Current Weather
The Spy FM

Beneath A Glacier’s White, Researchers See Green

Filed by KOSU News in Science.
May 27, 2013

In the news business, an evergreen is a story that doesn’t have to run on a particular day, but can stay fresh for a long time.

This is an evergreen story about an evergreen. In particular, a group of plants called bryophytes. Turns out they may be evergreen quite a bit longer than most people thought.

The most famous bryophyte of them all is moss. “After a hundred years, a moss may look perfectly natural and even retain its green color,” says Jonathan Shaw, a scientist at the bryology lab at Duke University.

But a hundred years is nothing compared with the bryophytes Catherine La Farge and her colleagues found on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic. The Teardrop Glacier on Ellesmere Island has been receding rather rapidly recently. “We were aware that there was vegetation coming out from underneath the glacier,” La Farge says. “But we had no idea that there was such a diversity of bryophytes that were coming out from underneath the glacier.”

But if the diversity was impressive, even more so was what they saw when they brought the bryophytes back to their laboratory in Edmonton, Alberta.

“The material actually looked quite green when we examined it underneath the microscope. And in examining it in more detail, there was actually growth coming from the material,” La Farge says. In other words, not only were the plants still green, they were green and growing, something La Farge says is pretty amazing.

She says bryophytes don’t typically get a lot of attention from botanists, compared to the gaudier seed plants most people are familiar with.

As La Farge and her colleagues write in the current issue of the journal PNAS, “Our results emphasize the unrecognized resilience of bryophytes, which are commonly overlooked vis-a-vis their contribution to the establishment, colonization and maintenance of polar terrestrial ecosystems.”

In fact, as glaciers around the world continue to recede, we may be hearing a lot more about bryophytes. [Copyright 2013 NPR]

Leave a Reply

7PM to 9PM The Oklahoma Rock Show

The Oklahoma Rock Show

The Oklahoma Rock Show filters through dozens of submissions a week to find the best in new local music. Ryan LaCroix is the host and mastermind behind the show and teaches at the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma (ACM@UCO).

Listen Live Now!

9PM to 5AM The Spy

The Spy

An eclectic mix of the Spy's library of more than 10,000 songs curated by Ferris O'Brien.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center