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Harvard Forest Symposium Abstract 2015

  • Title: How does a lichen grow? Using fluid mechanics as a tool to understand spore dispersal and organismal integration.
  • Primary Author: Anne Pringle (University of Wisconsin - Madison)
  • Abstract:

    Spores are tools for species' dispersal, but also impact human health. Fungal dispersal is often perceived as a passive dependence on water or wind, but by integrating perspectives from physics and biology, I am working to establish a different paradigm: fungi manipulate their physical environments to travel to new habitats. After landing in a new habitat, individuals must establish, and by collecting demographic data from a population of lichens growing in a cemetery near Harvard Forest, I am documenting how populations grow and whether the population biology of fungi is distinct from the biology of animals or plants. I am also using these data to test the hypothesis of immortality among filamentous fungi. To date, I have not found any evidence for aging among lichens, but a more explicit analysis of organismal integration across a lichen may change that view.

  • Research Category: Physiological Ecology, Population Dynamics, and Species Interactions