Sustainable management of pendulous lichens in continuity forests

This project aims to develop methods for an ecologically and economically sustainable management of lichen-rich continuity forests. The focal organisms are epiphytic pendulous lichens (Alectoria, Bryoria, Usnea), which are critical for the biodiversity and function of continuity forests. The project aims to:

1. examine how partial cutting affect critical processes in the life cycle of lichens, 2. determine the optimal microclimatic conditions for lichens in partially cut stands, and 3. assess whether partial cutting can maintain the abundance and ecological functions of pendulous lichens.

We study lichen response (abundance, mortality, growth, dispersal, establishment) to changes in microclimate in a large-scale partial cutting experiment in old spruce forest. The design is based on experience from partial harvest experiments in Canada. Model species are Alectoria sarmentosa, an old forest indicator, and Usnea longissima, a red-listed flagship species. Treatments include different levels of canopy removal and a control plots. Study sites are located in Vindelns experimental forests. We will assess long-term effects of partial cutting by sampling lichens in old experimental plots in Vilhelmina Model Forest. Results will be of direct application for national and regional conservation authorities, forest managers and reindeer husbandry.

Project members
Per-Anders Esseen
Kristin Palmqvist
Mikaell Ottosson Löfvenius, SLU
Peder Wikström, SLU

International partners
Darwyn Coxson and S.K. Stevenson
University of Northern British Columbia, Canada

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Research area & members

Terrestrial ecologyEsseen Per-Anders