Boreal Felt Lichen Boreal population
Scientific Name: Erioderma pedicellatum
Taxonomy Group: Lichens
Range: Newfoundland and Labrador
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2014
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Special Concern
Image of Boreal Felt Lichen
The Boreal Felt Lichen grows on the branches or trunks of Balsam Fir, Black Spruce, White Spruce, or very occasionally Red Maple trees. This “leafy” lichen is typically 2 to 5 cm in diameter, but it occasionally grows as large as 10 cm. The edges of the body of the lichen are slightly curled up, exposing the whitish underside. Overall the lichen appears either bluish grey (when it is well hydrated) or dark grey to greyish brown (when it is dry). Lichens are unusual creatures. A lichen is not a single organism as most other living things are; rather it is a combination of two organisms that coexist in a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship. Most of the lichen is composed of fungal filaments, but living among the filaments are cells of a blue-green alga.
Distribution and Population
The Boreal Felt Lichen is a globally rare species. It has been documented in Atlantic Canada, Sweden, and Norway, but it is currently believed to exist only in Canada. There are two disjunct populations: the boreal population (the island of Newfoundland) and the Atlantic population (Nova Scotia and New Brunswick). The boreal population of the lichen is known from a total of 94 existing and historical sites scattered across the western and southern regions of the island of Newfoundland. The lichen has disappeared from about 20 of those sites, resulting in an estimated loss of about 12% of the known individuals. Increased search efforts from 1995 to 2000 resulted in the discovery of numerous new occurrences of Boreal Felt Lichen on the island of Newfoundland, and more sites probably remain to be found. It will therefore be difficult to estimate the overall population size until more of the potentially suitable habitat is surveyed.
Typical habitat for the Boreal Felt Lichen is northerly exposed forested slopes where cool and moist conditions prevail throughout most of the year. These mature forest sites are also rich in moisture-loving species such as sphagnum mosses and Cinnamon Fern. In well-lit forests, the Boreal Felt Lichen is found predominantly on tree trunks' whereas in more shaded habitats it is found mostly on branches.
The Boreal Felt Lichen is long-lived, and the average age at which adults reproduce is about 30 years. Growth of a new lichen individual is the result of interaction between the spores of a mature lichen and an alga that is present in the environment. This alga is found in the water sacs of a small liverwort plant that also grows on the surface of the same trees as the lichen, and it has been suggested that new lichen individuals can only develop inside these liverwort plants. The presence of this alga makes the lichen particularly sensitive to acid rain and other pollutants. When the lichen grows on the particularly acidic bark of spruce trees, it has a reduced ability to survive when stressed by acidic air pollutants (compared to when it grows on fir trees). The sensitivity of the Boreal Felt Lichen to airborne pollutants could make it a good indicator species for air quality. The Boreal Felt Lichen has been called the “Panda Bear” of the lichens. International interest in this ancient life form has resulted in an appeal from the International Association of Lichenology to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for the protection of the lichen and its habitat.
The greatest threat to the Boreal Felt Lichen on the island of Newfoundland is likely logging. Even if lichen-bearing trees are not cut down, the removal of neighbouring trees results in changes in microhabitat (such as moisture levels) which can cause the lichens to die. Other threats include air pollution (especially acid rain), pesticides, and possibly climate change.
Federal ProtectionMore information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.
The Boreal Felt Lichen is listed as a vulnerable species under the Newfoundland and Labrador Endangered Species Act.
Provincial and Territorial Protection
Other Protection or Status
The Boreal Felt Lichen is listed as critically endangered on the Red List of Lichenized Fungi of the World (International Committee for the Conservation of Lichens, Salzburg, Austria, 1996).
Recovery Progress and Activities
Summary of Progress to Date Although new boreal felt lichen individuals are found each year, the population continues to decline. Grazing from exotic gastropods may be a new identified threat. Forestry operations and air pollution also continue to be a major threat. Ten of twelve known locations where boreal felt lichen is found are protected from forestry and development through verbal stewardship agreements. Summary of Research/Monitoring Researchers have developed a Boreal Felt Lichen habitat Global Information System modelling program to identify potential new sites. About 80 potential sites have been inventoried every year since 2004, with about 4 new records for boreal felt lichen being found each year. Habitat characteristics are collected at each boreal felt lichen location and used to refine the habitat modelling program. Each known boreal felt lichen individual has been measured for growth and assessed for health each year since 2004. Summary of Recovery Activities A recovery strategy has been developed and has completed the public comment phase. The Nova Scotia government is holding workshops and meetings to develop beneficial forest management practices to protect the Boreal Felt Lichen. Some of the practices will include optimal buffer distances from roadways and forestry operations and landscape level practices that can be implemented to help conserve the species. Educational talks are being held to inform the forest industry, the industries generating pollution, and naturalists about the boreal felt lichen and the reasons for its population decline. Whenever new locations for boreal felt lichen are found, landowners are approached and asked to protect the lichen through verbal stewardship agreements. URLs Conservation and Recovery of Nova Scotia’s Species at Riskhttp://www.speciesatrisk.ca/municipalities/sar_borealfelt.htm
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.
9 record(s) found.
- COSEWIC Status Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Assessments (1 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (2 record(s) found.)
- Management Plans (1 record(s) found.)
- Orders (2 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Annual Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Consultation Documents (1 record(s) found.)
COSEWIC Status Reports
COSEWIC Annual Reports
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