Canopy Gaps, Forest Floor Microclimate, and Succession in Cladonia / Cladina Ground Cover

Project Overview
Research Core Areas: 
Project Abstract: 
The restriction of Cladonia / Cladina distribution to gaps in the forest canopy and the concomitant change in ground cover over forest succession has been taken to reflect the "photophilous" requirements of terricolous lichens for light. However, previous work at UMBS (1977-1984) found that: (a) both abundance and growth rates were greater at edges (particularly the more shaded southern edges) of openings; (b) slower growing species, with lower SA/M ratios were displaced to the more xeric center of openings, where throughfall and nighttime longwave emmitance with attending dew condensation (measured and manipulated) were mitigating factors; (c) as demonstrated by transplant manipulations, the ultimately determinative factor restricting all species from closed canopy habitats was not light or aspects of microclimate, but leaffall accumulation. Over the last four decades, canopy closure, manifold microclimate variables, and lichen species distribution, abundance, and growth rates have continued to be assessed along two permanent, 80m transects that traverse a canopy gradient. 2019 will be the culminating assessment, with canopy gaps now virtually closed.
Investigator Info
Funding agency: 
Westmont College
Years research project active: 
2019