The Littlest Habitat
Often we look up when taking a walk outdoors, but it can become a wonderful opportunity to look down. Way down under our feet is a pretty cool world of soil, rocks and the many plants and fungus' that turn our landscape green.
On my last family outing I adjusted my focus down and quickly found myself stuffing pockets full of interesting finds; old bark shells with lichen, twigs covered in moss, and sticks etched completely around from beetles. Life was everywhere in greens, greys & yellows.
It turns out lichen comes in a variety of colors and is not a plant at all, but a cyanobacteria. One of the pioneer species where it can grow and thrive where there are no plants or soil to attach to. It is usually something I look for having noticed it is absent in my own yard, but lichen is very sensitive to air pollution and is not regularly found in cities.
Together my family talked about the texture of our forests in the Pacific Northwest and how it needs all sorts of habitats to survive. On this particularly rainy day we studied a large colony of moss and my oldest was surprised to hear it's actually drought resistant! This spongy plant is so important to the environment, able to regulate soil temperature, add nutrients for other plants and sometimes becomes food for the forest animals.
On a geeky note: In the snow forests of North America moss can hold carbon for a millennia in frozen mineral layers because of its slow decomposition rate.
Lets take a moment to appreciate the little green guys of our ecosystem with our children. It might be the conversation that sparks an interest in our kids, and how cool is that?
If you are looking for some great adventure gear for your kids, be sure to check out my Shop. My Website also has lost of great inspiration for your next outing.
Until Next time,