A First Assessment of Lichen Diversity for One of North America’s ‘Biodiversity Hotspots’ in the Southern Appalachians of Virginia

Published:

March 2010

Author

Brendan P. Hodkinson

Additional Authors

ABSTRACT Although the Appalachian Mountains of southwestern Virginia, United States, are known to represent a major ‘hotspot’ of biodiversity for North America, no significant survey of overall lichen diversity has been conducted in the region thus far. Presented here is a list of 221 distinct taxa of lichens, lichenicolous fungi, and ‘lichen allies’ collected during the 2008 Hugo L. Blomquist Bryological and Lichenological Foray in the mountains of southwestern Virginia. Collections were made from diverse habitats, primarily in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area (MRNRA), and yielded 41 potential state records. Particularly noteworthy collections include: Sphaerellothecium coniodes (a lichenicolous fungus that was not previously known to exist in North America), Hypotrachyna lividescens (a primarily neotropical macrolichen that has not previously been reported from North America), Pycnora praestabilis (a lignicolous crust not previously reported from any other location in eastern North America), Heterodermia erecta (a foliose lichen previously known in the world only from a single small region of Georgia/North Carolina), and Psilolechia clavulifera (a crustose lichen taxon previously reported from only one other location in eastern North America). The sheer diversity of lichens, along with the number of rare and/or potentially endangered taxa, highlights the need for continued preservation efforts in MRNRA and the southern Appalachian Mountains in general.

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