Thursday, August 18, 2016

Are mosses and lichens Nature's compass in the forest?

If so, then this is a survival tool when one gets lost in a tropical rainforest.

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

Lichen and moss on trees.  On-the-spot painting by the author in
acrylic, La Union Botanical Garden, AVR 2003

I know birds and insects,
by your weird look (reffering to the moss and lichen) would turn away,
but not the lost and weary;

living crust, callous and cankerous,
surreptitiously coy and shy,
creatures just pass you by;

made of fungus and alga symbionts
living as one in harmony,
classical model of unity;

so with the moss creeping on a host tree,
growing freely with pride,
though less on the sheltered side;

nature's compass for all seasons,
as the earth on its tilted axis
both prefer to grow on the northeast;

for many lost souls in the green prison
find freedom at long last;
bless you benevolent living crusts. ~

NOTE:  In the northern hemisphere moss prefers to grow on the north side, while lichen on the south side of tree trunks and rocks in a forest. This pattern is the opposite in the southern hemisphere. 

The underlying reason is traced to the tilting of the earth that results in differential sunlight exposure.  Certain scientists believe that moss is favored by less sunlight and more supply of water. Whereas lichen - a symbiosis of algae (photosynthetic) and fungi (saprophytic) - is favored with more sunlight and moderate moisture. Hence the pattern as claimed.

My view is that, this rule may not hold true in all cases.  In fact it is my observation that both moss and lichen have the tendency to grow as one community - together with their host tree, other organisms notwithstanding.  They are appreciably more abundant on the north side of trees in the northern hemisphere. Moss and lichen share a kind of mutualistic relationship that discourages direct competition.

This is a good research for biology and ecology, particularly in the graduate school. Or, why don't you work on it  and share your findings in your school and community.  

Are mosses and lichens Nature's compass in the forest?

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