Influence of time since fire and micro-habitat availability on terricolous lichen communities in black spruce (Picea mariana) boreal forests.
Saliha Zouaoui, Catherine Boudreault, Pierre Drapeau, Yves Bergeron.
Terricolous lichens are an important component of boreal forest ecosystems, both in terms of function and diversity. In this study, we examined the relative contribution of microhabitat characteristics and time elapsed since the last fire in shaping terricolous lichen assemblages in boreal forests that are frequently affected by severe stand-replacing fires. We sampled 12 stands distributed across five age classes (from 43 to >200 years). In each stand, species cover (%) of all terricolous lichen species and species richness were evaluated within 30 microplots of 1 m2. Our results show that time elapsed since the last fire was the factor that contributed the most to explaining terricolous lichen abundance and species composition, and that lichen cover showed a quadratic relationship with stand age. Habitat variables such as soil characteristics were also important in explaining lichen richness. These results suggest that the presence of suitable substrates is not sufficient for the conservation of late-successional terricolous lichen communities in this ecosystem, and that they also need relatively long periods of times for species dispersal and establishment.