|Cáceres, M; Lücking, R; Rambold, G: Phorophyte specificity and environmental parameters as determinants for species composition, richness and area cover in corticolous crustose lichen communities in the Atlantic rainforest of northeastern Brazil, Mycological Progress, 6(3), 117–136 (2007)|
A transect of 47 mature trees was studied within an Atlantic rain-forest plot in northeastern Brazil to determinate effects of phorophyte specificity and environmental parameters vs. stochasticity on the structure of corticolous, crustose microlichen communities. A total of 150 lichen species was found, most being rare to extremely rare. Multivariate analysis of sample plots indicated subtle phorophyte preferences among certain lichen species, corresponding to differences in bark pH, degree of bark shedding, density and size of bark lenticels, and presence of milk sap. Individual and multiple regressions revealed correlations between lichen species richness; respectively, area cover and bark pH (negative); density and size of bark lenticels (negative); degree of bark shedding (negative); presence of milk sap (positive); and diffuse site factor (positive). No strongly delimited lichen communities were detected, but cluster analysis revealed three main groups and six subgroups with slightly different lichen species composition, each one with characteristic indicator species but with highly variable overall species composition. Beta diversity was high among samples and lacked spatial structure. However, beta diversity was significantly lower among samples belonging to the same tree species, independent of their spatial arrangement. It was concluded that community formation in tropical rain-forest understory lichens subtly correlates with two main environmental factor complexes-phorophyte bark characteristics and microclimate-but is to a large extent determined by the stochastic effects of species dispersal, especially of rare species.