Special Issue "Lichen Functional Traits and Ecosystem Functions"

A special issue of Microorganisms (ISSN 2076-2607). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant Microbe Interactions".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Paolo Giordani
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Guest Editor
Università degli Studi di Genova, Genoa, Italy
Interests: lichen ecology; biology
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Juri Nascimbene
Website
Guest Editor
Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna, Bologna, Italy
Interests: diversity patterns along wide environmental gradients and the impact of local and climatic factors on plant and lichen diversity in forest, alpine and agro-ecosystems
Prof. Dr. Renato Benesperi
Website
Guest Editor
Università degli Studi di Firenze, Florence, Italy
Interests: conservation biology; ecology; invasive species; conservation; biodiversity; species diversity; ecology and evolution; wildlife conservation; climate change; ecosystem ecology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Functional traits and ecosystem functions have received increasing consideration in the last decade. Scientists have recognized them as critical elements for elucidating the mechanisms behind the dynamics of biota. Functional traits are characteristics of the species that mediate their response to environmental conditions and determine ecosystem functioning that may result in the provision of several ecosystem services.

Lichens are symbiotic associations between a heterotrophic fungus (the mycobiont) and one or more photosynthetic partners (the photobiont). Despite their modest size, lichens may be essential in providing specific ecosystem functions. These organisms are abundant globally, and represent the dominant autotrophs in several ecosystems, such as tundra, deserts, or high-elevation landscapes. Although the role of lichens in ecosystems is becoming increasingly recognized, knowledge of their functional performance has only been recently expanding.

In this Special Issue of Microorganisms, entitled “Lichen Functional Traits and Ecosystem Functions”, we aim to increase knowledge on the abovementioned topics through dissemination of the latest research in these areas. We encourage researchers to send their research papers or reviews dealing with numerous aspects of the investigation of lichen functional traits. Some of the potential topics include:

  • Genetic, physiological, or ecological background of lichen traits.
  • Characterization and assessment of ecosystem functions afforded by lichen communities;
  • Applicative studies using lichen functional traits for evaluating the effects of anthropogenic disturbance;
  • Description of new methods for assessing lichen functional traits;
  • Intraspecific variations of lichen functional traits;
  • Interactions between lichens and other organisms that are mediated by functional traits.

Prof. Dr. Paolo Giordani
Prof. Dr. Juri Nascimbene
Prof. Dr. Renato Benesperi
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Microorganisms is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Direct and Indirect Effects of Management Intensity and Environmental Factors on the Functional Diversity of Lichens in Central European Forests
Microorganisms 2021, 9(2), 463; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9020463 (registering DOI) - 23 Feb 2021
Abstract
Using 642 forest plots from three regions in Germany, we analyzed the direct and indirect effects of forest management intensity and of environmental variables on lichen functional diversity (FDis). Environmental stand variables were affected by management intensity and acted as an environmental filter: [...] Read more.
Using 642 forest plots from three regions in Germany, we analyzed the direct and indirect effects of forest management intensity and of environmental variables on lichen functional diversity (FDis). Environmental stand variables were affected by management intensity and acted as an environmental filter: summing direct and indirect effects resulted in a negative total effect of conifer cover on FDis, and a positive total effect of deadwood cover and standing tree biomass. Management intensity had a direct positive effect on FDis, which was compensated by an indirect negative effect via reduced standing tree biomass and lichen species richness, resulting in a negative total effect on FDis and the FDis of adaptation-related traits (FDisAd). This indicates environmental filtering of management and stronger niche partitioning at a lower intensity. In contrast, management intensity had a positive total effect on the FDis of reproduction-, dispersal- and establishment-related traits (FDisRe), mainly because of the direct negative effect of species richness, indicating functional over-redundancy, i.e., most species cluster into a few over-represented functional entities. Our findings have important implications for forest management: high lichen functional diversity can be conserved by promoting old, site-typical deciduous forests with a high richness of woody species and large deadwood quantity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Lichen Functional Traits and Ecosystem Functions)
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Open AccessArticle
Morphological and Chemical Traits of Cladonia Respond to Multiple Environmental Factors in Acidic Dry Grasslands
Microorganisms 2021, 9(2), 453; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9020453 (registering DOI) - 22 Feb 2021
Abstract
Terricolous lichen communities in lowlands occur especially in open dry habitats. Such communities are often dominated by species of the genus Cladonia, which are very variable in morphology, reproduction strategies, and secondary metabolites. In this work, we investigated traits-environment relationships considering vegetation [...] Read more.
Terricolous lichen communities in lowlands occur especially in open dry habitats. Such communities are often dominated by species of the genus Cladonia, which are very variable in morphology, reproduction strategies, and secondary metabolites. In this work, we investigated traits-environment relationships considering vegetation dynamics, substrate pH, disturbance, and climate. A total of 122 plots were surveyed in 41 acidic dry grasslands in the western Po Plain (Northern Italy). Relationships between Cladonia traits and environmental variables were investigated by means of a model-based Fourth Corner Analysis. Thallus morphology and metabolites responded to vegetation dynamics, substrate pH, disturbance, and climate, whereas reproduction strategies responded only to vegetation dynamics. Traits’ correlations with vegetation dynamics elucidate their colonization patterns in open dry habitats or suggest biotic interactions with bryophytes and vascular plants. In addition, correlations between metabolites and environmental factors support interpretations of their ecological roles. Our results also stress the importance of studying traits’ relationships with climatic factors as an alert towards lichen reactions to climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Lichen Functional Traits and Ecosystem Functions)
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Open AccessArticle
Contrasting Environmental Drivers Determine Biodiversity Patterns in Epiphytic Lichen Communities along a European Gradient
Microorganisms 2020, 8(12), 1913; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms8121913 - 01 Dec 2020
Abstract
Assessing the ecological impacts of environmental change on biological communities requires knowledge of the factors driving the spatial patterns of the three diversity facets along extensive environmental gradients. We quantified the taxonomic (TD), functional (FD), and phylogenetic diversity (PD) of lichen epiphytic communities [...] Read more.
Assessing the ecological impacts of environmental change on biological communities requires knowledge of the factors driving the spatial patterns of the three diversity facets along extensive environmental gradients. We quantified the taxonomic (TD), functional (FD), and phylogenetic diversity (PD) of lichen epiphytic communities in 23 beech forests along Europe to examine their response to environmental variation (climate, habitat quality, spatial predictors) at a continental geographic scale. We selected six traits related to the climatic conditions in forest ecosystems, the water-use strategy and the nutrient uptake, and we built a phylogenetic tree based on four molecular markers. FD and climate determined TD and PD, with spatial variables also affecting PD. The three diversity facets were primarily shaped by distinct critical predictors, with the temperature diurnal range affecting FD and PD, and precipitation of the wettest month determining TD. Our results emphasize the value of FD for explaining part of TD and PD variation in lichen communities at a broad geographic scale, while highlighting that these diversity facets provide complementary information about the communities’ response under changing environmental conditions. Furthermore, traits such as growth form, photobiont type, and reproductive strategy mediated the response of lichen communities to abiotic factors emerging as useful indicators of macroclimatic variations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Lichen Functional Traits and Ecosystem Functions)
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