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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Reinventory of permanent plots show that kelo lichens face an extinction debt

Ekstrom, Albin Larsson; Sjogren, Jorgrn; Djupstrom, Line Boberg; Thor, Goran; Lofroth, Therese


Intensive forestry has led to landscape level deficits of important substrates such as deadwood and its associated biodiversity. Several taxa face extinction debts due to continuous declines and lack of regeneration of important habitats. Deadwood-dependent lichens are of great conservation concern due to a general lack of deadwood and due to their slow establishment, especially of rare species. In a field restoration experiment in central Sweden, we studied deadwood-dependent lichens for eight years, their association to different types of deadwood and their response to environmental change caused by variable retention forestry, deadwood enrichment and prescribed burning. Prescribed burning and site preparation caused depauperate lichen species assemblages throughout the study period but retention felling did not majorly affect lichen species assemblages. We found that lichen species were nested along deadwood qualities and deadwood created in the experiment only hosted a subset of lichen species found on kelo wood. Despite large reductions of kelo wood with lichen occurrences over the study period, overall species richness did not decrease. The fact that a large part of the lichen community occur only on kelo wood and that kelo wood is not regenerated implies that lichens associated with kelo wood face an extinction debt. In order to avoid local extinctions of deadwood-dependent lichens, site preparation and prescribed burning should be avoided in areas rich in high quality deadwood. There is urgent need to start creating new kelo wood through reoccurring fires in order to halt the impending extinction debt.


Nestedness; Species turnover; Deadwood; Biodiversity; Boreal forest; Conservation

Published in

Biological Conservation
2023, Volume: 288, article number: 110363Publisher: ELSEVIER SCI LTD