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Forests 2015, 6(5), 1557-1575; doi:10.3390/f6051557

Lichen Monitoring Delineates Biodiversity on a Great Barrier Reef Coral Cay

1
Wildland Resources Department & Ecology Center, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, USA
2
Geography Planning and Environmental Management (Visiting Fellow), The University of Queensland, Brisbane 4072, Australia
3
Queensland Herbarium, Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Department of Botany (Emeritus), The University of Queensland, Brisbane 4072, Australia
4
Merrill-Cazier Library, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, USA
5
Geography Planning and Environmental Management, The University of Queensland, Brisbane 4072, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Diana F. Tomback
Received: 7 March 2015 / Revised: 28 April 2015 / Accepted: 28 April 2015 / Published: 5 May 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity and Conservation in Forests)
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Abstract

Coral islands around the world are threatened by changing climates. Rising seas, drought, and increased tropical storms are already impacting island ecosystems. We aim to better understand lichen community ecology of coral island forests. We used an epiphytic lichen community survey to gauge Pisonia (Pisonia grandis R.BR.), which dominates forest conditions on Heron Island, Australia. Nine survey plots were sampled for lichen species presence and abundance, all tree diameters and species, GPS location, distance to forest-beach edge, and dominant forest type. Results found only six unique lichens and two lichen associates. A Multi-Response Permutation Procedures (MRPP) test found statistically distinct lichen communities among forest types. The greatest group differences were between interior Pisonia and perimeter forest types. Ordinations were performed to further understand causes for distinctions in lichen communities. Significant explanatory gradients were distance to forest edge, tree density (shading), and Pisonia basal area. Each of these variables was negatively correlated with lichen diversity and abundance, suggesting that interior, successionally advanced, Pisonia forests support fewer lichens. Island edge and presumably younger forests—often those with greater tree diversity and sunlight penetration—supported the highest lichen diversity. Heron Island’s Pisonia-dominated forests support low lichen diversity which mirrors overall biodiversity patterns. Lichen biomonitoring may provide a valuable indicator for assessing island ecosystems for conservation purposes regionally. View Full-Text
Keywords: bioindicators; tropical forest; islands; Pisonia grandis; Casuarina equisetifolia; Australia; ordination; NMS; MRPP; epiphyte bioindicators; tropical forest; islands; Pisonia grandis; Casuarina equisetifolia; Australia; ordination; NMS; MRPP; epiphyte
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Rogers, P.C.; Rogers, R.W.; Hedrich, A.E.; Moss, P.T. Lichen Monitoring Delineates Biodiversity on a Great Barrier Reef Coral Cay. Forests 2015, 6, 1557-1575.

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