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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2012

Contrasting changes in palatability following senescence of the lichenized fungi Lobaria pulmonaria and L. scrobiculata

Asplund, Johan; Wardle, David


Epiphytic lichens can contribute significantly to ecosystem nutrient input because they efficiently accumulate atmospheric mineral nutrients and, in the case of cyanolichens, also fix nitrogen. The rate at which carbon and other nutrients gained by lichens enters the ecosystem is determined by lichen litter decomposability and by invertebrate consumption of lichen litter. In turn, these processes are driven by the secondary compounds present in senesced lichens. Therefore, we explored how lichen palatability and concentrations of secondary compounds change with tissue senescence for Lobaria pulmonaria, a green algal lichen with cyanobacterial cephalodia, and L. scrobiculata, a cyanobacterial lichen. During senescence both lichens lost 38-48% of their stictic acid chemosyndrome, while m-scrobiculin and usnic acid in L. scrobiculata remained unchanged. Snails preferred senesced rather than fresh L. pulmonaria, while senesced L. scrobiculata were avoided. This provides evidence that species with labile secondary compounds will have higher turnover rates, through consumption and decomposition, than those producing more stable secondary compounds.


Cepea hortensis; decomposition; gastropods; herbivory; secondary compounds; snails

Published in

Fungal Ecology
2012, volume: 5, number: 6, pages: 710-713

Authors' information

Asplund, Johan
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science

Publication Identifiers


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