As a symbiosis between a fungus and a photosynthetic alga or cyanobacterium, lichens have particular challenges when it comes to reproduction and growing fully mature lichens out of tiny baby lichens. Many lichens have mastered this challenge by producing small thallus portions that already look like tiny lichens and, once dispersed, immediately start growing and forming a fully functional lichen. These tiny "greenhorn" lichens growing on their parent lichen are called phyllidia or lobules, due to their flattened appearance that resembles the lobes of mature lichens, only much smaller. Read more about How lichens reproduce with "greenhorn" baby lichens...
Blogs & Videos
Every day at The Field Museum we're exploring something new, whether it's hidden deep in our collections or being investigated out in the field. Tune in to our blogs and videos to learn about breakthrough discoveries firsthand from our Field Museum scientists, or discover what curiosity Emily Graslie has stumbled upon in our vaults, or see how our science is making an impact in the world around you.
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Recent Blog Posts
Going green is all about conserving the environment. Not just because a healthy environment increases our quality of living, but because we owe it to the next generations to conserve our planet so they have a chance to enjoy its spectacular beauty and diversity as we do. Since forests are one of the primary sources of oxigen, conservation of forests is of great importance both in temperate and tropical areas. In many regions, forests are monitored as to their conservation status, and bioindicators are an important tool to accomplish this task. Read more about Lichens as bioindicators of forest health
Lichens come in all colors and shapes, but many lichens are green when hydrated and metabolizing, due to their green algal photobionts. So it is not surprising that lichens are often mistaken for plants, even if they actually represent symbiotic fungi and hence are more closely related to animals. To make the confusion perfect, the internal anatomy of many lichens resembles that of plant leaves, with the photobiont layer positioned in a similar way as the chlorophyll layer in leaves. Read more about "Window" lichens mimick highly adapted desert plants
This month's topic is March and green. Of course, everybody by now is anxiously waiting for spring, to get rid of the polar vortex. Hopefully that will happen soon! By the way, the expanded polar vortex that affects large parts of North America with bitter cold is a direct consequence of global warming! Read more about Hoping for global warming after a cold winter... and lichens as bioindicators of climate change
Educating the public about the work done behind the scenes in the non-public areas is important to the mission of the Field Museum of Natural History. By sharing our collections and the research we do we can stimulate an interest and understanding of natural history and the how we fit into world around us. Read more about Peregrines, Dermestids & Social Media
Real lovebirds, as in the genus Agapornis. This is a bird blog, afterall. Read more about Bird of the week: Valentine's lovebirds
Considering how sweaty and dehydrated I became during this film shoot, it's remarkable that Ernesto and the rest of the bird team were diligently out for long periods of time, at all hours of the day and night, to listen for the birds of the Amazon.
These assessments - recording the calls and sightings of birds - helps inform distribution and range of known species, the information used to update maps and increase our knowledge about these animals and their habitats. Check out these revised maps! Read more about Bird Calls of Amazonia
With their stable symbiosis between a fungus and an alga, lichens are a prime example for lasting relationships. But these lichen fungi do not simply host their algae, they actually grow them as much as farmers grow their crop. And just as farmers select the best crop to propagate, lichen fungi do the same. Not conciously, but through the process of selective evolution. Read more about Lichens: a lasting relationship like farmers and crops
February is all about relationships. But isn't it sad that we need a special month to dedicate ourselves to our relationships? In biological sciences, almost everything is about relationships. All year round. With the difference that we do not call them romantic or platonic, but instead phylogenetic or evolutionary. The most basic question in biology is how organisms are related to each other. This can be done by studying all kinds of features or by just analyzing DNA sequences. Read more about When relationships aren't what they seem