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She who writes, remains. Documentation of cryptogamic species cover.

Pseudevernia furfuracea on a branch

Working in a fairy tale forest.

Usnea filipendula (hair like) on a tree trunk

Hidden beauties in the woods

Just under two months ago I started my PhD at ConFoBi and I will take you with me on a journey into the forest and give you an insight into my work and the beauty behind it. We start the journey in a ConFoBi plot, one of 135 study areas in the southern Black Forest. Inside the plot the view falls on trees with numerous microclimate conditions which make them suitable for animals and other organisms as habitat; thus, we call them potential habitat-trees. These selected trees are of high interest to the cryptogamic organisms on them.

Cryptogamic organisms are for example cyanobacteria, fungi, green algae, bryophytes, and lichens. They are not a taxonomic entity. In my case, I focus only on bryophytes and lichens. For most of you, bryophytes are a household name, but lichens themselves or the tighter definition are unknown. Lichens are an association between a fungi (mycobiont) and a green alga or a cyanobacterium (photobiont). The mycobiont can also contain more than one species of green algae or cyanobacteria as photobiont, which is the photosynthetic-active part of the organism. A special feature of lichens is that they can have an inactive state. This happens when they dry out and can be reversed by moisture, so they do not die in times without water. As a consequence, they can colonize habitats with harsh conditions, as well as bryophytes. Lichens can differ in shape, growth form, and colour, which leads to a highly diverse and beautiful group of organisms. The organisms of our interest are attached to tree trunks up to the crown. In the study, only organisms up to two meters high above the ground will be investigated. I will record the taxonomic diversity and abundance of lichens and bryophytes. Most species are overlooked, but a deeper look is worthwhile. One reason is that many species are indicators for light, air, and temperature conditions and also indicate air pollution. Appreciable is also the fact that lichens cannot be cultivated and thus the natural occurrences are important for commercial use. For example, special components of bryophytes and lichens are used for odour or medical devices. Bryophytes are also seen as decoration in gardening shops but have to be collected in nature.

I hope you got a small insight into the tiny world of cryptogamic organisms during this short excursion and have an open view during your next walk outside. You can find beauty everywhere if you take a closer look at it! Enjoy your walk  :)


by Dina Emrich (B1)