Biodiversity, I'm lichen it!
Biodiversity is the biological variety of life on earth. Australia is well known for being biologically rich and diverse. Yet, there are still many organisms that have not been named. For example, it is estimated that only 37% of insects have been named and only 9% of fungi have been named! The group I had the opportunity to learn from today focused on the botany of Yalata area near Fowler's Bay. By the end of the day, we collected, identified and pressed over 60 different types of plants, lichens, mosses and fungi.
Lichens are actually two separate species that form a symbiotic relationship between two separate species, a fungus and an algae. The dominant species is the fungus which gives the lichen the majority of its characteristics. There are three commonly types of lichens: Fruticose, Crustose & Foliose. Fruticose is when the lichen is three-dimensional. The Crustose lichens are two dimensional and firmly attached to the substrate. Foliose lichens are halfway between the Crustose and Fruticose.
What role do lichens play within the ecosystem? Do you have any lichens in your backyard? I encourage you to explore the biodiversity of your own backyard, take pictures and describe the three different types of living organisms you discover. Who knows? You may discover a new species!