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Population Structure of the Epiphytic Lichen Usnea Longissima in a Boreal Picea Abies Canopy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2007

Yngvar Gauslaa
Department of Biology and Nature Conservation, The Agricultural University of Norway, P.O. Box 5014, N-1432 Ås, Norway.


Usnea longissima was sampled in SE Norway on six main branches of one Picea abies, comprising its full vertical canopy range. Nearly all specimens (n = 781) were unattached and fragmented, in contrast with associated lichens. A combination of weak axes and lack of holdfasts resulted in a population of repeatedly displaced thalli, a similar situation as in ground-dwelling vagant lichens. Comparisons with a litterfall population indicated that thalli, regardless of size, had a similar probability to end as litter on the ground. Specimens were frequently sorediate, but only 12 small thalli with a basal holdfast had been directly recruited through soredial establishment. Its patchy distribution within apparently homogenous forest stands is probably a consequence of a rare successful long-range dispersal through soredia coupled with an abundant local dispersal of coarse thallus fragments. Old forests with ample, diffuse skylight at lower and humid canopy levels are probably essential to maintain a vagant epiphytic life form with a predominantly downward dispersal of thallus fragments.

Research Article
Copyright © British Lichen Society 1997

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