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 Lichens are Pioneer Species in Pristine Ecosystems
 Lichen Classification
 Uses of Lichens
  Lichens are Pioneer Species in Pristine Ecosystems

Lichens are important in soil formation. Take lichens that inhabit bare rocks as an example. The abundant and diverse lichen acids that lichens secrete in their metabolic activities have an important impact on the weathering and decomposing process of rock substrates. They make the transformation of rock into sand grains at a faster rate. As time goes by, sand grains start to accumulate and be mixed with decayed lichins and other humus, thus creating a soil for habitation by other plants; This is how lichens won the name of nature’s pioneers and forerunners in pristine ecosystems. Modern scientists even noticed that the light the surface of Mars absorbs has wave lengths similar to that absorbed by lichens. If there is life on Mars, scientists speculate daringly, there is a possibility that they are life forms very similar, or even identical, to lichens.

Lichens are survival experts and live in diverse habitats, from frigid zones to the tropics. They can even be found in some of the most inhospitable environments where many other plants can not survive, such as extremely dry deserts where day and night temperatures vary greatly, high mountains that are permanently covered with snow, and frosty tundra in polar areas.

Where can we find lichens? They can be looked for almost everywhere in the mountains and wilderness on bare rocks and trees. Some are crust-like coverings that are yellowish green, pale gray, white, brown or tangerine in color. You may also look for pendulous stalk-like fruitcose lichens and leaf-like foliose lichens that cover rock substrates. In Taiwan’s natural environment, lichens also occur in extensive areas and have diverse shapes. There are nearly 600 species of lichens known in Taiwan.


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