Event Title

Lichen Diversity and Abundance on Sport Climbing Routes at Rumney Rocks, New Hampshire

Faculty Sponsor(s)

Diana Jolles, Thomas Stoughton

Abstract

Climbing has rapidly increased in popularity throughout the last decade. As climbing grows, so does the demand for outdoor climbing establishment. Exposed cliff faces are ideal for climbers, as well as lichens. Lichens are slow growing, dual organisms made up of fungi and algae. They play a pivotal role in nutrient cycling, making nitrogen bioavailable to plants. Given the patterns of climbing and route establishment, we hypothesized that more challenging routes would have greater lichen coverage and diversity than the easier routes. We also expected that the tops of routes would host more foliose, squamulose, and fruticose lichens, as the end of routes may be less trafficked compared to the start. The first author tested this hypothesis by rappelling over climbs with a square meter, estimating coverage of each lichen type. We found that large amounts of crustose lichen are present throughout each climb, with little to no foliose, or fruticose lichen present. Our next steps will be to compare climbs with lichen coverage estimates “off-route” to determine whether there are significant differences in coverage due to climbing activities. Our study will provide much needed information on one of the most overlooked impacts of climbers: the lichen community.

Start Date

12-4-2019 12:00 PM

End Date

12-4-2019 1:00 PM

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Dec 4th, 12:00 PM Dec 4th, 1:00 PM

Lichen Diversity and Abundance on Sport Climbing Routes at Rumney Rocks, New Hampshire

Climbing has rapidly increased in popularity throughout the last decade. As climbing grows, so does the demand for outdoor climbing establishment. Exposed cliff faces are ideal for climbers, as well as lichens. Lichens are slow growing, dual organisms made up of fungi and algae. They play a pivotal role in nutrient cycling, making nitrogen bioavailable to plants. Given the patterns of climbing and route establishment, we hypothesized that more challenging routes would have greater lichen coverage and diversity than the easier routes. We also expected that the tops of routes would host more foliose, squamulose, and fruticose lichens, as the end of routes may be less trafficked compared to the start. The first author tested this hypothesis by rappelling over climbs with a square meter, estimating coverage of each lichen type. We found that large amounts of crustose lichen are present throughout each climb, with little to no foliose, or fruticose lichen present. Our next steps will be to compare climbs with lichen coverage estimates “off-route” to determine whether there are significant differences in coverage due to climbing activities. Our study will provide much needed information on one of the most overlooked impacts of climbers: the lichen community.