Gliricida sepium), garlic, onions, and kinchai.

10. To scare birds that compete for feeds in poultry houses, recycle old balls, plastic containers, styro and the like, by painting them with two large scary eyes, imitating the “eyes” on the wings of butterflies and months. Hang them freely where birds frequent the area. To scare off birds in the field, dress up used mannequins. They are more effective than the T-scarecrow. Cassette tapes tied along the field borders produce sound that scare maya and other pests.

Insects as Food

One practical means of insect control is by gathering them to supplement nutrition. Gathering of insects for food is not only confined among primitive societies but is still one of the practical means of controlling insects. Anyone who has tasted camaro’ (sautéed mole cricket) would tell you it is no different from a crustacean. Well, insects and shrimps belong to the same phylum – Arthropoda.

Locust may destroy crops, but in a way bring food to its victims. During a swarm, locust is gathered by the sacks and sold for food and animal feeds. So with gamu-gamu (winged termites) at the onset of the rainy season, which is also the time of emergence of salagubang, another insect delicacy. Other food insects are the grubs of kapok beetle, eggs of hantik, larvae of honeybee and cheese maggots.

When is a pest a pest?

When we see an insect, instinct tells us to kill it. It should not be. A caterpillar is a plant eater, but the beautiful butterfly that emergence from it is harmless. In fact it is an efficient pollinator. Hantik ants make harvesting of fruits very inconvenient because of their bite and sting, but they guard the trees from destructive insects. Houseflies carry germs, but without them the earth would be filled with dead bodies of organisms. They are nature’s chief decomposers working hand in hand with bacteria. Termites may cause a house to fall, but without them the forest would be a litter of fallen trees.

It is natural to see leafhoppers on rice plants, aphids on corn, bugs in the soil, grasshopper on the meadow, borers on twigs, fruit flies on ripening fruits. These organisms live with us under one biosphere. And if the rule is for us to dominate them, for all we know they have been dominating the earth for millions of years, even before mankind was born.

There is no way to escape pesky creatures. Conflict arises where their populations overrun our crops, spoil or stored products, and threaten our health and welfare. We have set thresholds of co-existence. As long as they do not cross this line, I think it is all right to be living with them, to ponder at the beauty of their wings, the fire they carry, the song they make, the magnitude of numbers, or simply to marvel at the mystery of their existence.

Green pond frog and preying mantis are friends of the farmer - they are predators of 
pest attacking crops in the field.


  
Nest of hantik ants, another predator of insect pest. Burning is a practical way of getting rid of insect pest. Burning is however, generally discouraged because it deprives the farm of valuable organic matter, feeds for livestock, and materials for mulching and mushroom culture.


Reference: 
Living with Nature in Our Times,by AV Rotor, UST Publishing House, Manila.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Record the Passing of Seasons in Paintings. Prepare for the coming of the Amihan.

The best thing we kids on the farm look up to, is the tail end of the habagat season, and the arrival of the amihan season when the water in rice fields recedes into small ponds and pockets of pools. These are waterholes like oases in the desert. There is no place the trapped fish can go. With a bucket or can to empty the remaining water we then picked up the these trapped creatures - catfish (hito) snakehead (dalaggurami, martiniko, tilapia, crayfish (ulang), shrimps, bagsang, kuhol and suso. And we would take them home to the delight of our old folks. Meantime we had our kites ready on the field among harvesters and the haystacks.  

Paintings and Story by Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class Monday to Friday
Amihan - kite flying season

Family picnic by a running stream

When I was a child I anticipated most of all the arrival of the first strong rain of May. It comes as a downpour, and we boys would scoop the falling rain and rub our navel to prevent "kabag," so says our old folks. We would rush out to the road and field shouting for joy in the deafening sound of rain, wearing the barest - or none at all. Actually the thunderstorm is brief and we run back home to take anything hot - soup, rice coffee or chocolate.

Acid rain was unheard of then. There was no need to take a shower. Old folks would tell us while rubbing our body dry, that the first rain tempers the body and makes us grow faster.

The next best thing we kids on the farm monitor is the tail end of the habagat season when the water in rice fields recedes into small ponds and pockets of pools. These are waterholes like oases in the desert. There is no place the trapped fish can go. With a bucket or can to empty the remaining water we then picked up the these trapped creatures - catfish (hito) snakehead (dalaggurami, martiniko, tilapia, crayfish (ulang), shrimps, bagsang, kuhol and suso. And we would take them home to the delight of our old folks.

Harvestime

By October the Amihan season starts. It's the cold Siberian wind that blows in all the way from the north sweeping the ripening rice field. How willing we kids were in lending a hand to the rice harvesters. But really we had another agenda - kite flying! We would whistle while we work, and our old folks knew we were calling for the wind to come. All of a sudden we would abandon work. There were no such thing as unfair labor practices and child labor laws then. Things would come and go so naturally, a frown turns to smile. Because the harvesters were once kite-flying boys.

Summer is when the spring is at its clearest, gently flowing down the river to the estuary where fish from the sea and river meet. Fishing is the name of the game here - the biggest, the most catch, the rarest kind. Along Bantaoay river we caught mullet (banak or purong Ilk), and sidingan (single spotted fish) and the strong baraongan. Summer and fiesta are inseparable. Our gang of kids in the neighborhood woulkd "invade" town after town. We participated in slingshot target, palo sebo (climbing greased pole), tug-of-war, break the pot, sack race, sipa, breaking the egg, and a host of indigenous games. It was summer Olympics of sort, rural style.

When you are a child time flies, and before you know it summer is over. Our old folk would then prepare us for the next schoolyear. They often wonder how come we had outgrown our clothes and shoes in so short a time. And where have all the pen and paper and books gone?

Catching fish on the terraces

One time I came across an article, What is the Happiest Season of Life? I treasure this article because it talks beyond the level experience. It is philosophy - philosophy of man - a subject I took up in the graduate school under Dr Florentino H Hornedo, a well known social scientist and writer. Here is an excerpt.

A wise old man, who had lived buoyantly through four score years, was asked, “Which is the happiest season of life?” He replied thoughtfully.

“When spring comes, and in the soft air the buds are breaking on the trees, and they are covered with blossoms. I think, how beautiful is Spring!

And when the summer comes, and covers the trees and bushes with heavy foliage, and singing birds mingle with branches, I think, how beautiful is Summer!

When autumn loads them with golden fruit, and their leaves bear the gorgeous tint of frost, I think, how beautiful is Autumn!

And when it is sore winter, and there is neither foliage nor fruit, then when I look up through the leafless branches and see, as I can see in no other season, the shining stars of heaven, I think, how beautiful is the Winter of life!

Now that I am old I look back at those childhood years. Those were beautiful, nostalgic years. They are still part of me. I make kite for my youngest son, fish with my eldest, play music with Anna, cook with Cecille and the whole family. And I write about the old folks that taught me all these.

And when the leaves of the talisay tree turn to yellow, then to orange and purple, I know the Amihan has arrived. The Siberian wind blows, and one by one the leaves fall, revealing one or two kites flying in the sky. How beautiful are the seasons coming one after the other making a wholesome Life Cycle.

x x x

It's Harvest Time!

Dr Abe V Rotor 
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class Monday to Friday

Painting and Verse by Abe V Rotor

Midas touches all – from the grains to the sun sinking,
And the grains become beads of jewels, heavy, gleaming,
In October amihan where children with kites meet,
Bringing all life forms together in retreat.

Music -  the rustling of the grains and the singing
Of the harvesters and flocks of maya birds flying,
While haystacks, like giant mushrooms, grow big and tall,
Living symbols of the Good Life for all.

Of all the seasons, Amihan creates the greatest view,

When the colors of the rainbow come sweetly low.
Vivaldi, Rembrandt and Amorsolo – they were touched- 
In their hearts, their lives, and their art. ~

Friday, September 12, 2014

Lichens and Mosses are Nature's Indicator of a Healthy Environment

The Greater Lagro Gazette 
(For Vol. 7 No. 2, July to August 2014)
Special Report: Living with Nature


Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class Monday to Friday


Ecologists are learning from lichens and mosses as natural indicators, a sort of barometer, of environmental conditions.  They thrive best where the air is clean; temperature change is moderate, so with relative humidity, the vegetative cover undisturbed, the rivers and lakes full. From various observations and scientific researches, it is believed that lichens and mosses and their kind thrive best where man's intervention is least – or none at all.  
        
Top photo: Country lass poses with living specimens of lichens and mosses growing on ilang-ilang tree. Lower left photo: A closeup of lichens and mosses around a cast skin (exoskeleton) of cicada (kuliglig) which has just emerged. Right: A lichen-bryophyte complex found on cycad. Its species composition is unknown. It is a good subject of study. All these organisms are biological indicators of a good environment in Greater Lagro. They are Nature’s barometer of good climate and clean air.  

The Lichens – Earliest and longest known model of symbiosis  

A lichen is a group of two distinct genera of different kingdoms in the phylogeny of living organisms - alga (Kingdom Protista) and fungus (Kingdom Mycophyta) or in other cases bluegreen (Cyanophyta, Kingdom Monera) - living inseparably, a relationship developed through millions of years of evolution.  

Instead of each member developing its own adaptation, the two joined forces so to speak, in order for both to survive.  It is a perfect example of evolution through
cooperation, instead of competition as in most cases of evolutionary success.

The alga being photosynthetic manufactures food which it shares with the fungus.  The fungus on the other hand, being saprophytic, converts organic matter back into elemental forms which the alga again uses. Such a relationship consists of an enduring cycle - season in season out, year in year out, covering a span of hundreds if not a thousand years. Such a feat is among the wonders of the living world. If the
Redwood or Sequioa is the longest living individual which is estimated to be up to three thousands years, the lichen is the longest living union (mutualism). 

The key to such success through mutualism lies not only in highly efficient nutrient exchange, but gas exchange principally CO2 and O2, as well, more so, for their ability to transform rocks into living mass which they share with other living things in their own time and in the future. They are the precursors of succession in the living world. Which points out to another evolutionary tool - benevolence - the sharing of resources albeit destructive competition. 

Yet lichens are found in the most difficult areas like the Arctic and desert, on rock cliffs, even dilapidated and abandoned structures. Their resistance as well as vulnerability to changing environment has led scientists to use the lichen not only as environmental  indicator, but as pioneer organisms of a young ecosystem.

How do you rate the place you are living in?

Left, crustose lichen; foliose lichen (leaf-like)


Young colony of squamous-foliose type of lichen on the trunk on acacia. Note its spreading and coalescing growth that will soon carpet a large area. Lichen is a closely knit association of algae and fungi in a state of symbiosis.

Fruticose lichen (right) hangs on  tree trunk. In spite of its epiphytic nature it does not harm its host because it is not parasitic. It shares however with the water and nutrients collected by the tree from rain and dust, as well as from the gradual wearing out of the bark tissues. 



Leave Nature Alone
There is a simple old man living a hermit’s life close to the summit of Mt Pulag in Benguet.  It is reminiscent of the American philosopher Henry David Thoreau who lived by a pond (Walden Pond) deep in a woodland far away from town. Here on the country's second highest mountain, 'Tang Ben, when asked on how Nature is kept pristine, simply quipped with confidence and sparkle in his eyes. "Just leave Nature alone."  ~   
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Lichens are indicators of clean air, in the order of increasing pristine condition: crustose, foliose, fruiticose.  How do you rate the place you are living in?

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It has been estimated that 6% of the Earth's land surface is covered by lichen. Lichens are informally classified by growth form into:

· crustose (paint-like, flat), e.g., Caloplaca flavescens
· filamentous (hair-like), e.g., Ephebe lanata
· foliose (leafy), e.g., Hypogymnia physodes
· fruticose (branched), e.g., Cladonia evansii, C. subtenuis, and Usnea australis
· leprose (powdery), e.g., Lepraria incana
· squamulose (consisting of small scale-like structures, lacking a lower cortex), 
                      e.g., Normandina pulchella
· gelatinous lichens, in which the cyanobacteria produce a polysaccharide that absorbs  and retains water.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Bryophytes, Bridge of Evolution in the Plant Kingdom.


“Ah, but what good is a rock when it loses the essence on which life arises?”  avr
 
Imagine a lowly moss as a tree, and a liverwort as a large green carpet shaped like a liver. A hornwort has pinnacles in Gothic style. It is when you are small that you see small things big, and big things present themselves as giants.

Bryophytes are the dwarves of the plant kingdom, while the true or vascular plants are the giants. Mosses and liverworts are the early forms of plants, which botanists believe to have stopped evolving. What they were millions of years ago are what they appear today. They are living fossils.Observe a piece of rock covered with bryophytes. Under the magnifying lens you are looking at a miniature forest. It is thick and every space is taken by structures that look like stalks, leaves and other parts. On closer look these are not true organs because they lack vascular tissues, which in higher plants are for conduction of water and food and in providing support to the plant.

Since bryophytes are short-lived and seasonal, the soil deposit becomes thicker in each generation, while the borders extend to new frontiers. Soon whole trunks of tree, walls and rocks become covered like green carpet. As the bryophyte community reaches its peak and climax, more and more organisms become dependent on it. Insects frequent the place as a hunting ground for their prey. In turn predators of insects like amphibians and reptiles follow, then birds of prey – and a food web is formed.

Close-up of moss growing on a tree trunk. 

Feel the softness of a carpet of mosses on the wall or rock. It is thick and spongy. Now this is important because when it rains the carpet absorbs and stores water. In the night and in the morning dew precipitates and settles down making the surroundings cool.

Months, years pass. New plants rise out in the middle of the carpet. You are witnessing plant invasion. Soon the bryophytes will lose their dominance to ferns, and ferns to tracheophytes - annuals, biennials and trees. This is how an ecosystem is made together with its biodiversity.  This is how the La Mesa reservoir complex was made through thousands of years – a part of which is Lagro, the community in which we live today.

“What good is rock when it loses the essence from which life rises?”  Ask the lichen and the moss,  et al. ~

Luxuriant growth of moss; close-up of dewdrops clinging on moss.  



Two common bryophytes, liverwort (left) and moss in their reproductive stages. Bryophytes make a carpet of soil which is actually a combination of organic matter and minerals from weathered rock surface. Bryophytes produce acidic substances that break down compounds of calcium, phosphates and other materials. Through time with the process continuously repeated, soil builds up to the advantage of invading plants. A prototype ecosystem arises with the lichens and bryophytes taking the back seat. Biologist, Dr Anselmo S Cabigan examines lichens and brophytes growing on trees.

  

Lichen - Nature's Barometer of Healthy Environment

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio 
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday
It's all skin, its owner makes the loudest and longest love
song among trees - the male cicada (kuliglig). Take note of the lichens growing on the trunk of an ilang-ilang  tree.  They belong mainly to the foliose type.  The thick dark green growth on the upper part is moss, a bryophyte.  Bryophytes are the simplest member of the plant kingdom. They are indicators of good climate: abundance of rainfall and high relative humidity. 
 

The fact is, lichens play a symbiotic role with the host tree, a relationship whereby the lichens gain foothold that enable them to reach out for the sun and to occupy space with least competition with other organisms. One the other hand, the tree is protected from pest and effects of environmental change like drought.   

The lichen in itself is an interesting specimen.  A lichen is actually a group of two distinct genera of different kingdoms in the phylogeny of living organisms - alga (Kingdom Protista) and fungus (Kingdom Mycophyta) or in other cases bluegreen (Cyanophyta, Kingdom Monera) - living inseparably, a relationship developed through the long and uncertain process of evolution.  

Instead of each member developing its own adaptation, the two joined forces so to speak, in order for both to survive.  It is a perfect example of evolution through
cooperation, instead of competition as in most cases of evolutionary success. 

The alga being photosynthetic manufactures food which it shares with the fungus.  The fungus on the other hand, being saprophytic, converts organic matter back into elemental forms which the alga again uses. Such a relationship consists of an enduring cycle - season in season out, year in year out, covering a span of hundreds if not a thousand years. Such a feat is among the wonders of the living world. If the
Redwood or Sequioa is the longest living individual which is estimated to be up to three thousands years, the lichen is the longest living union (mutualism). 

The key to such success through mutualism lies not only in highly efficient nutrient exchange, but gas exchange principally CO2 and O2, as well. More so, for their ability to transform rocks into living mass which they share with other living things in their own time and in the future. They are the precursors of succession in the living world. Which points out to another evolutionary tool - benevolence - the sharing of resources albeit destructive competition. 

More than this general knowledge there is very little we know about lichens.  One thing ecologists are learning about lichens is the fact that they are a natural indicator, a sort of barometer, of environmental conditions.  They thrive best where the air is clean, temperature change is moderate, so with relative humidity, the vegetative cover undisturbed, the rivers and lakes full, etc.  And that lichens thrive best where man's intervention is least - if ever there is. 

Yet lichens are found in the most difficult areas like the Arctic and desert, on rock cliffs, even dilapidated and abandoned structures. Their resistance as well as vulnerability to changing environment has led scientists to use the lichen as a biological indicator.    

It leads us to the simple philosophy of a old man living near the summit of Mt Pulag in Benguet, reminiscent of the American philosopher Henry David Thoreau who lived by a pond (Walden Pond) deep in a woodland far away from town. 

Here on the country's second highest mountain, 'Tang Ben, when asked on how Nature is kept pristine - even without first explaining to him the scientific basis of diversity and balance - simply quipped with confidence and sparkle in his eyes.

"Just leave Nature alone."     
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Lichens: Enduring symbiosis of algae and fungi living as one complex organism 


Lichens are indicators of clean air, in the order of increasing pristine condition:
crustose, foliose, fruiticose.

How do you rate the place you are living in?

Crustose lichen with juvenile fruticose lichen (branching)

Foliose lichen (leaf-like)

Young colony of squamous-foliose type of lichen on the trunk on acacia. Note its spreading and coalescing growth that will soon carpet a large area. Lichen is a closely knit association of algae and fungi in a state of symbiosis.

Fruticose lichen (right) hangs on  tree trunk. In spite of its epiphytic nature it does not harm its host because it is not parasitic. It shares however with the water and nutrients collected by the tree from rain and dust, as well as from the gradual wearing out of the bark tissues. 





These are general types of lichens in increasing morphological complexity, the crustose being the simplest and the fruticose the most complex, which is often mistaken as moss and liverwort and even plant. Although governed by niches or boundaries, lichens of two kinds, or intermediate types as proposed by recent studies, are observed to be growing together in a state of dynamic balance heretofore barely understood. ~
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It has been estimated that 6% of the Earth's land surface is covered by lichen. Lichens are informally classified by growth form into:

· crustose (paint-like, flat), e.g., Caloplaca flavescens
· filamentous (hair-like), e.g., Ephebe lanata
· foliose (leafy), e.g., Hypogymnia physodes
· fruticose (branched), e.g., Cladonia evansii, C. subtenuis, and Usnea australis
· leprose (powdery), e.g., Lepraria incana
· squamulose (consisting of small scale-like structures, lacking a lower cortex), 

                      e.g., Normandina pulchella
· gelatinous lichens, in which the cyanobacteria produce a polysaccharide that absorbs 
                     and retains water.

Part 2: Bryophytes, Bridge of Evolution in the Plant  Kingdom.
“Ah, but what good is rock when it loses the essence on which life rises?” - avr

Liverworts clinging on the lighted face of a rock. Like higher plant, they need sunlight to manufacture food by means of photosynthesis. The lower photo is stressed by limited moisture as summer approaches. 
Mosses make a carpet of soil which is actually the weathered surface of the rock. Bryophytes produce acidic substances that break down compounds of calcium, phosphates and other materials. It is this soil layer that invites higher plants such as isang dakot na bigas at the left.
Luxuriant growth of green alga on a tree trunk which is being invaded by moss. Soon the colony will be dominated and subsequently replaced by the latter. Succession in the plant kingdom is common among simple plants, more so among higher plants in forests, swamps, grasslands, and all ecosystems.

Mature foliose type of lichen, named after its leaf-like structure, grows on the trunk of pine tree in Benguet. This is the intermediate type of lichen, crustose being the simplest, and fruticose the most advanced.







Mature colony of liverwort wear down as summer approaches, drying up in the process. But come next rainfall, a new colony develops in its place. Dried liverworts and mosses are gathered as substrate for growing seedlings and orchids. 

Imagine a lowly moss as a tree, and a liverwort as a large green carpet shaped like a liver. A hornwort has pinnacles in Gothic style. It is when you are small that you see small things big, and big things present themselves as giants.


Bryophytes are the dwarfs of the plant kingdom, while the true or vascular plants are the giants. Mosses and liverworts are the early forms of plants, which botanists believe to have stopped evolving. What they were millions of years ago are what they appear today.

Observe a piece of rock covered with bryophytes. Under the magnifying lens you are looking at a miniature forest. It is thick and every space is taken by structures that look like stalks, leaves and other parts. On closer look these are not true organs because they lack vascular tissues, which in higher plants are for conduction of water and food and in providing support to the plant.

Since bryophytes are short-lived and seasonal, the soil deposit becomes thicker in each generation, while the borders extend to new frontiers. Soon whole trunks of tree, walls and rocks become covered like green carpet. As the bryophyte community reaches its peak and climax, more and more organisms become dependent on it. Insects frequent the place as a hunting ground for their prey.

Feel the softness of a carpet of mosses on the wall or rock. It is thick and spongy. Now this is important because when it rains the carpet absorbs and stores water. In the night and in the morning dew precipitates and settles down making the surroundings cool.

Months, years pass. New plants rise out in the middle of the carpet. You are witnessing plant invasion. Soon the bryophytes will lose their dominance to ferns, and ferns to tracheophytes - annuals, biennials and trees. The bryophytes have done their part.

“What good is rock when it loses the essence from which life rises?”
Ask the algae, the lichen, the moss and the liverwort. ~