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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Contrasting Environmental Drivers Determine Biodiversity Patterns in Epiphytic Lichen Communities along a European Gradient

Hurtado, Pilar; Prieto, Maria; de Bello, Francesco; Aragon, Gregorio; Lopez-Angulo, Jesus; Giordani, Paolo; Maria Diaz-Pena, Eva; Vicente, Rebeca; Merinero, Sonia; Kosuthova, Alica; Benesperi, Renato; Bianchi, Elisabetta; Mayrhofer, Helmut; Nascimbene, Juri; Grube, Martin; Wedin, Mats; Westberg, Martin; Martinez, Isabel;


Assessing the ecological impacts of environmental change on biological communities requires knowledge of the factors driving the spatial patterns of the three diversity facets along extensive environmental gradients. We quantified the taxonomic (TD), functional (FD), and phylogenetic diversity (PD) of lichen epiphytic communities in 23 beech forests along Europe to examine their response to environmental variation (climate, habitat quality, spatial predictors) at a continental geographic scale. We selected six traits related to the climatic conditions in forest ecosystems, the water-use strategy and the nutrient uptake, and we built a phylogenetic tree based on four molecular markers. FD and climate determined TD and PD, with spatial variables also affecting PD. The three diversity facets were primarily shaped by distinct critical predictors, with the temperature diurnal range affecting FD and PD, and precipitation of the wettest month determining TD. Our results emphasize the value of FD for explaining part of TD and PD variation in lichen communities at a broad geographic scale, while highlighting that these diversity facets provide complementary information about the communities' response under changing environmental conditions. Furthermore, traits such as growth form, photobiont type, and reproductive strategy mediated the response of lichen communities to abiotic factors emerging as useful indicators of macroclimatic variations.


beech forests; climate; epiphytic lichen; functional diversity; functional trait; latitudinal gradient; phylogenetic diversity; taxonomic diversity

Published in


2020, volume: 8, number: 12, article number: 1913
Publisher: MDPI

Authors' information

Hurtado, Pilar
Universidad Rey Juan Carlos
Prieto, Maria
Universidad Rey Juan Carlos
de Bello, Francesco
University of South Bohemia Ceske Budejovice
Aragon, Gregorio
Universidad Rey Juan Carlos
Lopez-Angulo, Jesus
Universidad Rey Juan Carlos
Giordani, Paolo
University of Genoa
Maria Diaz-Pena, Eva
Universidad Rey Juan Carlos
Vicente, Rebeca
Universidad Rey Juan Carlos
Merinero, Sonia
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Kosuthova, Alica
Swedish Museum of Natural History
Benesperi, Renato
University of Florence
Bianchi, Elisabetta
University of Florence
Mayrhofer, Helmut
University of Graz
Nascimbene, Juri
University of Bologna
Grube, Martin
University of Graz
Wedin, Mats
Swedish Museum of Natural History
Westberg, Martin
Uppsala University
Martinez, Isabel
Universidad Rey Juan Carlos

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