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Research article2016Peer reviewedOpen access

Broad-scale distribution of epiphytic hair lichens correlates more with climate and nitrogen deposition than with forest structure

Esseen, P. -A.; Ekstrom, M.; Westerlund, B.; Palmqvist, K.; Jonsson, B. G.; Grafstrom, A.; Stahl, G.


Hair lichens are strongly influenced by forest structure at local scales, but their broad-scale distributions are less understood. We compared the occurrence and length of Alectoria sarmentosa (Ach.) Ach., Bryoria spp., and Usnea spp. in the lower canopy of > 5000 Picea abies (L.) Karst. trees within the National Forest Inventory across all productive forest in Sweden. We used logistic regression to analyse how climate, nitrogen deposition, and forest variables influence lichen occurrence. Distributions overlapped, but the distribution of Bryoria was more northern and that of Usnea was more southern, with Alectoria's distribution being intermediate. Lichen length increased towards northern regions, indicating better conditions for biomass accumulation. Logistic regression models had the highest pseudo R-2 value for Bryoria, followed by Alectoria. Temperature and nitrogen deposition had higher explanatory power than precipitation and forest variables. Multiple logistic regressions suggest that lichen genera respond differently to increases in several variables. Warming decreased the odds for Bryoria occurrence at all temperatures. Corresponding odds for Alectoria and Usnea decreased in warmer climates, but in colder climates, they increased. Nitrogen addition decreased the odds for Alectoria and Usnea occurrence under high deposition, but under low deposition, the odds increased. Our analyses suggest major shifts in the broad-scale distribution of hair lichens with changes in climate, nitrogen deposition, and forest management.


climate change; epiphytic lichens; forest structure; nitrogen deposition; temperature

Published in

Canadian Journal of Forest Research
2016, Volume: 46, number: 11, pages: 1348-1358