Okay, so first off I have to admit that I was really excited about coming up with a project and participating in the science fair.
Ian and I (well, mostly me really) got our idea from reading through a Usborne book about Ecology. I found this sidebar: The sidebar talked about the presence of lichen and how it indicated the air quality in a given area. I got to thinking about it and wondered how much lichen we had at our house in the Raleigh area compared to my in-laws' house in Murphy (in the NC mountains). It also happened to be an extremely convenient project since I spent the last 10 days at their house!
First, I took pictures of lichen in Murphy: I noted that I really didn't find much lichen on live trees. The really leafy colorful lichen that indicates good air quality was exclusively on dead tree material. In fact, most of the pictures that I took were from the fence posts in the horse corral. We breathed easy in Murphy knowing that we had clean air.
When we got back home we surveyed the trees in our backyard. The only tree that had any lichen on it was alive. It was a silver maple that is probably 50 years old. I checked some dead limbs from the yard but they had no lichen. This leads me think that we have fairly polluted air here in Raleigh. We had a bit of the leafy stuff but almost no lichen at all on the newer trees and bushes. Yikes!
It was fun to take a small blurb in a book and really run with it and think about how it applies to our everyday life. Thanks for the great idea, Iain and Evie!!