Several experimental studies support the effectiveness of lichen diversity as an indicator of environmental change. On the contrary, the potential of functional trait values of epiphytic lichens as indicators of environmental conditions is still poorly documented. Comparisons of lichen diversity across diverse regions may be problematic due to high levels of floristic variation related to differences in environmental conditions (e.g. climate and substrate availability and types). Species' functional traits may prove to be a user-friendly tool for large-scale and long-term ecological monitoring. This paper explores the use of functional traits of epiphytic lichen species as indicators of environmental conditions: we tested the susceptibility of the three easily discernible functional traits (growth form, reproductive strategy, and photobiont type) to environmental factors related to climate, human disturbance, and stand structure. Lichen diversity and associated species traits were recorded in 14 plots within the Italian ForestBiota network representing the four main forest types of Italy. For each plot, several predictors of forest structure, climatic features, and human-related disturbances were recorded. A forward variable selection method, based on permutations and parametric tests, was used to evaluate the response of lichen diversity and functional traits. Of the three species traits, growth form was the most responsive and was a reliable indicator for evaluating and comparing the responses of epiphytic lichens to climate, human disturbance, and stand structure-related conditions in forest ecosystems across diverse regions. However, further research is needed to better clarify the potential of lichen traits in bioindication.

Functional traits of epiphytic lichens as potential indicators of environmental conditions in forest ecosystems

GIORDANI, PAOLO;BACARO, Giovanni;NASCIMBENE, JURI
2012

Abstract

Several experimental studies support the effectiveness of lichen diversity as an indicator of environmental change. On the contrary, the potential of functional trait values of epiphytic lichens as indicators of environmental conditions is still poorly documented. Comparisons of lichen diversity across diverse regions may be problematic due to high levels of floristic variation related to differences in environmental conditions (e.g. climate and substrate availability and types). Species' functional traits may prove to be a user-friendly tool for large-scale and long-term ecological monitoring. This paper explores the use of functional traits of epiphytic lichen species as indicators of environmental conditions: we tested the susceptibility of the three easily discernible functional traits (growth form, reproductive strategy, and photobiont type) to environmental factors related to climate, human disturbance, and stand structure. Lichen diversity and associated species traits were recorded in 14 plots within the Italian ForestBiota network representing the four main forest types of Italy. For each plot, several predictors of forest structure, climatic features, and human-related disturbances were recorded. A forward variable selection method, based on permutations and parametric tests, was used to evaluate the response of lichen diversity and functional traits. Of the three species traits, growth form was the most responsive and was a reliable indicator for evaluating and comparing the responses of epiphytic lichens to climate, human disturbance, and stand structure-related conditions in forest ecosystems across diverse regions. However, further research is needed to better clarify the potential of lichen traits in bioindication.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11368/2832588
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