Overview

Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

Russian Federation

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: In the U.S., occurs in the mountains of western North Carolina (Avery, Mitchell, Swain, Yancey, Haywood, and Jackson Counties) and adjacent Tennessee. Also occurs in Europe according to a summary, written by J. Amoroso (NCHP), of a status report. Reported from the Khibiny Mountains of the former Soviet Union by Konstantinova (1978).

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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: In the southern Appalachians of the United States, the plants grow on the bark of Fraser fir, mountain-ash, and occasionally red spruce on mountain peaks above 1830 m elevation. The plants appear to require dense shade and moist conditions of mist and fog. Associated species are Bazzania nudicaulis, Plagiochila corniculata, Herbertus aduncus, and Anomylia cuneifolia. It seems to prefer somewhat smoother bark than other bark-inhabiting bryophytes in the fir forests. The European plants, considered to be the same species, grow almost exclusively on rock outcrops (Boyer 1997 and Hicks 1996).

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

Russian Federation

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N2 - Imperiled

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G2 - Imperiled

Reasons: In the United States, Sphenolobopsis pearsonii species is restricted to the the highest peaks in the southern Appalachians of North Carolina and Tennessee. It is believed to be in decline due to the devastation of the southern high elevation fir forests caused by an introduced insect pest (the balsam woolly adelgid). In recent years many of the dominant Fraser firs (Abies fraseri) have died as a result of this pest, causing openings in the forest canopy. Sphenolobopsis pearsonii has not been found in these more open areas. Plants considered to be the same species also occur in Europe.

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Threats

Comments: Alteration of the spruce-fir biome that the plant is dependent on has been caused by infestation of the balsam wooly aldegid. The Frasier firs have been killed by the insects, which has opened up the canopy. Seedlings are still growing in the area, as the trees aren't affected until they are 6-8 years old. However, the bark of the young trees is not suitable for bryophytes.

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: USFWS tracks old spelling - S. 'PEARSONI' (9/93).

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