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Performance of Macrolichens and Lichen Genera as Indicators of Lichen Species Richness and Composition

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Abstract:  In the search for cost‐effective methods for measuring and monitoring lichen diversity, we tested the performance of two possible indicators: lichen genus diversity and macrolichen diversity. We studied the lichen vegetation of eight European countries situated in six different biogeographic regions. In each country, six land‐use units (each 1 km2) representing a land‐use gradient ranging from old‐growth forest to farmland were sampled (n = 48) for terricolous, saxicolous, and epiphytic lichens at 16 plots each. We found 768 different lichen species belonging to 157 genera. Relationships between richness and density of genera and species, species and macrolichens, and crustose lichens and macrolichens were highly significant (p < 0.001) for all substrates combined and for epiphytic and saxicolous lichens. Richness and density of genera and macrolichens explained a large amount of variation of the species richness and density (R 2 : 71.9%–98.0%). The relationship between crustose lichens and macrolichens explained less of the variation (R 2 : 37.7%–70.1%). Effects of land‐use intensity on the richness and density of genera, species, and crustose lichens were similar, except for a strong difference between the forested and the more open land‐use units for epiphytic crustose lichens. For epiphytic macrolichens there were fewer significant effects. Detrended correspondence analysis indicated similar ordering of sites along the major gradients and similar length of these gradients for genera, species, macrolichens, and crustose lichens. Both genera and macrolichens are useful indicators of total lichen species richness and density. Macrolichens, however, are more suitable indicators than genera owing to (1) their more stable taxonomy of species than of genera, (2) the potential that nonspecialists could do the sampling, (3) the limited use of genera data for species conservation, and (4) the fact that species extinctions will not be indicated by nonmonotypic genera.
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Language: English

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Zürcherstrasse 111 CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland 2: Museu Nacional de História Natural, Jardim Botanico, Rua da Escola Politécnica, 58, 1250-102 Lisboa, Portugal 3: I de Böde, CH-6010 Kriens, Switzerland 4: IRD, Centre Ile de France, Universités de Paris VI, VII et XII, 32 Avenue Henri de Varagnat, 93143 Bondy Cedex, France 5: Institute of Ecology and Botany, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, H-2163 Vacratot, Hungary 6: Engelstr. 5, CH-8004 Zürich, Switzerland 7: Department of Ecology and Systematics, P.O. Box 65, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland 8: Department of Botany, Hungarian Natural History Museum, H-1476 Budapest, Pf. 222, Hungary 9: The Finnish Forest Research Institute,Vantaa Research Centre, Vantaa Unit, PL 18, 01301 Vantaa, Finland 10: FCUL, Centro de Ecologia e Biologia Vegetal, Depto. de Biologia Vegetal, Bloco 2C, Campo Grande, 1749-016, Lisboa, Portugal 11: Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), Banchory, Hill of Brathens, Banchory, Aberdeenshire AB31 4BW, Scotland 12: Departamento de Biología Vegetal II, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad Complutense, E-28040 Madrid, Spain 13: Department of Botany, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, United Kingdom

Publication date: August 1, 2005

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