Hot-spots of epiphytic and epixylic lichens in fragmented temperate forests are underpinned by microhabitat heterogeneity and spatiotemporal habitat continuity

Hofmeister J., Pouska V., Palice Z., Šoun J., Gloor R., Brabec M. & Vondrák J.
Biological Conservation
292: 110563 [9 p.]
Habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation are major causes of the ongoing decline of epiphytic and epixylic lichen species in temperate forests throughout Europe. We investigated how extant species richness and composition of epiphytic and epixylic lichen communities in ten hot-spots of lichen diversity in the Czech Republic reflected the occurrence and properties of potentially suitable microhabitats and habitats. At each hot-spot, we surveyed a pair of 1-ha square plots, one in (over-)mature managed and the second in unmanaged forest. In total, we recorded 513 epiphytic and epixylic lichen species which represent a substantial part of lichen biota in Central Europe. Species richness and composition of lichen communities were explained by microhabitat heterogeneity, and also by the area of near-natural forest habitats (habitat extent) at the landscape scale. In addition, lichen species richness and number of red-listed species were explained by a categorial variable distinguishing mature managed and unmanaged plots, used as a proxy of temporal continuity of natural succession. This finding illustrates that temporal continuity of natural succession in unmanaged forests likely had an extra stimulus for lichen communities that may not be reflected by observed aspects of forest habitats. Hence, we confirmed indispensable positive effects of (micro)habitat heterogeneity, and spatial and temporal continuity for preserved hot-spots of lichen diversity in Central Europe. Due to generally slow colonization-extinction dynamics of epiphytic and epixylic lichens we call for strengthening microhabitat heterogeneity, and the spatial and temporal continuity of European temperate forests at the landscape scale. Keywords: Biodiversity; Forest management; Microhabitat; Near-natural forest; Species richness; Species turnover.
Thursday, 28 March 2024 14:07