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   Lichens, Tardigrades, and SO2Creating the Context Index   
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 the Context

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Assorted lichens above.

Research has indicated that lichens and some very small organisms living on them can be used to assess atmospheric levels of sulfur dioxide, SO2. Lichens are unique organisms composed of either an algae or a cyanobacteria living in a symbiotic relationship with a fungus. When they are exposed to some kinds of air pollutants, especially to SO2, lichens are injured and die. Tardigrades (water bears) live on the lichen and are an interesting organism for study all on their own!

How much of a tree that lichens cover may make a good indicator of air pollution in the area. The effect of these pollutants may also be observed on the distribution and diversity of a simple community living on the lichens, the tardigrades. Determining the percent lichen coverage on the tree and tardigrade density and diversity in your area may lead you to discover some interesting patterns on where and how these organisms lead. The may also lead you to ask research questions about why things are the way they are. Let's begin by asking some questions that will help focus this interesting work. You can begin this project by clicking on the Research Focus in Creating the Context.

New to Lichens & SO2!
  • A new image gallery is available for lichen pictures. Photos can be added through the data submission area (after submitting text-based data) or can be uploaded independently at the Image Bank. (2/20/03)
  • Two week instructional unit with assessment available (8/10/2002)
  • Lichen Links are added. (12/4/01)
  • The 100-circle grid has been updated, using an Adobe PDF. It now retains proper dimensions.
  • Real-time, interactive Lichen mapping
  • The Lichens Listserv has been created. This listserv is intended for casual conversation between students, teachers and researchers interested in using lichens as bioindicators. Join today!
  • For more information on Lichens and other Arctic plants and animals, visit¬†articworld.net

North American Lichen Mapping Project

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