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The Case of the Ozone Indicators - I'm Lichen It

Student(s):Students of Gary Popiolkowski
Grade Level:Secondary School (grades 9-12, ages 14-18)
GLOBE Educator(s):Gary Popiolkowski
Report Type(s):
Protocols:(Protocol Deactivated), Biometry (including Tree Height)
Date Submitted:05/13/2013
Screen capture from presentation
Students will collect information about the types and percent lichen coverage on our campus and in their neighborhoods and compare those results to ozone strips we prepare. Lichens will be classified into three categories as to their sensitivity to air pollution. We hypothesize that the bioindicators will compare favorably with the ozone strips and be a reliable method to measure air quality.


Very interesting study! Did you find any relationship between the type or amount of lichen and the ozone level of that area? Was there any spatial pattern in lichens or ozone? What is the next step for this project? Would you do anything differently if you were to start over?
Thank you for your interest in our study. As far as the relationship between lichen and Ozone, the more diverse the lichen are the better the air quality. Our ozone strips have measured favorably to good air quality. We have limited spatial patterns because we have not yet mapped out our 138 tree samples yet. Once we do, we hypothesize to see more of spatial pattern. Our next step for our project will be to see the relation between the lichen on trees near roads and trees that are in wooded areas. Also we would put out more ozone strips and survey more trees.
Hello Pennsylvania!
My students would like to know if some lichens grow better on certain species. Are there times of the year where the air quality might be worse? Did you always put the ozone strips in the same spot? How much traffic do you get around your school?
Thank you for your comment. At this time we don't know which species of tree lichen prefer. This would be a great idea as a project for the next 7th grade. The air quality is the worst in the summer. The warm months activate the materials that make up ground level ozone. We put the ozone strips in the same place. It just happens to be very convenient in the place we put them. In front of our school we have moderate traffic with a two lane road.
We enjoyed your project! My second class would like to know how long it will take you to finish mapping your lichen sample trees. Lichens are an indicator of air quality. Do Lichens have an effect on air pollutants?
Thanks again for your interest in our project. It will take 2-4 weeks to finish mapping out our lichen. We have done 20 out of 138 trees. Like we said it is a work in progress. That is a very good question about the effects of lichen and the effects on air pollution. Lichen turn nitrogen from the air into nitrates that can be used by plants.
Very interesting study! What was the most surprising thing you found during this research? I'm also interested to hear what the next steps are!
Our most surprising thing in our research was that the lichen matched favorably with the ozone strips. Our ozone strips indicated good air quality and so did the lichen that we found around our area. This was not as much as a surprise as it was a great feeling of excitement that we did something right in our project. Our next steps are measuring more trees for lichen. We are also going to ask questions like "Does the species of tree effect the kind or amount of lichen that is on that tree." We hope to pass this project on to the next 7th grade class.
Thank you for your intrest in our project.
I hope to see results of the next study - thank you for your response!
If you are interested, here is our url to our website: . Our website talks all about the lichens in our area. We have some pictures of our own that we have posted in our photo section. We are still working on it because after we are done mapping our lichens on Google Earth, we are going to try to include our Google Earth data on our website for others to use. Again, Thank you for your responses and interest in our study!
Hello CSI Team!
Glad to see drama and humor brought into the science class; and of course, the Who!
How did you came up with this idea of investigating lichens? What was the most fascinating piece of information that you discovered while investigating these bioindicators? I wonder if you could run this project backwards: if you locate an area with a different level of ozone, could you predict (based on your understanding) what types of lichens would be present?