Effects of phorophyte determinants on lichen abundance in the cerrado of central Brazil

Mistry, J. and Berardi, A. (2005). Effects of phorophyte determinants on lichen abundance in the cerrado of central Brazil. Plant Ecology, 178(1) pp. 61–76.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11258-004-2493-8


Previous studies have indicated that epiphytic lichens can be good bioindicators of fire history in tropical savannas. A Lichen Fire History (LFH) Key was developed to assess fire history in areas of cerrado (savanna) in central Brazil. However, the effectiveness and reliability of the LFH Key is much influenced by other lichen determinants. The aim of this study, therefore, was to investigate some of these factors in more detail, thereby allowing better estimates of fire history using the LFH Key. Fieldwork was carried out at the Reserva Ecológica do IBGE, 33 km outside Brasilia D.F., in plots of cerrado denso of varying fire history. Vegetation sampling took place in 20 × 20 m-quadrats within which measurements of the lichen abundance, scorch and phorophyte characteristics, including height, girth and tortuosity, were recorded for all the phorophytes encountered. Bark samples were collected from common cerrado phorophytes and tested for pH, conductivity, moisture content and absorbing capacity, texture and nutrient content. The results show that the greater the impact of fire, the lower the influence of other factors, such as bark characteristics, on the lichens. The strongest determinants of lichens in areas subjected to rare fires or protected from fire are bark aluminium content, bark pH, and microclimatic factors. Using the information gathered from the study, phorophyte species are grouped in terms of their reliability for use in the LFH Key. This study highlights the range of factors which can affect lichen abundance in the tropics, and the relationships between them.

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