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Lichens on dead wood: species-substrate relationships in the epiphytic lichen floras of the Pacific Northwest and Fennoscandia

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Dead wood is an important habitat feature for lichens in forest ecosystems, but little is known about how many and which lichens are dependent on dead wood. We reviewed substrate use by epiphytic lichens in the combined floras of Fennoscandia and the Pacific Northwest of North America based on literature and herbarium data and analyzed substrate affinity relative to life form, reproductive mode and major phylogenetic group within the floras. A total of 550 (43%) of the 1271 epiphytic species in the combined floras use wood, and 132 species (10%) are obligately associated with dead wood in one or both regions. Obligate and facultative wood-dwelling guilds in the two floras were strongly similar in terms of internal guild structure in each region, but differ somewhat in species composition, while the bark-dwelling guild differs strongly in both. Most obligate dead wood users are sexually reproducing crustose lichens. The largest numbers of species are associated with forest structural features such as logs and snags that have been greatly reduced by forest practices. Conservation of lichens inhabiting wood requires greater attention to crustose lichen species and the development of conservation strategies that look beyond numbers and volumes of dead wood and consider biologically meaningful dead wood structure types.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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