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The influence of climate on the distribution of lichens: a case study in a borderline area (Liguria, NW Italy)

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The purposes of this article are to quantify the relationship between epiphytic lichen distribution and macroclimatic variables in the study area and to provide a case study for evaluating the predictive role of epiphytic lichens as bioclimatic indicators. The study was carried out in the Liguria region (NW-Italy), a small (5432 km2) borderline area, where phytoclimatic features range from the dry Mediterranean to the Alpine in a few kilometers. Epiphytic lichen diversity was sampled using a standardized protocol [Asta et al (2002) In: Nimis et al (eds) Monitoring with lichens: monitoring lichens. Kluwer, Dordrecht]. Abundance of the species in the sampling sites was related to macroclimatic parameters (yearly average temperature and rainfall) and non-parametric multivariate models were calculated to find significative relationships among predictive and response variables. A total of 59 species showed highly significant relation with macroclimatic parameters. Four groups were selected, by means of a cluster analysis, related to four climatic niches (warm-humid, cold-humid, mesothermic-humid, warm-dry). Distributional pattern of the groups in the survey area showed a good correspondence with the bioclimatic units of Liguria region described by Nimis [(2003) Checklist of the Lichens of Italy 3.0. University of Trieste, Dept of Biology. http://www.dbiodbs.univ.trieste.it. Cited 1 Jun 2006]. A significant subset of epiphytic lichen species in the study area have been proved to be efficient bioclimatic indicator and it is supposed to give good results to monitor climatic changes, in a long-term perspective.

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This work has been supported, in part, by Ministero dell’Istruzione, dell’Università e della Ricerca, project F.I.S.R.—M.I.C.E.N.A., 2006.

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Correspondence to Paolo Giordani.

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Giordani, P., Incerti, G. The influence of climate on the distribution of lichens: a case study in a borderline area (Liguria, NW Italy). Plant Ecol 195, 257–272 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11258-007-9324-7

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  • Distributional pattern
  • Epiphytic lichen
  • NPMR
  • Bioclimatic indicators
  • Poikilohydric organisms