Last week your JCU Environmentalist enjoyed all the free food he got from Diversity Week. This got me thinking about all the most important kind of diversity on campus: biodiversity. Biodiversity is the wide variety of different life forms present in an ecosystem. Without the super abundant biodiversity that has evolved here on earth we wouldn’t have food, medicines, or even pets. We need biodiversity to survive, but luckily we don’t have to go far to see some awesome biodiversity.
Biodiversity sounds cool, like something Cleveland wouldn’t have. Biodiversity is something that interesting places like rainforests and Seattle have. Wrong! In fact just by walking to class you can enjoy some really cool biodiversity.
Since it is fall we have all noticed the pretty trees, which are examples of flowering plants. In the spring we will see the trees put out their flowers, some are really pretty like cherries and magnolias, and some just cause seasonal allergies. But not all trees produce flowers. Pine trees, which you can recognise by their needle or scale like leaves and by their pine cones, don’t have flowers.
Behind the Caf, JCU has a really cool tree: a Ginko. This tree looks like one of the flowering trees because it has pretty yellow leaves, but is actually more closely related to the aforementioned pine trees. Ginko, which you may also know from the Ginkgo biloba “memory enhancer” additive in your tea produces a cone that looks more like a yellow fruit than a cone. The weirdest thing is this cone smells like rotting butter.
“That’s cool I guess” you might be saying to yourself “But those are just plants. And plants are lame”. Well then, if plants don’t make you feel warm and fuzzy then you must be dead inside. But don’t be dishearten by souless tree hater, John Carroll has more than just plants.
Walking from Dolan Science Center to the Library one can observe lichens growing on the trees. Lichens are actually two organisms in one, an algae and a fungus living together in harmony. The fungus is besties with an algae and provides protection and moisture for the algae while the algae provides the fungus with sugars to eat. And lest you think lichens are just peace loving hippies some lichens can dissolve rocks.
And don’t forget about animals on campus. #JCUSquirrel is the first to come to mind, but it is far from the most interesting vertebrate on campus: Homo Sapiens, or humans. You, dear reader, are a part of your own biodiversity. And while you can’t produce a beautiful flower, remember that you are one. And unlike any other plant, animal, fungi or cyanobacterium on this planet humans can appreciate and understand the vast complexity and beauty of life around us. We have a duty to protect the environment around us by living in an environmentally conscientious way, because not only is biodiversity all around us and super cool, we wouldn’t be here without it.
Stay Green and Stay Classy JCU.