Studi Trent. Sci. Nat., Acta Biol., 81 (2004), Suppl. 1: ISSN Museo Tridentino di Scienze Naturali, Trento 2005

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© Museo Tridentino di Scienze Naturali, Trento 2005

Monitoring epiphytic lichen biodiversity in a subalpine Norway spruce woodland at

Lavazè Pass and in a thermophilous pubescent oak woodland at Pomarolo, Trentino,

North Italy

Elena GoTTardINI*, Fabiana CrISToFolINI & antonella CrISToForI

IaSMa research Center, Natural resources department, Via E. Mach 1, I-38010 San Michele all’adige (TN), Italy

*Corresponding author e-mail: elena.gottardini@iasma.it

SuMMary - Monitoring epiphytic lichen biodiversity in a subalpine Norway spruce woodland at Lavazè Pass and in a thermophilous pubescent oak woodland at Pomarolo, Trentino, North Italy - Epiphytic lichens were analyzed at two forestry sites, part of an integrated monitoring programme (ICP - IM “International Cooperative Program on Forest and Integrated monitoring”): a subalpine Norway spruce woodland at lavazè Pass and a thermophilous Pubescent oak woodland at Pomarolo, in Trentino - North Italy, with the aim of obtaining information about environmental conditions. Many studies demonstrated that lichens are excellent indicators of environmental change; by virtue of their sensitivity to phytotoxic gases, the diversity of epiphytic lichens is used to estimate the effects of atmospheric pollution. obser-vations were conduced on the trunk of 10 trees of Picea excelsa and Pinus cembra at lavazè Pass and Quercus sp. and Larix decidua at Pomarolo. Two methods were adopted to evaluate lichen biodiversity (Bl): the Bl method and line cover. lichen biodiversity data were moreover compared with those obtained in a previous investigation in 1992 in the same areas. The whole data lead to formulate a naturality judgement for the environmental quality at lavazè Pass, while at Pomarolo more factors contribute to a situation of semi-alteration, inducing to suggest the presence of some environmental stress, probably air pollution.

rIaSSuNTo - Monitoraggio della biodiversità di licheni epifiti in una pecceta subalpina a Passo Lavazè e in un querceto termofilo a Pomarolo, Trentino, Nord Italia - è stata condotta l’osservazione dei licheni epifiti in due diverse aree forestali inserite in un programma integrato di monitoraggio (ICP - IM “International Cooperative Program on Forest and Integrated monitoring”): la pecceta sub-alpina di Passo lavazè e il querceto termofilo di Pomarolo, in Tren-tino - Italia settentrionale. obiettivo principale è stato ottenere informazioni relative alla situazione ambientale. Molti studi dimostrano come i licheni siano eccellenti indicatori di cambiamenti ambientali: grazie alla loro sensibilità ai gas fitotossici, la diversità dei licheni è utilizzata per stimare l’effetto degli inquinanti atmosferici. I dati sono stati raccolti dall’osservazione dei licheni rinvenuti su 10 alberi di Picea excelsa e Pinus cembra al Passo lavazè e Quercus sp. e Larix decidua a Pomarolo. Per valutare la biodiversità lichenica sono stati adottati sia il metodo Bl sia la copertura lineare. I dati di biodiversità (Bl) sono stati inoltre comparati con i valori rilevati in un’indagine svolta nel 1992 nelle stesse aree. I dati portano a formulare un giudizio di naturalità relativamente a Passo lavazè, mentre a Pomarolo più fattori contribuiscono a determinare una situazione di semi-alterazione, inducendo a supporre la presenza di alcuni fattori di stress ambientale, tra cui l’inquinamento dell’aria.

Key words: epiphytic lichens, biodiversity, forest, ecosystem, naturality, North Italy Parole chiave: licheni epifiti, biodiversità, foresta, ecosistema, naturalità, Nord Italia

1. INTroduCTIoN

It is often difficult and expensive to measure environmental parameters of an ecosystem, while it is easier and more convenient to measure the signal from a specific indicator and to use it for estimating environmental conditions. Many studies demonstra-ted that lichens are excellent indicators of environ-mental change (Will-Wolf et al. 2002a). By virtue

of their sensitivity to phytotoxic gases, the diversity of epiphytic lichens is used to estimate the effects of atmospheric pollution (Nimis et al. 1989; Piervittori 1999; Giordani et al. 2002; loppi et al. 2002). lichens are very sensitive also to microclimatic conditions, determined by differences in forest structure: in fact this affects light and moisture regimes, and these, in turn, influence the distribution and composition of lichen assemblages.

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lichens communities can be used to get informa-tions about forest management practices and, more ge-nerally, about environmental functionality (Will-Wolf

et al. 2002b). It has been shown, for example, that

fruticose and pendulous lichens like Bryoria, Usnea,

Alectoria, etc. are indicators of forest management as

well as air quality; these lichens are more abundant in older forests and/or where air quality is better.

Ecological indices, which express endurance spectrum for an ecological factor, can be associated to each species; on the basis of lichen vegetation com-position is therefore possible to interpret ecological characteristics of a site.

The aim of the present study is to describe the epiphytic lichen biodiversity (Bl) to estimate the eco-system response to stress factors in two forest areas: a subalpine Norway spruce woodland at lavazè Pass and a thermophilous pubescent oak woodland at Pomarolo, Trentino, North Italy. Since 1992 these two areas are part of the Integrated Monitoring Program (ICP-IM) of the uN-ECE.

2. MaThErIalS aNd METhodS

2.1. Choice of host trees

all observations and measures were carried out on lichens colonizing tree trunks. For the selection of the tree species, forest composition was evaluated at each site and then dominant species were chosen:

Picea excelsa (lam.) and Pinus cembra l. at lavazè

Pass, and Quercus sp. l. and Larix decidua Miller at Pomarolo.

lichen observations were done on ten trees for each tree species selected, for a total of 40 observations. Trees were selected privileging those inside the deli-mited areas for integrated monitoring (ICP-IM) and discarding trees with evident trunk damage, severe knottiness, girth < 50 cm and trunk inclination > 10°. If enough trees were not present inside the delimited area, trees were searched the outside, starting from those closer to the monitoring site.

Field work was carried out in 2001 at lavazè Pass and in 2003 at Pomarolo.

2.2. Sampling of epiphytic lichen

The following methods were applied for each tree species.

2.2.1. Lichen Biodiversity (BL)

a 50x30 cm sampling grid divided in ten units was used. The grid was positioned along the trunks, with the base at 100 cm above ground, on the side where lichen cover was highest. For each tree additional in-formations were recorded: cardinal exposure of the

grid center, trunk girth at grid base, bark condition, etc.

For each tree, all lichen species present within the sampling grid were identified, following Wirth (1980) and Nimis (1987); species nomenclature follows Nimis (2003). a frequency value was assigned, according to the number of units were each species occurred; the sum of frequencies of all species present within the grid was the Bl value of the tree. The Bl of the station was calculated for each tree species as the arithmetic mean of the ten trees examined.

This bioindication method, formerly named Index of atmospheric Purity (IaP), was applied in the same areas in 1992 (Sittoni & Gottardini 1994), and compa-rison of the two data sets enabled to draw conclusions on environmental change.

In the absence of a calibrated scale for interpreting Bl values in these two forest areas , the scale calibrated in Mediterranean areas for Tilia-Quercus (deciduous) by loppi et al. (2002) (Tab. 1) was adopted for the Pomarolo data; in sub-alpine area lavazè Pass, the Bl values were compared with those surveyed in forest ecosystems of Trentino and Veneto natural parks (Na-scimbene & Caniglia 2000).

Bl Interpretation 0 lichen desert 1-25 alteration 25-50 Semi-alteration 50-75 Semi-naturality >75 Naturality

Tab. 1 - Interpretative scale of Bl values on lime and decidu-ous oaks from the Tyrrhenian side of Italy.

Tab. 1 - Scala interpretativa dei valori di BL rilevati su tiglio e querce decidue nell’area tirrenica italiana.

Bl data for the two monitoring sites were also com-pared with those (named IaP) previously recorded in a preceding monitoring survey carried out in 1992, and statistically analyzed by t-test to find out eventual significant differences.

The ecology of each station was evaluated indirectly through the use of ecological indices, peculiar for each species, relating to the following parameters (Nimis 2003).

– Substratum ph:

1. very acid substratum (e.g., non eutrophyzed conifer bark);

2. subacid substratum (e.g., Quercus petraea (Mat-tuschka) liebl. Bark)

3. subneutral substratum; 4. slightly basic substratum;

5. basic substratum (e.g., bark with considerable calcareous dusts deposition).

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– Eutrophication: 1. no eutrophication;

2. very weak eutrophication; 3. weak eutrophication;

4. relatively high eutrophication; 5. very high eutrophication. – Poleophoby:

0, 1, 2, 3 - growing degrees of tolerance to pollu-tants.

The ecological characterization of the two sites was carried out calculating weighted mean indices, following the suggestions reported by aNPa (2001), but the values are express as classes without reduction to decimals.

2.2.2. Linear covering

around each tree trunk, 100 cm above ground, was positioned a metric rule; starting from the north, the presence along the upper side of the cord of different lichen species was recorded, registering the start and the end of each thallus in millimeters. Summing cove-rings of single species on each plant and relating them to trunk girth, it was possible to calculate percentage coverings for each lichen taxa. Converting lichen taxa presence on the trunk in degrees it was possible to individuate preferential cardinal exposures in relation to different tree species.

3. rESulTS aNd dISCuSSIoN

a list of all lichen taxa found applying the Bl method, along with frequency values, is reported for each tree (Tab. 2-5). Species with higher frequency at lavazè Pass are those classified as rather to extre-mely common in the subalpine phytoclimatical belt of Trentino-South Tyrol (Nimis 2003). as for as species surveyed in Pomarolo are concerned, they are represen-tative of the sub-Mediterranean phytoclimatic belt and present a rather high tolerance to atmospheric pollutants (Nimis 2003).

lichen biodiversity values surveyed at Pomarolo (Tab. 6), reported to the scale of table 1, show a situation of semi-alteration, while the Bl value of lavazè Pass are similar to those surveyed in Trentino and Veneto natural parks by Nascimbene & Caniglia (2000). These authors measured values of lichen biodiversity (IaP) of 77 on Picea excelsa and 71 on Pinus cembra. on the same tree species, at lavazè Pass the Bl values were 74 and 79 respectively. By this comparison, it seems reasonable to refer lavazè Pass to a situation of naturality. This conclusion is further confirmed by the information derived from visual estimation of li-chen vitality, especially for fruticose lili-chens (Tab. 6): at Pomarolo a limited number of thalli was found on few trees; in the subalpine Norway spruce woodland, fruticose lichens were present on each sampled tree, constituting more than 25% of the total.

Tab. 2 - lichen frequencies surveyed with the Bl method on Picea excelsa at lavazè Pass. Tab. 2 - Valori di frequenza lichenica rilevati con il metodo BL su Picea excelsa al Passo Lavazè.

laVazè PaSS – PICeA exCeLSA

Survey exposition in degrees (N= 0) 20 300 12 180 220 185 191 135 170 252

Tree circumference (cm) 148 152 103 162 137 152 149 172 165 120

Number of lichen species 11 12 12 9 11 11 14 11 13 10

Bl 61 76 74 66 74 70 91 71 75 77

Usnea sp. 10 10 10 5 10 10 10 10 10 10

Parmeliopsis ambigua (Wulfen) Nyl. 8 10 7 10 9 10 10 10 9 10

Platismatia glauca (l.) W.l. Culb. & C.F. Culb.& C.F. Culb. 4 9 8 10 10 10 10 10 10 8

Hypogymnia physodes (l.) Nyl. 5 10 6 10 10 6 10 9 10 10

Bryoria sp. 8 7 7 10 5 10 7 10 4 9

Calicium viride Pers. 8 8 10 5 5 10 8 10 9

Lepraria sp. 2 6 6 10 5 8 3 6 7

Pseudoevernia furfuracea (l.) zopf 5 9 8 3 2 6 2 5 9

Tuckermannopsis chlorophylla (Willd.) halehale 3 7 2 8 6 2 5 2 4

evernia divaricata (l.) ach. 2 1 1 4 5 8 6 4 1 4

Candelariella xanthostigma (ach.) lettau 10 2 5 1

Parmelia sulcata Taylor 1 3 2 4 2

Pertusaria amara (ach.) Nyl. 1 3

Vulpicida pinastri (Scop.) J.E. Mattsson & J. lai 1 2

Opegrapha sp. 3

Lecanora sp. 1 1

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Tab. 3 - lichen frequencies surveyed with the Bl method on Pinus cembra at lavazè Pass. Tab. 3 - Valori di frequenza lichenica rilevati con il metodo BL su Pinus cembra al Passo Lavazè.

Tab. 4 - lichen frequencies surveyed with the Bl method on Larix decidua at Pomarolo. Tab. 4 - Valori di frequenza lichenica rilevati con il metodo BL su larix decidua a Pomarolo.

laVazè PaSS – PINUS CeMBrA

Survey exposition in degrees (N=0) 330 247 271 20 153 125 115 115 250 159

Tree circumference (cm) 131 120 153 150 168 159 147 138 137 89

Number of lichen species 11 10 13 14 12 15 13 13 14 13

Bl 82 74 78 70 86 85 92 77 71 79

Hypogymnia physodes (l.) Nyl. 10 9 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10

Usnea sp. 10 6 10 10 9 9 10 10 10 9

Bryoria sp. 10 5 10 10 9 10 9 4 10 10

Platismatia glauca (l.) W.l. Culb. & C.F. Culb.& C.F. Culb. 10 10 2 1 9 10 8 10 4 10

Parmeliopsis ambigua (Wulfen) Nyl. 10 10 10 2 5 8 10 8 3 7

Lepraria sp. 10 10 5 10 5 10 10 6 4

Tuckermannopsis chlorophylla (Willd.) halehale 6 3 1 9 8 8 4 1 10

Pseudoevernia furfuracea (l.) zopf 6 5 6 10 5 9 5 4

Parmeliopsis hyperopta (ach.) arnold 3 9 9 6 7 3

evernia divaricata (l.) ach. 4 2 1 2 5 2 7

Amandinea punctata (hoffm.) Coppins & Scheid.Coppins & Scheid. 10 4 6

Tuckneraria laureri (Kremp.) randlane & Thell 6 3 4 2 4

Calicium viride Pers. 8 3 3 2 1 1

Parmelia sulcata Taylor 3 5 2 3 4

non identified crustose 8 1 8

Pertusaria amara (ach.) Nyl. 4 4 7

Vulpicida pinastri (Scop.) J.E. Mattsson & M.J. lai 3 1 2 1 3 3 1

Lecanora sp. 2 3 4

Cladonia coniocraea (Flörke) Spreng. 6 1

Mycoblastus sp. 1 1

PoMarolo – LArIx deCIdUA

Survey exposition in degrees (N= 0) 360 360 360 45 35 30 20 360 18 20

Tree circumference (cm) 235 140 77 192 193 132 67 122 131 177

Number of lichen species 3 5 9 5 4 9 11 6 7 6

Bl 15 30 53 32 25 36 40 34 39 24

Melanelia fuliginosa (duby) Essl. subsp. glabratula 10 10 10 10 9 10 1 10 10 10

Parmelia sulcata Taylor 2 5 8 10 5 8 5 6 3

Lepraria sp. 3 5 10 8 10 9 4

non identified crustose 3 10 3 7

Pertusaria sp. 8 1 1 7 5

Lecanora sp. 8 2 7 4

Physcia tenella (Scop.) dC. 1 4 3 7

Hypogymnia physodes (l.) Nyl. 10 1 1

Candelariella xanthostigma (ach.) lettau 1 1 6

Flavoparmelia caperata (l.) hale 3 3 1

evernia prunastri (l.) ach. 6

Caloplaca sp. 1 5

Usnea sp. 3 1

Hyperphyscia adglutinata (Flörke) h. Mayrhofer & Poelt 3

Parmeliopsis hyperopta (ach.) arnold 2 1

Lecidella elaeochroma (ach.) M.Choisy 2

Pseudoevernia furfuracea (l.) zopf 2

Punctelia borreri (Sm.) Krog 1

Parmelina tiliacea (hoffm.) hale 1

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Tab. 5 - lichen frequencies surveyed with the Bl method on Quercus sp. at Pomarolo. Tab. 5 - Valori di frequenza lichenica rilevati con il metodo BL su Quercus sp. a Pomarolo.

Tab. 6 - Summary data for biodiversity (Bl, No. of taxa), growth on Picea excelsa (PE), Pinus cembra (PC), Larix decidua (ld) and Quercus sp. (Qu).

Tab. 6 - dati riassuntivi di biodiversità lichenica (BL, N. di taxa) su Picea excelsa (Pe), Pinus cembra (PC), larix decidua (Ld) e Quercus sp. (QU).

a substantial difference between the two surveyed areas emerged from the ecological indices (Tab. 7): eutrophication and poleophoby values are lower at la-vazè than Pomarolo; the ph index of tree substratum – naturally acid at lavazè Pass because the survey was done on conifers – shows higher values at Pomarolo even on the conifer L. decidua, indicating a higher bark ph. This agrees with the suggestions of ambrosi et al.

(2002) and Marchetti et al. (2002) according to whom higher precipitations ph at Pomarolo than at lavazè Pass would be caused by the high quantity of coarse particulate matter, originating from calcareous soils, present at low altitudes.

By the use of the linear cover method (Tab. 8), a confirmation of a lower lichen biodiversity at Po-marolo than lavazè Pass is evident. In this second monitoring site, mean linear cover on spruce trunks

Site lavazè Pass Pomarolo

host tree PE PC ld Qu

Ph index 1-2 1-2 2-3 2-3

Eutrophication index 1-2 1-2 2-3 2-3 Poleophoby index 1-2 1-2 1-2 2 Tab. 7 - Ecological indices of lichens surveyed on Picea excelsa (PE), Pinus cembra (PC), Larix decidua (ld) and Quercus sp. (Qu); the prevalent class is in heavy type. Tab. 7 - Indici ecologici dei licheni osservati su Picea excelsa (Pe), Pinus cembra (PC), larix decidua (Ld) e Quercus sp. (QU); la classe prevalente è in grassetto.

is about 60%, while on Pinus cembra is 33%; values decrease drastically at Pomarolo situation: here linear cover reaches a maximum of 10% on oak. Furthermo-re, the pendulous lichen Usnea sp. covers more than 2% of the observed circumferences in lavazè Pass PoMarolo – QUerCUS SP.

Survey exposition in degrees (N= 0) 200 90 10 70 350 30 130 270 45 315

Tree circumference (cm) 103 77 91 76 76 61 56 92 54 58

Number of lichen species 5 4 5 5 4 4 5 4 5 5

Bl 41 24 21 24 20 17 43 22 29 23

Melanelia fuliginosa (duby) Essl. subsp. glabratula 10 9 10 6 10 10 9 8 10 9

Lepraria sp. 8 5 1 10 10 3 5

Parmelia sulcata Taylor 4 7 7 4 6 3 6 5

Candelariella xanthostigma (ach.) lettau 9 2 5 2 10 5

Physcia adscendens (Fr.) h. olivier 2 1 1 1 8 5 3

Flavoparmelia caperata (l.) hale 10 1

Punctelia subrudecta (Nyl.) Krog 9

Parmelina tiliacea (hoffm.) hale 8 1

non identified crustose 3

Hyperphyscia adglutinata (Flörke) h.Mayrhofer & Poelt 2

evernia prunastri (l.) ach. 1

Site lavazè Pass Pomarolo

host tree PE PC ld Qu

average Bl (+Sd) 74+8 79+7 33+10 27+9

Number of lichen taxa (mean) 11 13 7 5

Number of lichen taxa (min) 10 10 4 4

Number of lichen taxa (max) 14 15 11 5

% crustose species 21 17 29 29

% foliose species 51 56 56 69

% fruticose species 28 27 15 2

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and it is one of the five more frequently found taxa by using this method.

In figure 1, percentages of lichen thalli present on different tree species are shown in relation to cardinal exposure. Between west and east there were more li-chens; on Larix decidua, between east and south-west, lichens were totally absent. only on Quercus sp. lichens seem to colonize indifferently each side of the trunk.

Comparing the present lichen biodiversity data with those recorded in 1992, important informations emerged (Fig. 2): significant differences in Bl values

on Picea excelsa as well as on Pinus cembra were not

found in the Norway spruce woodland at lavazè. on the

contrary, lichen biodiversity showed to be significantly different on Quercus sp. (P<0.01) as well as on Larix

decidua (P<0.01) at Pomarolo, indicating a worsening

of environmental conditions. 4. CoNCluSIoNS

Informations obtained from epiphytic lichens allow to formulate, on the whole, a positive judgement for the environmental situation at lavazè Pass: high bio-diversity, presence of species sensitive to atmospheric pollutants, fruticose species abundant; it is noteworthy Tab. 8 - Values (%) of the line cover method.

Tab. 8 - Valori (%) di copertura lichenica rilevati con il metodo lineare.

0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35

N-NE NE-E E-SE SE-S S-SW SW-W W-NW NW-N

Picea excelsa Pinus cembra Larix decidua Quercus sp.

Fig. 1 - Percent presence of lichen thalli (y axis) on the dif-ferent tree species, in relation to cardinal exposure.

Fig. 1 - Valori percentuali di presenza dei talli lichenici (asse y) sulle differenti specie arboree, in relazione all’esposizione.

Fig. 2 - Comparison between Bl values surveyed at lavazè Pass and Pomarolo in 1992 and 2001-2003.

Fig. 2 - Confronto tra valori di BL rilevati a Passo Lavazè e a Pomarolo nel 1992 e nel 2001-2003.

0 20 40 60 80 100 120 Picea abies 1992

Picea abies 2001Pinus cembra 1992Pinus cembra 2001Larix decidua 1992Larix decidua 2003Quercus sp. 1992Quercus sp. 2003

Pomarolo Min-Max 25%-75% Median value Lavazè Pass BT

lavazè Pass lavazè Pass

lichen taxa on Picea excelsa Mean % Cover lichen taxa on Pinus cembra Mean % Cover

Calicium viridae Pers. 42.7 Calicium viridae Pers. 14.2

Hypogymnia physodes 4.9 Platismatia glauca 4.1

Platismatia glauca 4.3 Hypogymnia physodes 3.8

Usnea sp. 2.3 Parmeliopsis ambigua 3.2

Parmeliopsis ambigua 1.2 Usnea sp. 2.6

others 3.7 others 5.3

Total % cover 59.1 Total % cover 33.2

Pomarolo Pomarolo lichen taxa on Larix decidua Mean % Cover lichen taxa on Quercus sp. Mean % Cover Melanelia fuliginosa (duby) Essl. subsp.

glabra-tula 3.4

Melanelia fuliginosa (duby) Essl. subsp.

glabratula 3.6

Parmelia sulcata Taylor 2.7 Lepraria sp. 2.9

Lepraria sp. 1.8 Flavoparmelia caperata (l.) halehale 1.5

others 0.2 others 2.0

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that this situation remained unchanged during the last decade.

The situation observed in the thermophilous pube-scent oak woodland at Pomarolo is different: dominant presence of species less sensitive or more tolerant to atmospheric pollutants, lower biodiversity values, scar-city of fruticose species, higher eutrophication of tree bark. This lead to formulate, on the whole, a judgement of environmental semi-alteration. This indicates that in this site environmental stress, probably air pollu-tion, is present. Furthermore, in this site a significant reduction in lichen biodiversity was found during the last decade.

aCKNoWlEdGEMENTS

This work was supported by a funding from autono-mous Province of Trento (EFoMI project: Ecological Valuation in alpine Forest Ecosystems by Integrated Monitoring).

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