Photo-guide to Identification of Algae, Fungus, Lichens, Moss on, in or Related to Buildings
ALGAE, FUNGUS, LICHENS, MOSS - CONTENTS: Photographs of Algae, lichens, moss, mold help identify these substances in nature and on buildings. Microphotographs of algae, lichens, moss, mold: high magnification views of algae, lichens, moss, mold to 1200x detail characteristics of these organisms. What is the difference between moss and algae or moss and lichens? Do they affect buildings differently? We provide photos and text to help distinguish among algae, lichens, moss and mold growths on any surface.
What does Algae look like on or around buildings & Algae under the microscope?
This article series tells readers how to identify, evaluate, remove or prevent stains on building surfaces.
Black stains due to algae
Algae often appears on organic and even inorganic surfaces of buildings and in nature such as on the asphalt roof shingles in this photo.
Black algae stains can also look a lot like extractive bleeding shown in this separate article on EXTRACTIVE BLEEDING on SHINGLES which can appear on asphalt roof shingles.We think that extractive bleeding on shingles is not common while dark algae-based stains on roof surfaces are very common.
While algae is the most common source of black or green roof stains on shingles, when the staining or bleeding appears to run down the roof from individual
small points or "spots" this may be something other than a fungal growth or soot: it may b e extractive bleeding or "bleed through" on shingles.
of algae on the roof is an indicator that this roof area is in a shaded spot where you may want to be alert for
development of moss or other roof problems, but the level of damage from algae is probably low, even less than
that caused by lichens. Avoid any aggressive cleaning methods that might damage the roof surface.
Green stains that are algal growth also appear on buildings including on shingles, siding, and even on masonry walls, sidewalks, planters, and retaining walls: stone, concrete block, and concrete. If you see flat green stain on a building exterior and that is not producing any plant-like raised growth it is likely to be an algae.
Watch out: on walks and decks algae makes for a dangerously slippery surface when it is wet. Details are at SLIPPERY STAIRS, WALKS.
Examining a surface or tape lift sample of green "something" on a building surface by using an optical microscope can often quickly tell us if the green stain is biological and is algae, or if it's something else.
Algae under the microscope has a distinctive appearance that easily distinguishes it from moss, lichens, and mold, as we show here. This microphotograph of algae was made in our lab while examining a sample sent to us from our friend and mold lab expert Sue Flappan.
The original algae sample was collected from a concrete sidewalk using simple adhesive tape.
What does Lichens look like on buildings, in nature, and in the microscope?
Lichens, one of the most hardy growth organisms found in nature, can grow in harsh conditions. Lichens is often found growing on roof shingles, especially asphalt and wood shingles as we show here.
Our photographs (above) show lichens growing on an asphalt roof shingle in situ (above left). In the photo where our pen is inserted for scale (above right) we had "picked" the spot of lichens gently and flipped it over.
Our pen points to the hole left in the asphalt shingle as the lichens had such a good grip on the mineral granules that when removing the lichens it brought some of the roof protective coating along with itself. If you click to enlarge the photo at above right you'll see the actual mineral granules from the shingle adhered in the "roots" of the lichens.
See LICHENS on ROOFS for details about the causes, effects, and prevention of lichens growth on roofing surfaces.
What does Moss look like on buildings, in nature, and in the microscope?
Moss growing on any roof surface will be more severe on roof sections that area shaded and exposed to periodically damp cool weather conditions.
The presence or absence of much sunlight on a roof surface is often a determining factor in the amount of moss or lichens growth (more sun, less moss and lichens.
Moss and lichens are more than a cosmetic issue on many kinds of roofing materials - asphalt shingles, roll roofing, wood shingle roofs, wood shake roofs. By holding moisture against the roof surface lichens but more so moss speed the wear of the asphalt shingle surface in freezing climates by increasing frost damage to the mineral granule coating on the shingles.
What Moss Looks Like Under the Microscope - photos
It's easy to see the plant-like structure of moss fragments, as our photograph (left) demonstrates.
This moss sample was collected from a basement wall: we suspect that the damp conditions that produced this moss growth on the building wall also increased the risk of a mold problem in the same structure.
For an identification guide to mosses we include some resources below at Reviewers.
Online Guides to Types of Stains on Building Surfaces:
At STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING EXTERIORS we list types of stains, contaminants or discoloration seen on building exterior surfaces by stain color & appearance, by building location or material, and by stain cause. We distinguish among the following stuff that may stain or be found growing building roofs, walls, or other surfaces, with extra focus on asphalt shingle roofs as well as other roofing materials such as wood shingles, wood shakes, roll roofing, and even slate or tile roofs. Some of these types of roof stains or discoloration are only cosmetic in nature, while others may indicate growths that are likely to reduce the roof covering life.
Our photo above shows algae formation in a fresh water lake near a failed septic drainfield.
See SEPTIC DRAINFIELD FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
see SEPTIC FAILURE SPOTS where we describe where effluent typically shows up when the disposal field is failing, including causing algae blooms in nearby waterways.
Continue reading at ALGAE STAIN TEST METHODS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
Or see STONE SURFACE CLEANING METHODS for a discussion of the mechanical, chemical, lighting, heat and other methods used to remove algae, lichens, moss, and fungi from stone, masonry, roadways, and other exterior surfaces.
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Questions & answers or comments about algae, lichens, and moss growth on buildings: cause, remedy, prevention
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Guides to identifying mosses, lichens, algae Graphic Guide Ontario Mosses (some of which appear widely dispersed by climate and geographic area, not just in Ontario) which offers a graphic guide to mosses. worldofmosses.com/ggom/index.html
Also see the sources listed at worldofmosses.com/ggom/ggomBibliography.html
Also see the Journal Folia Geobotanica, Springer, Netherlands ISSN1211-9520 (Print) 1874-9348 (Online) IssueVolume 11, Number 2 / June, 1976 DOI10.1007/BF02854759 Pages217-22
The Ecology of Algae, F.E. Round, Cambridge University Press, 1984 ISBN-10: 0521269067 ISBN-13: 978-0521269063 (Available at Amazon.com) After an introduction outlining the chemical and physical characteristics of the environment, the book goes on to look at the actual habitats in which algae occur. The communities of the individual habitats such as open water, sediments, rocky shores, coral reefs, hot springs, sea ice, soil, etc., are then discussed with special phenomena highlighted, for example rhythmic activity, nitrogen fixation and buoyancy. There are also chapters on seasonal cycles of algal growth, energy flow, geographical dispersion, palaeo-ecology and contribution to sediments. The importance of algae in symbiotic relationships and their considerable significance to animal grazers in aquatic food chains are also discussed. The final chapter deals with the relationships of algae to eutrophication and pollution of water. This is an important aspect, which can only be understood through an appreciation of algal ecology.
Lichens of North America, Irwin M. Brodo, Yale University Press, 2001, ISBN-10: 0300082495, # ISBN-13: 978-0300082494 (Available at Amazon.com)
Quoting from Library Journal: Lichens are a combination of a fungus and an alga but have a unique structure and appearance quite different from either. Existing worldwide and growing on a variety of surfaces, including rocks, soil, and trees, they may appear leafy, shrubby, mossy, crusty, or jellylike and are seen in a wide range of colors, from brilliant oranges, yellows, and reds to dull grays and browns. This huge new book, written by a world authority on lichens and emeritus research scientist at the Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, provides information on about 1500 of the roughly 3600 recognized North American lichens. Part 1 introduces lichens in 14 clearly written chapters that discuss their biology, ecology, geography, environmental roles, and collection. Part 2, the heart of the book, is a guide that offers identification keys to groups, genera, and species and their descriptions, with accompanying photographs and North American distribution maps. The more than 900 truly beautiful, full-color photos were taken by the Sharnoffs, nature photographers whose work has been widely published in National Geographic, Smithsonian, and elsewhere. Of value to professionals and amateurs alike, this book is certain to be a classic reference for decades to come. Highly recommended for academic and research libraries and for public libraries where interest warrants; libraries needing only a brief yet informative introduction to lichens should consider William Purvis's inexpensive Lichens (Smithsonian Institution, 2000). William H. Wiese, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames
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