Environmental Influence Of Lichens On The Galapagos

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Reading summary In an area that seems almost inhospitable, lichens have found a way; growing on many surfaces and in many types of habitat. They even form mats on trees; however, animals do not generally eat these for the nutrient content found in them is very low. The only organism that eats these lichens is the tortoises that live with them. Apart from helping the tortoises, lichen have another very important function: they trap moisture and allow for the formation of pools. They essentially “water” the forest. Lichens are very diverse and very good environmental indicators due to the fact that they are very sensitive to environmental conditions. Although there are many species of lichens on the Galapagos, they are not very well studied, so identification takes time. In the Galapagos, there are three types…show more content…
The flowers and fruiting bodies are small and it is theorized that this genus’ ancestor was a weed. The genus Opuntia is also native, but contrary to the previous genus, they have large flowers and live for a substantial amount of time. They are a primary source for many of the animals that live on these islands as well. The largest of the Scalesia family, Scalesia pedunculata is often the only tree growing in the forest where it lives. This species is considered a pioneering species, meaning that it starts growing when forest life is relatively “simple” and little competition exists. However, they can still remain dominant due to the lack of competing late-succession trees. These plants are susceptible to environmental conditions and if they are killed, can take a while to regrow due to the fact that there is little regeneration underneath these trees. The Opuntia species, Opuntia echios var barringtonesis is the most impressive in its genus. This species is very susceptible to rains and prefer drier climates, but show far less mortality than the Scalesia

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