Tree height as the main factor causing disappearance of the terricolous lichens in the lichen Scots pine forests

Sci Total Environ. 2021 Jun 1;771:144834. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.144834. Epub 2021 Jan 27.


The lichen Scots pine forests habitats are undergoing rapid disappearance across Europe. Due to the semi-natural character of this habitat and an increase of the nitrification as a result of air pollution, determination of factors responsible for the decrease in lichen field layer cover requires a comprehensive approach. Our study aimed to investigate environmental factors necessary for the determination of active protection measures in order to maintain this vulnerable habitat. Specifically, we aimed to investigate: 1) the environmental factors influencing lichen cover in the lichen Scots pine forests of Bory Tucholskie National Park; 2) the differences in habitat variables between sites with lichen-rich and bryophyte-rich field layers. In our study, we used vegetation and microhabitat properties data collected over three years of surveys, as well as ALS LiDAR data. Our results indicated that lichen and bryophyte cover, tree height, tree cover, thickness of organic matter layer, soil temperature and soil water content differed between lichen-rich and bryophyte-rich sites. We found a significant negative relationship between lichen cover recorded within the field layer and tree height. The lichen-rich field layer developed better in areas with lower tree height and thinner layer of organic matter, which created a favorable habitat conditions for lichen development. Our research revealed the previously unknown impact of tree height for the development of lichen field layer. These findings can be used to plan the active conservation measures of lichen Scots pine forests.

Keywords: 91T0; ALS LiDAR; Bryophytes; Cladonio-Pinetum community; Habitat conservation; Soil humidity; Soil temperature; Tree height.

MeSH terms

  • Ecosystem
  • Europe
  • Forests
  • Lichens*
  • Trees