TITLE

Riparian alder ecosystems as epiphytic lichen refugia in sub-boreal spruce forests of British Columbia

AUTHOR(S)
Doering, Matthew; Coxson, Darwyn
PUB. DATE
February 2010
SOURCE
Botany;Feb2010, Vol. 88 Issue 2, p144
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Alder-dominated riparian forests represent only a small proportion of the landscape in central-interior British Columbia. However, they possess a suite of attributes that may allow them to function as refugia for canopy macrolichens. These include their deciduous habitat, their location in moist nutrient receiving sites, and their distribution as narrow corridors that cross broad regional landscapes. We have examined their potential role as lichen refugia by assessing canopy macrolichen communities in 75 riparian alder forests across a 200 km longitudinal gradient in central-interior British Columbia. Study sites were stratified equally between three climate subzones of the Sub-Boreal Spruce biogeoclimatic zone. Forty-nine macrolichen taxa were observed, including the old-growth indicator cyanolichen species Lobaria scrobiculata (Scop.) DC., L. retigera (Bory) Trevisan, Nephroma isidiosum (Nyl.) Gyelnik, and Sticta limbata (Sm.) Ach. Canonical correspondence analysis identified mean annual temperature, mean annual precipitation, age of adjacent conifer forest, and abundance of large stems (dbh >10 cm) as significant explanatory variables. Regional precipitation gradients explained the exclusion of many lichen species from both the most westerly and most easterly riparian forests, with drier summer conditions and heavy winter snowpack, respectively, being major limiting factors. Lichens preferentially occupied large leaning stems, which may provide greater precipitation interception and continuity of substrate, when compared with smaller upright alder stems. We conclude that alder-dominated riparian forests represent a major refugium for old-growth dependent lichens in British Columbia’s sub-boreal spruce landscapes and as such may provide valuable dispersal corridors between remnant old-growth coniferous forest patches.
ACCESSION #
48453415

 

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