Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Reindeer lichen

Continuing with our Arctic botany theme this week, today's photograph is of "reindeer lichen" (also known as "reindeer moss"). This lichen is a pale whitish-grey and covers huge areas of the forest with a ghostly, spongy carpet.


Reindeer lichen (Finnish = Poronjäkälä, Latin = Cladonia rangiferina)

It is a source of food for the reindeer and this is clearly seen by the fact that it is prominent in the areas that are fenced off to stop the reindeer from getting in. In fact, it is just as well there are some protected areas around the observatory (although our motivation is to protect the equipment), as the reindeer would otherwise totally overgraze the lichen (which is very slow growing and takes many years to establish tick ground cover like that shown here.

This reindeer fence marks the edge of the lichen carpet

PS:  Oh, and we should point out that all the photographs this week are from around the area near Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory (SGO, Tähtelä) which is where the researchers work. This is an Arctic boreal climate, which is somewhat different from the area where KAIRA itself is.

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