Lichen Community Development Along a Volcanic Disturbance Gradient at Mount St. Helens

  • Peter R. Nelson
  • Bruce McCune
  • Tim Wheeler
  • Linda H. Geiser
  • Charles M. Crisafulli


Lichens are symbiotic composite organisms made of a fungus (ascomycete or rarely basidiomycete), plus an alga or a cyanobacterium, or occasionally all three. They can be important components of post-eruption vegetation recovery because of their ability to fix nitrogen, which is absent or at low levels in new volcanic deposits. Patterns of macrolichen species richness, abundance, and community composition are described and interpreted for different volcanic disturbances created by the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens and compared to nearby control areas not affected by the eruption. We found variable responses of different groups of lichens to a variety of volcanic disturbances produced by a single eruption.


Volcanic disturbance Lichen Fungi Algae Community composition Succession Colonization Survival Mount St. Helens Disturbance gradient 



This work was the outcome of a foray convened by the Northwest Lichenologist Guild and hosted by the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, and the Mount St. Helens Institute. Support for CMC was provided by the US Forest Service-Pacific Northwest Research Station and the US National Science Foundation LTREB Program (DEB-0614538).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter R. Nelson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bruce McCune
    • 1
  • Tim Wheeler
    • 3
  • Linda H. Geiser
    • 4
    • 5
  • Charles M. Crisafulli
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Botany and Plant PathologyOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  2. 2.Arts and Sciences DivisionUniversity of Maine-Fort KentFort KentUSA
  3. 3.6606 Jocko Canyon RoadArleeUSA
  4. 4.U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest RegionAir Resources Management ProgramCorvallisUSA
  5. 5.U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest ServiceWater Fish Wildlife and Rare PlantsWashington, DCUSA
  6. 6.U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research StationMount St. Helens National Volcanic MonumentAmboyUSA

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