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Lichen Responses to Disturbance: Clues for Biomonitoring Land-use Effects on Riparian Andean Ecosystems

1
Sección de Ecología y Sistemática, Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja, San Cayetano s/n, 1101608 Loja, Ecuador
2
Laboratorio de Ecología Tropical y Servicios Ecosistémicos (EcoSs-Lab), Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja, San Cayetano s/n, 1101608 Loja, Ecuador
3
Maestría en Biología de la Conservación y Ecología Tropical, Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja, San Cayetano s/n, 1101608 Loja, Ecuador
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2019, 11(5), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11050073
Received: 4 April 2019 / Revised: 23 April 2019 / Accepted: 27 April 2019 / Published: 5 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Lichen Diversity and Biomonitoring)
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Abstract

The transformation of natural ecosystems due to anthropogenic land use is considered one of the main causes of biodiversity loss. Lichens, due to their poikilohydric nature, are very sensitive to natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Therefore, lichen communities have been widely used as bioindicators of climatic and environmental changes. In this study, we evaluated how the species richness and community composition of epiphytic lichens respond to land-use intensity in riparian ecosystems of the Andes in southern Ecuador. Additionally, we evaluate how the richness of six functional traits (photobiont type, growth form, and reproductive strategy) changed across the different land-use intensity. We selected 10 trees in twelve sites for a total de 120 trees, equally divided into four riparian land-use intensities (forest, forest-pasture, pasture and urban). We recorded a total of 140 lichen species. Species richness was highest in the forest sites and decreased towards more anthropogenic land uses. Lichen community composition responded to land-use intensity, and was explained by microclimate variables (e.g., precipitation, percentage forested area) and distance to the forest. Richness of functional traits of lichens also differed significantly among the four land-use intensity and decreased from forests to urban land-use. Taxonomic diversity and functional traits can be effectively applied as bioindicators to assess and monitor the effects of land-use changes in the riparian ecosystems of tropical montane regions. View Full-Text
Keywords: epiphyte communities; functional traits; bioindicators; riparian land-use; tropical Andes epiphyte communities; functional traits; bioindicators; riparian land-use; tropical Andes
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Chuquimarca, L.; Gaona, F.P.; Iñiguez-Armijos, C.; Benítez, Á. Lichen Responses to Disturbance: Clues for Biomonitoring Land-use Effects on Riparian Andean Ecosystems. Diversity 2019, 11, 73.

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