Species Profile

Blue Felt Lichen

Scientific Name: Degelia plumbea
Taxonomy Group: Lichens
Range: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2010
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Special Concern


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Quick Links: | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Blue Felt Lichen

Description

The Blue Felt Lichen, Degelia plumbea is a large, blue-grey, leafy lichen that has longitudinal ridges and crescent-shaped curves which often give it a scallop-like shape. A prominent beard-like fungal mat (hypothallus) that is usually blue-black protrudes beyond the margin of the thallus which may exceed ten centimeters in diameter. Vegetative propagules are lacking. Sexual reproductive structures are usually present and numerous. The fruit bodies are red-brown but often darken with age. The spore sacs (asci) within the fruit body contain 8 non-septate, colourless, oval ascospores. The photosynthetic component of this lichen is Nostoc, the most common cyanobacterial partner found in lichens. (Updated 2017/08/11)

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Distribution and Population

The Blue Felt Lichen, like the Boreal Felt Lichen, Erioderma pedicellatum, is one of the lichens that occurs in both eastern North America and western Europe. In North America the Blue Felt Lichen is restricted to the northeast being found in three Canadian three provinces New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the island of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Blue Felt Lichen is relatively common in Nova Scotia, uncommon in Newfoundland, rare in New Brunswick. In the USA it is known from just two occurrences in Maine. (Updated 2017/08/11)

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Habitat

The Blue Felt Lichenis usually found on the trunks ofold broad-leaved trees growing in moist habitats or close to stream and lake margins. In Canada and northwestern Europe, this lichenoccurs incoastal suboceanic areas but also some distance inland in damp valleys. It prefers cool, humid woodlands that may be mixed coniferous/hardwood or dominated by deciduous trees. The Blue Felt Lichen seems to prefer mature deciduous trees, particularly maple, ash and yellow birch. In New Brunswick at two of the three known occurrences, its substratum is eastern cedar and in Newfoundland it grows mainly on yellow birch but very occasionally occurs also on white spruce. . At its northerly limit of distribution in Nova Scotia, the Blue Felt Lichen has once been found on moss-covered rocks. (Updated 2017/08/11)

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Biology

The Blue Felt Lichenis part of a group of lichens known as cyanolichens. Such lichens consist of a fungal partner and a cyanobacterium, which photosynthesizes and fixes atmospheric nitrogen providing the necessary carbohydrates and amino acids for growth. The Blue Felt Lichen reproduces via fruit bodies from which spores are shot into the air. If these land on a suitable substratum and encounter a compatible cyanobacterium of the genus Nostoc then a new lichen becomes established. (Updated 2017/08/11)

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Threats

The Blue Felt Lichen prefers locations where there is a high humidity. Most lumber and pulp companies concentrate on forests dominated by fir, spruce and pine and avoid swampy conditions. Furthermore, riparian boundary regulations have also helped maintain Blue Felt Lichen habitat. However, any loss of forest continuity through logging increases light levels and decreases humidity in its habitat. This has and will affect the persistence of this lichen in Nova Scotia. The habitat and substrate preferences of the Blue Felt Lichen have generally kept it from being directly harvested, Land development for housing and cottages, plus policy changes in the forest industry leading to increased biomass may also open forests that are Blue Felt Lichen habitats up to harvest. While the need for landscape-level measures is acknowledged, there are currently no accepted strategies to sustain the lichen communities that include the Blue Felt Lichen. In Nova Scotia there are more than 80 current occurrences of the Blue Felt Lichen and for the reasons given above, it is unlikely to disappear from counties where it presently occurs. However, the number of occurrences may well decline over the next decade if forest removal continues at its current rate. Microclimate changes on the edge of cut areas are likely to affect adversely this lichen. The Blue Felt Lichen is most frequently found on deciduous trees in red maple swales and forestry activities in or around these will likely increase with the new focus on the use of forest biomass for electricity generation. To date maple swales have not been mapped in the province or considered for protection. The Blue Felt Lichen is much rarer in New Brunswick and Newfoundland. In the latter province, some occurrences are in blocks approved, until recently, for commercial harvesting. The Newfoundland harvest of mature hardwood for firewood, and browsing by the large populations of moose will limit the future availability of old yellow birch, the main host for this lichen. Like other cyanolichens, the Blue Felt Lichen, is very sensitive to air pollution and acid rain. Although acidifying pollutants in eastern North America are predicted to decline over the next 12 years, planned industrial developments in Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia may locally increase pollutant levels in some areas. Such developments may pose a threat to existing populations of this lichen. A further threat is changing climate. Preliminary analyses of fog frequency along the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia and the Avalon Peninsula of southeastern Newfoundland suggest that a significant decline has occurred over the past several decades. The Blue Felt Lichen is a particularly sensitive to changes in moisture regimes so that declines in fog frequency could negatively affect it. (Updated 2017/08/11)

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Protection

Federal Protection

More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

8 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Blue Felt Lichen Degelia plumbea in Canada (2011)

    The Blue Felt Lichen, Degelia plumbea is a large, blue-grey, leafy lichen that has longitudinal ridges and crescent-shaped curves which often give it a scallop-like shape. A prominent beard-like fungal mat (hypothallus) that is usually blue-black protrudes beyond the margin of the thallus, which may exceed 10 centimetres in diameter. Vegetative propagules are lacking. Sexual reproductive structures are usually present and numerous. The fruit bodies are red-brown but often darken with age. The spore sacs (asci) within the fruit body contain 8 non-septate, colourless, oval ascospores. The photosynthetic component of this lichen is Nostoc, the most common cyanobacterial partner found in lichens.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Blue Felt Lichen (2011)

    Within Canada, this lichen occurs only in the Atlantic region. It is very rare in New Brunswick, uncommon in Newfoundland, but more frequent in Nova Scotia. It grows as an epiphyte, predominately on hardwoods in woodlands and is vulnerable to disturbance that leads to a reduction in habitat humidity. The species is also very sensitive to acid rain. Forest harvesting is a threat to the species through direct removal or through the creation of an edge effect, leading to reduced humidity within the stand. In Newfoundland, the browsing of the lichen’s host tree by a high density of moose is also of concern. Air pollution is a threat, especially in New Brunswick, but also in Nova Scotia.

Action Plans

  • Multi-species Action Plan for Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site of Canada (2017)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site of Canada applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site (KNP and NHS), including Kejimkujik National Park Seaside. The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species at Risk Act (SARA (s.47)) for species requiring an action plan and that regularly occur within these sites. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur at KNP and NHS.
  • Multi-species Action Plan for Terra Nova National Park of Canada and the National Historic Sites of Canada in Eastern Newfoundland (2017)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Terra Nova National Park of Canada and the National Historic Sites of Canada in Eastern Newfoundland applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of Terra Nova National Park of Canada (TNNP) as well as the national historic sites (NHS) of Canada within eastern Newfoundland, including Ryan Premises, Hawthorne Cottage, Castle Hill, Signal Hill, and Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Sites of Canada. The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species At Risk Act (SARA s.47) for species requiring an action plan and that regularly occur in these sites. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur within TNNP and in the national historic sites in the region.

Orders

  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (2016)

    His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, acknowledges receipt, on the making of this Order, of assessments conducted under subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) with respect to the species set out in the annexed schedule.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (2017)

    Biodiversity is rapidly declining worldwide as species become extinct. Today’s extinction rate is estimated to be between 1 000 and 10 000 times higher than the natural rate. Biodiversity is positively related to ecosystem productivity, health and resiliency (i.e. the ability of an ecosystem to respond to changes or disturbances), and, given the interdependency of species, a loss of biodiversity can lead to decreases in ecosystem function and services (e.g. natural processes such as pest control, pollination, coastal wave attenuation, temperature regulation and carbon fixing). These services are important to the health of Canadians, and also have important ties to Canada’s economy. Small changes within an ecosystem resulting in the loss of individuals and species can therefore result in adverse, irreversible and broad-ranging effects. List of Wildlife Species at Risk (referral back to COSEWIC) Order

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2010 - 2011 (2011)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings during the past year assessing the status or reviewing the classification of a total of 92 wildlife species.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species – December 2011 (2011)

    As part of its strategy for protecting wildlife species at risk, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Please submit your comments by February 8, 2012 for species undergoing normal consultations and by November 8, 2012 for species undergoing extended consultations.