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Post 6 - Fungi and Lichen

On your hike, you may have noticed some of the colorful mushrooms and other fungi that inhabit the forest. The fungi you can see above the ground are actually just the fruits of a much larger root-like underground web. Many of these fungi decompose dead forest material to extract the nutrients they need because, unlike plants, they can't make their own food. The underground fungal web often shares nutrients obtained through decomposition with the roots of plants in exchange for the sugar the plants produce through photosynthesis. Mutually beneficial relationships like this one are called symbiotic relationships and can be found throughout the forest. An important symbiotic relationship exists between one type of fungus and algae. Together, these species form a lichen, which plays an important role by converting nitrogen from the air into a form that plants can use. One of the types you will see today resembles an old man's beard while another looks like a shriveled lettuce leaf. See how many different types of fungi and lichens you can find on your walk today.

We've discussed a lot of ways plants and fungi interact in the forest, but how do you react to it?

Click on the pictures below to enlarge them.

Fungi-1 Fungi-2 Lichen-1 Lichen-2


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