Friday, December 2, 2011

Save a logger, eat a lichen

So.... I get the spend the next three days studying for the lecture final.  Normally I start to study a week before the final, but I was busy studying for the lab final.   I am studying for the lecture final by answering the review questions.  The faculty will upload keys to the review questions soon.   Anyway, I'm trying to make this as interesting as possible.  I probably won't answer the actual test in such a manner but here is how I answered question 8 for week 9: 
8. You are in a floral shop picking out a beautiful bouquet of flowers for your professors when you overhear the florist talking about her latest shipment of lichen wreaths. She tells her assistant that, besides in wreath making, lichens don’t really have any useful qualities for humans. How would you respond?

If I’m in the Lynch Creek Floral shop in Shelton where King Tim Sheldon and his groupies hang out, there will not be much point in my trying to explain anything to anyone in there.  If I told them that lichens are useful in monitoring air quality they would quickly find funding to remove all the lichens from Shelton so they could keep on polluting and logging.   Soon they would be selling bumper stickers that say “You can't wipe your butt with an Usnea  or “Try hugging a logger and you’ll never go back to Cladonia” or "Save a logger: Eat a Lichen".

 I could try explaining to them that lichen decomposition adds nitrogen to forest systems and trees need to obtain nitrogen from sources such as lichens because trees can not pull nitrogen out of the air.  They would probably respond by applying even more nitrogen fertilizers to their stunted, sickly third growth tree farms and that would harm the health of certain nitrogen hating lichens.  ( Not to mention causing massive fish killing algal blooms in the Hood Canal.)
I could also mention that Native Americans used lichen as a food source and that reindeer subsist on lichens in the winter and reindeer are an important food source for some humans in northern regions. But I doubt that the Lynch creek coffee mob cares much about those types of things. 

Lastly there is one lichen fact that King Sheldon as his followers might actually appreciate; the fact  that you can make a purple dye from lichens. Most people know that purple is a royal color.  With this knowledge, King Sheldon and friends might stop logging their tree farms and instead use their trees as a growing substrate for Evernia prunastri.  (It could happen!)

1 comment:

Dr. Lalita Calabria said...

Greeting from your professor. This post is hilarious!! Keep it coming!