Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Global Range: Norway and Sweden and on the Canadian coast from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (Save Our Species Canada 1998).
Habitat and Ecology
The species has very low growth and reproductive rates.
Comments: Grows on the bark of coniferous trees (Save Our Species Canada 1998). In Scandinavia, the substrate was exclusively small twigs of Picea abies in very humid, shaded forests in small brook ravines on marine sediments with a field layer dominated by large ferns and herbs. Individuals grow close to naturally occurring gaps (small swamps) which might indicate demands for rather high incident light as well as a stable, high humidity. In North America, has also been found on the trunks of trees, mainly of Abies balsamea. Associated with other noteworthy threatened lichens like Pannaria ahlneri and Pseudocyphellaria crocata (The threatened macrolichen project 1996).
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: 1 - 20
Comments: In Norway, known from three old localities, now extirpated, and two recently discovered localities in Canada (The threatened macrolichen project 1996). With the recent discovery of a new site, Erioderma pedicellatum is now known from two locations in Nova Scotia (Cameron 2004). It is likely extirpated from New Brunswick (Cameron 2004). One location in Scandinanvia is still known to exist (Holien et al. 1995 in Cameron 2004).
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- Needs updating
The major threats to this species are habitat destruction through logging and air pollution. The decline (considered irreversible) of the global population (i.e., loss of local subpopulations) is > 80%. The area of occupancy for the Newfoundland population is 23.35 km². The number of individuals in the Canadian subpopulation (based on thallus counts during the past five years) is about 5,074 thalli.
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N1 - Critically Imperiled
Rounded National Status Rank: NH - Possibly Extirpated
Rounded National Status Rank: NH - Possibly Extirpated
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Erioderma pedicellatum is restricted to cool, maritime climates and is known from Norway and Sweden and on the Canadian coast from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. It is highly sensitive to acid rain and has experienced dramatic (>90%) declines in occurrences and individuals in the Atlantic (Nova Scotia and New Brunswick) populations over the last two decades and substantial losses in the boreal (Newfoundland) populations as well (COSEWIC 2002). It is also threatened by logging (Cameron 2004). Dispersed and very large populations, however, still exist in protected areas in Newfoundland. Erioderma pedicellatum was recently found at a new site in Nova Scotia, bringing the total number of known locations in Nova Scotia to two (Cameron 2004). It is likely extirpated from New Brunswick (Cameron 2004).
Global Short Term Trend: Decline of 30 to >90%
Comments: Erioderma pedicellatum is declining in North America (The threatened macrolichen project 1996). Over 90% declines in occurrences and individuals of the Atlantic coastal populations over the past two decades due to pollution (acid rain) and other habitat degredation (COSEWIC 2002). Numerous losses of boreal populations have also been documented (COSEWIC 2002). In the 1980's, Wolfgang Maass identified 40 locations where Erioderma pedicellatum was found. Today only one of the original locations still has the lichen (Cameron 2004).
Degree of Threat: Very high - high
Comments: The greatest threat to Erioderma pedicellatum is acid rain (Cameron 2004). Erioderma pedicellatum is highly susceptible to atmospheric pollution and has experienced dramatic (>90%) declines in occurrences and individuals in the Atlantic (Nova Scotia and New Brunswick) populations over the last two decades and substantial losses in the boreal (Newfoundland) populations as well (The threatened macrolichen project 1996, COSEWIC 2002). It may be more sensitive to acid rain than other cyanolichens because it inhabits an already acid environment, boreal coniferous forest (Cameron 2004). Erioderma pedicellatum is also subject to habitat destruction through logging; it often grows on commercial species of trees (Cameron 2004). In Norway, three localities have been clearcut. The two recently discovered localities are threatened by logging, which not only directly removes possible substrates, but also indirectly alters the microclimate in adjacent woodland areas. In North America, the lichen has suffered dieback and losses due to the destruction of old-growth oceanic forest and air pollution (Save Our Species Canada 1998).
Erioderma pedicellatum is a medium-sized, foliose lichen in the family Pannariaceae, commonly called boreal felt lichen because of its fuzzy appearance. It grows on trees in damp boreal forests along the Atlantic coast, as well as in southcentral Alaska. It is currently one of the most endangered lichens in the world.
Erioderma pedicellatum is a foliose cyanolichen with lobes 2–5 cm across, and occasionally reaching 12 cm in diameter. It has a distinctively fuzzy upper surface that is greyish-brown when dry and slate-blue when moist. The underside is white, and its edges usually curl upwards, giving it the appearance of having a white fringe. It differs from the two other North American species of Erioderma by lacking soredia, and by having small, reddish-brown apothecia on its upper surface.
Taxonomy and naming
Erioderma pedicellatum was first collected in 1902 from Campobello Island, Charlotte County, New Brunswick, Canada, by William Gilson Farlow. It was originally identified as a species of Pannaria and named P. pedicellata by French botanist Auguste-Marie Hue. It remained in this genus until 1972 when it was reexamined by the Norwegian botanist Per Magnus Jørgensen and placed in the genus Erioderma as E. pedicellatum. It is an unusual species within that genus, both because of its laminal apothecia (lacking in other Erioderma) and its boreal distribution. Erioderma pedicellatum has also been incorrectly called E. boreale.
Distribution and ecology
Erioderma pedicellatum is an amphi-Atlantic species that was once prevalent in Norway and Sweden as well as the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland in Atlantic Canada. Very recently, a small population was discovered in Denali area of Alaska, increasing the known range of the species. It has disappeared from both Norway and Sweden and most areas of Atlantic Canada. It is no longer found in New Brunswick, and as of 2009 there were less than 200 individuals known in Nova Scotia. The remaining habitat in Newfoundland is therefore critical for the global survival of this species. Lockyer's Waters and Hall’s Gullies on the Avalon Peninsula in the southeast of Newfoundland, as well as Bay d'Espoir in the south, are three of the province's most prolific rare lichen habitats and are important for the conservation of Erioderma pedicellatum.
This lichen grows on the mossy trunks and branches of trees on slopes in areas that have a constant supply of moisture and are rich in Sphagnum moss. It is usually found on balsam fir, occasionally on black spruce, and rarely on white spruce, red maple, or white birch. It does not appear to grow directly on bare bark, and is usually found growing in association with the epiphytic liverwort Frullania asagrayana.
A healthy, mature specimen of Erioderma pedicellatum can grow at a rate of 11 to 14 mm per year, and populations of this lichen have a generation time of about 30 years. The Scytonema cyanobacteria photobiont of this lichen make it particularly sensitive to acid rain and other atmospheric pollutants. It requires relatively cool and moist oceanic climates and an open canopy, and it deteriorates rapidly on dead trees, or if habitat succession occurs that reduces or increases light availability. Altered microclimatic conditions caused by extensive logging nearby to the lichen also cause it to deteriorate.
Old growth balsam fir forests in wet areas of eastern Canada regenerate by gap replacement, which creates a mosaic of forest stands of different ages while maintaining a full or partial canopy for millennia. As a result, these forests can support a unique biota, including Erioderma pedicellatum. It appears that this mosaic of forest stands of different ages is necessary for a viable population of E. pedicellatum. Natural dispersal of E. pedicellatum is evidently possible within these old-growth forests, but there are no known examples of E. pedicellatum establishing in stands previously clear-cut.
Erioderma pedicellatum, like all lichens, is a symbiosis, in this instance between an ascomycete fungus and cyanobacteria of the genus Scytonema, and is therefore capable of fixing nitrogen. This symbiotic organism may also be part of second symbiosis with the epiphytic liverwort Frullania asagrayana. The symbiosis between the free-living Scytonema and the germinating ascomycete spores of Erioderma pedicellatum is hypothesized to begin within the water sacs of Frullania asagrayana, where the fungal hyphae assimilates a cyanobacterium, and needs to develop for 5 to 10 years before it reaches a visible size. The liverwort may also benefit from the nitrogen that is being fixed by the cyanolichen growing within it. This complex relationship means that the ecological balance between Erioderma pedicellatum and its cyanobacterial symbiont (Scytonema), its host tree, and (potentially) its liverwort nursemaid (Frullania asagrayana), is very delicate and easily impacted by logging, air pollution, and other factors.
Erioderma pedicellatum is currently listed as endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). No other lichen is listed by the IUCN but one fungus is considered critically endangered by the IUCN (Pleurotus nebrodensis).
Two of the main populations of Erioderma pedicellatum in Newfoundland are currently within protected areas: Jipujijkuei Kuespem Provincial Park and the Lockyer’s Waters interim protected area. The Lockyer’s Waters interim protected area was established specifically to protect this lichen. The Bay du Nord Wilderness Area in Newfoundland also includes some populations of the lichen. The Hall’s Gullies site, which also includes the endangered lichen Erioderma mollissimum, is more in jeopardy as it remains a designated cut block under the current Forest Management Operating Plan. It has been noted that populations of this lichen can decline even in protected areas, which has been linked to air pollution and introduced herbivores such as moose.
The Atlantic population of the Erioderma pedicellatum is protected in Canada under the Federal Species at Risk Act (SARA), and is the focus of an ongoing recovery strategy. Crucially, efforts are being made, through land purchases and agreements with landowners, to formally protect areas of forest that are home to this rare species. Furthermore, conservationists are engaging with private and government forest managers to encourage their participation in the mapping of boreal felt lichen habitat and the implementation of management plans that will prevent further habitat loss.
This article incorporates text from the ARKive fact-file "Boreal felt lichen" under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License and the GFDL.
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