Friday, July 25, 2008

Lichen Lovin'

Hope you enjoy the new photos. Lichen are cool, but maybe that is just me.

My last post on reptiles did not seem to raise many comments or screams. Kind of surprised me, but I will keep adding posts as my time allows. Feel free to leave comments or requests. Trust me when I tell you I have all kinds of images. That will only get worse when I hook up my scanner and start downloading some of the 50,000 slides I have. I might be the only one having fun with this, but at least someone is.

I like to nature walks wherever I go. Now some folks walk all aorund in nature and really never take in anything except the big picture. They walk by all the cool stuff around them. Stuff like lichen. There is even a webpage dedicated to it. I have been a fan for a very long time. It helps growing up in the desert areas where this stuff is. Of course it is all over in all kinds of areas.

For more informaiton go check out It is now on my favorite list. (imagine that) And for all you teachers out there I know I use poor grammar. Thanks for noticing. is a site with Grateful Dead music and other stuff for all the DeadHeads and Hippies out there.

A lichen looks like a single organism, but it is actually a symbiotic relationship between different organisms. It is composed of a fungal partner (mycobiont) and one or more photosynthetic partners (photobiont). The photosynthetic partner is generally green algae or cyanobacteria. There are about 13,500 species of lichen on the Earth.

It is debated whether the relationship in a lichen is mutualistic or part of a controlled parasitism. On one hand, the fungus and the photobiont seem to be in a mutualistic relationship because when they are combined, they have the ability to deal with ecological conditions that neither part would be able to handle on its own. It also seems that neither partner is damaged by the other. Upon taking a closer look at a lichen, some might say that the photobiont is a captive of the mycobiont, not a partner. The fungal partner "enslaves" the photobiont to feed from the photobionts photosynthesis. I could not have said it better myself, so I used this from

For all of you other folks that use poor grammar like me, you might undertand this better. Structurally, lichens are among the most bizarre of all forms of life. That's because every lichen species is actually composed of two, possibly even three, distinct species of organisms. One species is a kind of fungus. Usually the other species is an alga, but sometimes it can be a photosynthesizing bacterium known as a cyanobacterium. Sometimes all three organisms are found in one lichen.
Since all three kinds of organism are profoundly different from one another, what lichens do is almost like merging a shrub with a dog to produce something that looks and lives unlike either shrub or dog!
In this amazing association the fungus benefits from the algae because fungi, having no chlorophyll, can't photosynthesize their own food. A lichen's fungal part is thus "fed" by its photosynthesizing algal part. The algae benefit from the association because the fungus is better able to find, soak up, and retain water and nutrients than the algae. Also, the fungus gives the resulting lichen shape, and provides the reproductive structures. This kind of relationship between two or more organisms, where both organisms benefit, is known as mutualism.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ssssnakes and other Reptiles

BE WARNED. THERE ARE GOING TO BE A FEW PICTURES OF REPTILES TO INCLUDE SNAKES. So you can skip this post if you have an aversion to pictures of snakes, and lizards, and such. Otherwise enjoy the latest installment... Just do not claim you were not warned about the snakes.

I think snakes get a bad rap. Sure there are some dangerous ones, but a person can go a long way simply by paying attention to their surroundings. And walk away from an area if you see a snake. Most of them would prefer to avoid you anyway.

You will see a variety of snakes out and about on this page. Many are rattlesnakes fo the Southwest.. And a shot or two of Nyoka just for fun. I started with the non-poisonous ones.

The majority after this will be rattlesnakes and other poisonous critters. I think you can handle it. They are only pictures after all.

See that wasn't too bad. I just happen to like taking picture of different subjects around me. I have never met a snake I did not like, but I can't say the same things about people. :)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Desert Waters...

The desert... and water. Or lack thereof. Either way you get to view a few desert images. A Desert Rat's delight. At least I think so.

Living in the desert makes me appreciate the little things. Bugs, flowers, and just the fragile world around us. Here are some of my favorite images that evoke an emotion from the world around me here in Arizona. Living in the desert also makes me appreciate clean drinking water and air conditioning. ;)

Some of these photos were shot with an extension tube set I have for my Nikon gear. Just about all of them were shot using a tripod for steadiness. You have to look close at some of the shots as there are some surprises. One of my favorite is the Saguaro with the Prickly Pear growing out of it about half way up. Kind of cool how nature seems to be able to get along in the right conditions. Even in the desert.

Some will say that a desert lacks life and color. I would have to disagree. I have spent many years in various deserts and each one is full of life. Sometimes you have to look a little closer. The rains will bring almost immediate life to what before seemed parched and dry. All you have to do is stick around long enough to see it.

Don't get me wrong. The desert can be a desolate place to be. Without cleansing rain the plants, animals, and all seem to wither and die. Too much rain can wash away the soil and destory the plants, also affecting the wildlife and other critters that live there. I look at it as a type of balancing act that has been going on for ages.

Desert Waters Correctional Outreach is the name of an organization that helps out Correctional Officers and their families. I have worked with the folks that run it and they are incredibly caring and insightful folks. is the website. I still continue to work with them as much as possible since they are still Colorado. Of course I am kind of partial to the folks that they help. We could all use some cleansing rain.