The Microgeographical Process

The microbiological world is a vast domain of life occupied by organisms which are too small to be seen with the naked eye. Because of their diminutive size, its denizens are largely ignored, yet in terms of impact and numbers, they represent the predominate form of life on earth.

In the familiar settings of our towns and cities, the same microorganisms have established thriving and complex ecologies that are almost always overlooked, yet the very existence of these and the extent of their vigour, can act as a powerful barometer for the health of our own urban environments.

Microgeography, is an approach that explores the relationships between urban environments and their microbial and human inhabitants through walking and informed observation, and often via a variety of playful and inventive strategies. Its overriding aim is to take pedestrians off their predictable macroscopic paths and to jolt them into a new awareness of the vast, but nearly always disregarded, urban microbiological landscape. These microcosms of microbiological life reflect the health of our own cities and towns, and thus through the process of microgeography, the observer is invited to question the influence of human activity upon this urban microbiological landscape, and hopefully through this, to extrapolate the impact of our actions on to the more visible world beyond.

Below is a description of a typical microgeographical process that took place at the fabulous Bees In A Tin event on 12th June at Millennium Point in Birmingham. The 90 minute outdoor and mobile workshop comprised a short microgeographical walk, the observation of natural samples for microbes in situ using a poweful portable field microscope (200-1000x magnification) and an iPhone, and some alfresco preparation of DIY/Kitchen microbiological growth media, and related bacterial growth experiments.

The event began with a short microgeographical walk where participants were shown and guided towards a number of found and local urban microbial ecologies as detailed below.

On a smooth and coated wall, ecologies of algae and iron oxidizing bacteria flourish in vertical streaks. The leaking fontain nozzles provide these with the water needed for microbial growth

On a smooth and coated wall, ecologies of algae and iron oxidizing bacteria flourish in vertical streaks. The leaking fontain nozzles provide these with the water needed for microbial growth

Over a period of many years a concrete wall has become covered in a dark patina of microbial growth. It might not look alive, but were we able to observe this thin layer with a microscope we would find an exotic and miniature forest inhabited by fungi, green algae and cyanobacteria. I call this ubiquitous but overlooked microbiological veneer, the Urban Cryptobiotic Crust (UCC). Here a snail, a leviathan on the scale of the UCC, has fed on this ecology, and in removing it and revealing the sterile manmade substratum beneath, has highlighted the walls microbiology and etched a telling metric into its extended surface.   An ecology of algae supported by the splash of a fountain (the green xx) Microbial ecologies in small leaks

Over a period of many years a concrete wall has become covered in a dark patina of microbial growth. It might not look alive, but were we able to observe this thin layer with a microscope we would find an exotic and miniature forest inhabited by fungi, green algae and cyanobacteria. I call this ubiquitous but overlooked microbiological veneer, the Urban Cryptobiotic Crust (UCC). Here a snail, a leviathan on the scale of the UCC, has fed on this ecology, and in removing it and revealing the sterile manmade substratum beneath, has highlighted the wall’s microbiology and etched a telling metric into its extended surface.

In the middle of Birmingham and beneath an urban roadside drain grating we find a rainbow-like community of iron, and perhaps even manganese, oxidising bacteria floating on the surface of the residual water. It's brittle and breaks into tiny fractures when we throw in a stones so we confirm that it's not due oil or petrol. Then were uncertain, where does the iron that supports this community come from in the middle of Birmingham. Ah, it's in the wash off from the grate. Doh! And then there is a sense of wonderful closure, a sheen of heavy metal, forged in Birmingham like Judas Priest and Black Sabbath.

In the middle of Birmingham and beneath an urban roadside drain grating we find a rainbow-like community of iron, and perhaps even manganese, oxidising bacteria floating on the surface of the residual water. It’s brittle and breaks into tiny fractures when we throw in stones so we confirm that it’s not due oil or petrol. Then were uncertain, as we discuss where does the iron that supports this community come from in the middle of Birmingham. Ah, it’s in the wash off from the grate. Doh! And then there is a sense of wonderful closure, a sheen of heavy metal, forged in Birmingham like Judas Priest and Black Sabbath.

The portable and powerful Newton Field Microcsope was also used to observe samples for signatures and examples of microbial life but infortunately this activity was curtailed by the rain. Below though are examples of its portability and use in similar environments.

The Newton Field Microscope. Portable, poweful (20-1000x magnification) and compatible with an iPhone

The Newton Field Microscope. Portable, poweful (200-1000x magnification) and compatible with an iPhone

An unassuming old cat food bowl harbours a wondrous and  thriving microbial ecology including Rotifers and Waterbears.

An unassuming old cat food bowl harbours a wondrous and thriving microbial ecology including Rotifers and Waterbears.


After some alfresco preparation of DIY/Kitchen microbiological growth media, participants then inoculated the various growth media with found objects of their choice. The images below are of the microbes (mostly bacteria and a few moulds) that grew on the agar plates. The way that this usually invisible life emerges from the chosen objects, and the complex manner in which seems to embellish these, to me, forms a very potent reminder, of not only the ubiquity of microbiological life, but also its intimate connection with all else.

Nivims, grass head

Nivims, grass head

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Next, and back in my microbiology laboratory I selected some of the naturally pigmented bacteria that we had isolated.

A pallette of living colours. Naturally pigmented bacteria isolated from a microgeographical walk in Birmingham.

A pallette of living colours. Naturally pigmented bacteria isolated from a microgeographical walk in Birmingham.

Finally, I carefully dried down the coloured bacterial colonies so that they and the agar formed a glassy state. Not only are the bacteria and their own stories now beautifully preserved, but the thin and brightly coloured films might also in future become part of unique jewellery, bacterial sequins for ball gowns, and even bacterial stained glass for novel lampshades.

The coloured bacteria preserved in a thin glassy film.

The coloured bacteria preserved in a thin glassy film.

The coloured bacteria preserved in a thin glassy film.

The coloured bacteria preserved in a thin glassy film.

The coloured bacteria preserved in a thin glassy film.

The coloured bacteria preserved in a thin glassy film.

The glassy bacterial films can also act as unique lenses through which the normally invisible microbial world can be directly projected into the one that we normally see as can be seen below

The film has been used to project the dried bacterial colonies onto a wall using an overhead projector

The film has been used to project the dried bacterial colonies onto a wall using an overhead projector

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BioFilms/BioGlyphs

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This isn’t strictly microgeography because this occurs in a natural setting. It is caused by bacteria though and it does look like, but isn’t, pollution. Here, on the surface of humically darkened and acidic pools, in an ancient marshland (Thursely Common), the microbiological world reveals itself. Occasionally on the surfaces of still and  undisturbed and natural water, a fragile and iridescent film will form. Often dismissed as just pollution, these brittle layers are in fact entirely natural, and are formed by the activity of resident iron and manganese oxidising bacteria. The films are so thin, that they able diffract light, so that they shimmer with the colours of the spectrum and have their own inherent beauty. Beyond this, these delicate films uniquely record the  movement of small animals and insects that dwell on the surface of water as their footfall etches ephemeral glyphs into this fragile and metallic vellum.

A Brief Cornish Microgeography

A few microgeographical observations made on a recent holiday in Cornwall.

 

Cornwall's rich mineral heritage seems to have a biological counterpart in the form of lichens, which seem to emerge from the rocks themselves like living mineral deposits.

Cornwall’s rich mineral heritage seems to have a biological counterpart in the form of lichens, which seem to emerge from the rocks themselves like living mineral deposits.

Cornwall's rich mineral heritage seems to have a biological counterpart in the form of lichens, which seem to emerge from the rocks themselves like living mineral deposits.

Cornwall’s rich mineral heritage seems to have a biological counterpart in the form of lichens, which seem to emerge from the rocks themselves like living mineral deposits.

A carpet of  orange coastal lichens on a shack roof. The luxuriant growth has been  nourished by seagull shit. A zone of inhibition under the chimney, where the lichens cannot grow is probably caused by efffluent from the chimney (heat or gases)

A carpet of orange coastal lichens on a shack roof. The luxuriant growth has been nourished by seagull shit. A zone of inhibition under the chimney, where the lichens cannot grow, is probably caused by efffluent from the chimney (heat or toxic gases)

A line that separates new and old. Two adjoining roofs. The one on the left is new and is in the process of being colonised by pioneer microorganisms. To the right is a much older roof with a much richer and diverse ecology of microbial life.

A line that separates new and old. Two adjoining roofs. The one on the left is new and is in the process of being colonised by pioneer microorganisms. To the right is a much older roof with a far richer and more diverse ecology of microbial life.

An Iron Tear? A concrete fence post with a steel wire. The post is covered by a living crust of lichens but where the cable has rubbed on the concrete it has leached its iron into the concrete and this has changed the nature of the lichens which can grow beneath it to ones that can tolerate the iron.

An Iron Tear? A concrete fence post with a steel wire. The post is covered by a living crust of lichens but where the cable has rubbed on the concrete it has leached its iron into the concrete and this has changed the nature of the lichens which can grow beneath it to ones that can tolerate the iron.

A Brief Microgeography of Selborne

 

Algae and the tracks of snails that have fed on them on a metal sign

Algae and the tracks of snails that have fed on them on a metal sign

Microgeography is the study of the specific effects of the geographical environment on the behaviour, of the overlooked, but ubiquitous and important microbiota of our urban landscapes. The relationship between an urban environment, and its microbial and human inhabitants, is explored through informed observation, and also via a variety of playful and inventive strategies. The  aim is to take pedestrians off their predictable macroscopic paths and to jolt them into a new awareness of the urban microbiological landscape, and of a hidden yet profound world. I’m also aware that the stories here are strikingly similar to that of the Galapagos Islands but operate at a microscopic scale and parallel, the emergence, of at first lifeless environments, occupation, survival of the fittest and most suited,  and eventually evolution.

 

Lichens exploiting an old tractor

Lichens exploiting an old tractor

A raised region on the bark of this tree and nowhere else on it, provides a suitable environment for the growth of photosynthetic algae

A raised region on the bark of this tree and nowhere else on it, provides a suitable environment for the growth of photosynthetic algae

A smooth graveyard obelisk . A cross breaks the otherwise smooth face and provides a suitable environment for lichens to grow.

A smooth graveyard obelisk . A cross breaks the otherwise smooth face and provides a suitable environment for lichens to grow.

A smooth graveyard obelisk . A scuptured  breaks the otherwise smooth face and provides a suitable environment for lichens to grow.

A smooth graveyard obelisk . A sculptured face breaks the otherwise smooth face and provides a suitable environment for lichens to grow.

Gravestone lichens

Gravestone lichens

A metal bar on this gravestone provides a moss with a niche to grow in an ecology otherwise dominated by lichens

A metal bar on this gravestone provides a moss with a niche to grow in an ecology otherwise dominated by lichens

Gravestone lichens

Gravestone lichens

Here lichens have colonised the natural rock of an old wall but cannot colonise the manmade mortar.

Here lichens have colonised the natural rock of an old wall but cannot colonise the manmade mortar.

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Here lichens have colonised the natural rock of an old wall but cannot colonise the manmade mortar.

Here lichens have colonised the natural rock of an old wall but cannot colonise the manmade mortar.

Here lichens have colonised the natural rock of an old wall but cannot colonise the manmade mortar.

Here lichens have colonised the natural rock of an old wall but cannot colonise the manmade mortar.

A complex and old gate ecology

A complex and old gate ecology

A complex and old sign post  ecology

A complex and old sign post ecology

A algal water trough ecology

A algal water trough ecology

A Brief Microgeography of the University of Surrey Campus

Microgeography is the study of the specific effects of the geographical environment on the behaviour, of the overlooked, but ubiquitous and important microbiota of our urban landscapes. The relationship between an urban environment, and its microbial and human inhabitants, is explored through informed observation, and also via a variety of playful and inventive strategies. Its aim is to take pedestrians off their predictable macroscopic paths and jolt them into a new awareness of the urban microbiological landscape, and of a hidden yet profound world. When observed microgeographically an urban environment becomes a vast microbiology experiment that replicates many of the processes that would be used in a laboratory. Once we open our eyes to this world,  we find its signatures everywhere. Here’s what I found on my walk to work this morning.

A blue lamppost has been covered in a community of green algae. Where a sticker has fallen away, the striking blue base paint is revealed, highlighting the photosynthetic microbial community.

A blue lamppost has been covered in a community of green algae. Where a sticker has recently fallen away, the striking blue base paint is revealed, highlighting the photosynthetic microbial community.

A blue sign covered in a sporadic community of algae. A rectangular sticker has once been placed on the sign, and whilst this has long ago decayed, the glue that once held it in place allows a more vigorous community of the same algae to grow

A blue sign covered in a sporadic community of algae. A rectangular sticker has once been placed on the sign, and whilst this has long ago decayed, the glue that once held it in place allows a more vigorous community of the same algae to grow

A slate monument colonised by nitrogen loving lichens. Birds perch on the top of the sone, and deficate. The lichens grow where small channels of rainwater have carried the nitrogen further down the monument.

A slate monument colonised by nitrogen loving lichens. Birds perch on the top of the stone, and deficate. The lichens grow where small channels of rainwater have carried the nitrogen further down the monument.

A thriving community of algae on a metal ledge. A snail has fed on the algae, and in revealing the paint beneath, has etched a revealing glyph into the ecology.

A thriving community of algae on a metal ledge. A snail has fed on the algae, and in revealing the paint beneath, has etched a revealing glyph into the ecology.

A thriving community of algae on a metal sign. A snail has fed on the algae, and in revealing the paint beneath, has etched a revealing glyph into the ecology.

A thriving community of algae on a metal sign. A snail has fed on the algae, and in revealing the paint beneath, has etched a revealing glyph into the ecology.

A thriving community of algae, lichens and even a moss grow in a specific zone beneath a window ledge. The lower part of the wall does not support growth, and thus zone of life must be supported by water rain splash. The angle at which they face the sun might also provide an overlapping microclimate that controls lichen growth.

A thriving community of algae, lichens and even a moss grow in a specific zone beneath a window ledge. The lower part of the wall does not support growth, and thus zone of life must be supported by rain splash water. The angle at which they face the sun might also provide an overlapping microclimate that  confines lichen growth to the top. 

A thriving community of algae, lichens and even a moss grow in a specific zone beneath a window ledge. The lower part of the wall does not support growth, and thus zone of life must be supported by water rain splash. The angle at which they face the sun might also provide an overlapping microclimate that controls lichen growth.

A thriving community of algae, lichens and even a moss grow in a specific zone beneath a window ledge. The lower part of the wall does not support growth, and thus zone of life must be supported by rain splash water.  The angle at which they face the sun might also provide an overlapping microclimate that confines lichen growth to the top.

A Microgeoraphy of Trondheim

Microgeography is the study of the specific effects of the geographical environment on the behaviour, of the overlooked, but ubiquitous and important microbiota of our urban landscapes. The relationship between an urban environment, and its microbial and human inhabitants, is explored through informed observation, and also via a variety of playful and inventive strategies. Its aim is to take pedestrians off their predictable macroscopic paths and jolt them into a new awareness of the urban microbiological landscape, and of a hidden yet profound world. When observed microgeographically an urban environment becomes a vast microbiology experiment that replicates many of the processes that would be used in a laboratory. Here is a microgeographical study of the city of Trondheim.

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Old and New: The urban cryptobiotic (UCC) crust is a ubiquitous but overlooked microbiological veneer that covers many of our buildings/rooftops . Under the microscope the UCC is an exotic and miniature forest inhabited by fungi, green algae, lichens and cyanobacteria. Here an old rooftop (the one on the left), possesses this living veneer but the new roof on the right does not presumably because there has not been sufficient time for a complex climax community to form.

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Subtle Ecologies:  A city tree reveals the subtlety of microgeography. The bark represents a consistent environment but the orientation of the tree, and thus differences in exposure to sunlight, determine whether the ecology is dominated by lichens (left) or moss (right).

Subtle Ecologies: A city tree reveals the subtlety of microgeography. The bark represents a consistent environment but the orientation of the tree, and thus differences in exposure to sunlight, determine whether the ecology is dominated by lichens (left) or moss (right).

Substrate Dependent Growth. A painted metal structure, which for the most part, does not support microbiological growth. However, a some point in the past someone has affixed a poster to it, and whilst its message and the poster have been long gone, its residue (probably in the form of the glue used to attach it) has allowed an ecology of  algae to gain a foothold and establish a thriving microbial community.

Substrate Dependent Growth. A painted metal structure, which for the most part, does not support microbiological growth. However, a some point in the past someone has affixed a poster to it, and whilst its message and the poster have been long gone, its residue (probably in the form of the glue used to attach it) has allowed an ecology of algae to gain a foothold and establish a thriving microbial community.

Metodistkirken:  The urban cryptobiotic (UCC) on a place of worship. The metalwork contains  a metal that poisons the UCC and rain runoff, produces clear zones of inhibition beneath it, like comet tails of death in a continuum of life.

Metodistkirken: The urban cryptobiotic (UCC) on a place of worship. The metalwork contains a metal that poisons the UCC and rain runoff, produces clear zones of inhibition beneath it, like comet tails of death in a continuum of life.

Substrate Dependent Growth. A painted metal structure, which for the most part,  does not support microbiological growth. However, a some point in the past someone has affixed a poster to it, and whilst its message and the poster have been long gone, its residue (probably in the form of the glue used to attach it) has allowed an ecology of lichens, bacteria and fungi to gain a foothold and establish a thriving microbial community.

Substrate Dependent Growth. A painted metal structure, which for the most part, does not support microbiological growth. However, a some point in the past someone has affixed a poster to it, and whilst its message and the poster have been long gone, its residue (probably in the form of the glue used to attach it) has allowed an ecology of lichens, bacteria and fungi to gain a foothold and establish a thriving microbial community.

Subtle Ecology: a green ecology of algae growing in a damp alleyway. There is an obvious demarcation between the algal growth and a zone that does not support its growth. The alleyway was overhung by roofs and the area in which these microorganisms cannot grow must be in perpetual shadow, and thus there is insufficient sunlight to permit photosynthesis, and this algal growth.

Subtle Ecology: a green ecology of algae growing in a damp alleyway. There is an obvious demarcation between the algal growth and a zone that does not support its growth. The alleyway was overhung by roofs and the area in which these microorganisms cannot grow must be in perpetual shadow, and thus there is insufficient sunlight to permit photosynthesis, and this algal growth.

Metodistkirken:  The urban cryptobiotic (UCC) on a place of worship. The letters contain a metal that poisons the UCC and rain splashes and runoff, produces clear zones of inhibition around the letters where the UCC cannot grow.  The church’s biology adds a dimensionality to the text, as if the letters were embellished with death. A message, not from God, but from  the Earth’s hidden biology.

Metodistkirken: The urban cryptobiotic (UCC) on a place of worship. The letters contain a metal that poisons the UCC and rain splashes and runoff, produces clear zones of inhibition around the letters where the UCC cannot grow. The church’s biology adds a dimensionality to the text, as if the letters were embellished with death. A message, not from God, but from the Earth’s hidden biology.

Lichens: The urban cryptobiotic (UCC) crust and lichen colonies on a rooftop. Lichens are sensitive to many industrial toxins and can act as useful bio-indicators for air pollution. They grow extremely slowly, sometimes spreading at a rate of no more than a few millimetres a year, and thus add a sense of age to the building and city. They seem to occupy a different timeframe to ourselves, but in the greater context of the time that life has existed on Earth, they grow and bloom like the shortest lived flowers with which they also share the property of photosynthesis.

Lichens: The urban cryptobiotic (UCC) crust and lichen colonies on a rooftop. Lichens are sensitive to many industrial toxins and can act as useful bio-indicators for air pollution. They grow extremely slowly, sometimes spreading at a rate of no more than a few millimetres a year, and thus add a sense of age to the building and city. They seem to occupy a different timeframe to ourselves, but in the greater context of the time that life has existed on Earth, they grow and bloom like the shortest lived flowers with which they also share the property of photosynthesis.

Drainpipe Biome: A drainpipe, and splashes from the water that must periodically pass through it, provides moisture for a habitat that otherwise be continually dry and thus inimical to life. A semi-circular Biome of microbial, and also macroscopic life, has become established within the splash zone.  The green staining is due to microscopic  algae and the rust coloured zone due to iron-oxidizing bacteria. It seems that the drainpipe not only provides water for microbial growth but also iron, which is also essential for life.

Drainpipe Biome: A drainpipe, and splashes from the water that must periodically pass through it, provides moisture for a habitat that otherwise be continually dry and thus inimical to life. A semi-circular Biome of microbial, and also macroscopic life, has become established within the splash zone. The green staining is due to microscopic algae and the rust coloured zone due to iron-oxidizing bacteria. It seems that the drainpipe not only provides water for microbial growth but also iron, which is also essential for life.

Drainpipe Biome: A drainpipe, and splashes from the water that must periodically pass through it, provides moisture for a habitat that otherwise be continually dry and thus inimical to life. A semi-circular Biome of microbial, and also macroscopic life, has become established within the splash zone.  The green staining is due to microscopic algae.

Drainpipe Biome: A drainpipe, and splashes from the water that must periodically pass through it, provides moisture for a habitat that otherwise be continually dry and thus inimical to life. A semi-circular Biome of microbial, and also macroscopic life, has become established within the splash zone. The green staining is due to microscopic algae.

Drainpipe Biome: A drainpipe, and splashes from the water that must periodically pass through it, provides moisture for a habitat that otherwise be continually dry and thus inimical to life. A semi-circular Biome of microbial, and also macroscopic life, has become established within the splash zone.  The green staining is due to microscopic  algae and the rust coloured zone due to iron-oxidizing bacteria. It seems that the drainpipe not only provides water for microbial growth but also iron, which is also essential for life.

Drainpipe Biome: A drainpipe, and splashes from the water that must periodically pass through it, provides moisture for a habitat that otherwise be continually dry and thus inimical to life. A semi-circular Biome of microbial, and also macroscopic life, has become established within the splash zone. The green staining is due to microscopic algae and the rust coloured zone due to iron-oxidizing bacteria. It seems that the drainpipe not only provides water for microbial growth but also iron, which is also essential for life.

Zones of Inhibition: an ecology of photosynthetic algae (the green layer) on a metal roof. These microorganisms are able to tolerate the metal used in the sheeting,  but water running off the short metal poles, is toxic to them, and produces clear zones of inhibition where the algae cannot grow. Presumably, the same water and toxin, enters into the drainage system and thus into the wider environment beyond and I wonder what activity it will have here.

Zones of Inhibition: an ecology of photosynthetic algae (the green layer) on a metal roof. These microorganisms are able to tolerate the metal used in the sheeting, but water running off the short metal poles, is toxic to them, and produces clear zones of inhibition where the algae cannot grow. Presumably, the same water and toxin, enters into the drainage system and thus into the wider environment beyond and I wonder what activity it will have here.

A Brief Microgeography of The Eden Project II

The microbiological world is a vast domain of life occupied by organisms which are too small to be seen with the naked eye. Because of their diminutive size, its denizens are largely ignored, yet in terms of impact and numbers, they represent the predominate form of life on earth. In fact, in the familiar settings of our towns, cities, and built environments, microorganisms have established overlooked, yet thriving and complex ecologies. Microgeography, seeks to highlight these microbial communities that find a home within our built environments, and to explore the relationship between an urban environment and its microbial and human inhabitants through informed observation, and via a variety of playful and inventive strategies. Its aim is to take pedestrians off their predictable macroscopic paths and jolt them into a new awareness of the vast, but nearly always overlooked, urban microbiological landscape. The process also invites the observer to question the influence of human activity upon this urban microbiological landscape, and hopefully through this, to extrapolate the impact of our actions on to the more visible world beyond.
Here are some very brief microgeographical observations made on a recent visit to The Eden Project. Its giant Biomes, and other infrastructures, encapsulate various and notably visible ecologies that attract its many visitors, yet at the same time the same structures and environments will be invisibly colonized by a massively complex, and often underpinning microbial ecology.

An owl-like arrangemnt of lichens

An owl-like arrangemnt of lichens

A lichen forms a flower-like bloom on a tree

A lichen forms a flower-like bloom on a tree

Lichens and Fence.   Lichens are composite organisms comprising a fungal partner and a different photosynthetic  microorganism (usually a cyanobacterium or algae), that exist together in a symbiotic relationship. Above are some examples of Eden's lichens. Below and in the image directly above, I came across a fence made from plastic rope that had. proved to be an ideal habit for these organisms and which had become become colonized with a beautiful yet  brittle ecology of lichens. Whilst many visitors might marvel at the various exotic epiphytic plants on display in the Rainforest Biome, how many pause to examine this poignant ecology of native epiphytes. Lichens are widely used as bio-indicators and if the air is very badly polluted no lichens might be present. The appearance of hairy and leafy lichens at The Eden Project, suggest the air here is relatively free of pollution.

Lichens and Fence. Lichens are composite organisms comprising a fungal partner and a different photosynthetic microorganism (usually a cyanobacterium or algae), that exist together in a symbiotic relationship. Above are some examples of Eden’s lichens. Below and in the image directly above,  I came across a fence made from plastic rope that had proved to be an ideal habit for these organisms and had become colonized with a beautiful yet brittle ecology of lichens. Whilst many visitors might marvel at the various exotic epiphytic plants on display in the Rainforest Biome, how many pause to examine this poignant ecology of native epiphytes. Lichens are widely used as bio-indicators and if the air is very badly polluted no lichens might be present. The appearance of hairy and leafy lichens at The Eden Project, suggest the air here is relatively free of pollution.

Lichens and Fence

Lichens and Fence

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