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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2016

A survey method for assessing the richness of epiphytic lichens using growth forms

Aragon, Gregorio; Belinchon, Rocio; Martinez, Isabel; Prieto, Maria


The species richness of epiphytic lichens is continuously decreasing by degradation and loss of habitat. Considering that taxonomic identification of all species is time and resource consuming, rapid assessment methods to extrapolate the total number of species are needed for practical conservation. This paper describes an alternative method using the correlation between lichens growth forms and species richness. The study was conducted in 406 forest stands located in Central Spain, covering a wide range of mediterranean-climate ecosystem regions, management intensity levels, canopy cover conditions, and tree sizes. The presence/absence of epiphytic lichens was determined in 6090 trees, which were dominated by oak species (Quercus ilex, Q, faginea, and Q. pyrenaica). In all type of forests, the diversity of growth forms was positively correlated with the total epiphytic lichen richness. In all cases, species richness increased in non-managed forest stands with dense canopies. Thus, we propose the use of lichen growth forms as a helpful surrogate of species richness to detect potentially conservation priority areas in the Mediterranean region. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Mediterranean; Epiphyte; Species richness; Indicator species; Forest structure

Published in

Ecological Indicators
2016, Volume: 62, pages: 101-105

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG15 Life on land

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