Research Article

Ecology of Foliicolous Lichens at the ‘Botarrama’ Trail (Costa Rica), a Neotropical Rainforest. IV. Species Associations, their Salient Features and Their Dependence on Environmental Variables

Robert Lückinga1

a1 Lehrstuhl für Pflanzensystematik, Universität Bayreuth, D-95447 Bayreuth, Germany.


A community ecology approach using an association of species test and a principal component analysis resulted in the recognition of two major and two minor foliicolous lichen communities in a neotropical rainforest. The major communities arc governed by microclimatic factors, one characteristic of the shady understorcy and the other confined to light gaps. The minor communities are due to subtle phorophyte preferences towards palm and dicot leaves. The shady understorey community is dominated by the families Anhoniaceae, Opegraphaceae, Tnchoihdiaceae and Pilocarpaceae, which predominantly have Phycepeltis as their phycobiont, thin thalli, abundant sexual reproduction, small ascospores produced in high numbers, and pyenidial conidiomata. The light-gap community is mainly composed of the families Gomphillaceae and Ectolechiaceae, with Trebouxia as their phycobiont, thickly crystalline or whitish, dispersed thalli, frequent asexual reproduction, large ascospores produced in low numbers, and specialized campylidia and hyphophores as conidiomata. Phycobiont, thallus structure, and the mode of reproduction are considered as adaptations to different microsites, whereas the shape and size of ascospores and conidia seem to be of less importance. The foliicolous lichen communities reflect the spatial and temporal structure of the forest, in particular the continuity of the shady understorey in comparison to the discontinuity of the light gaps. While the formation of the shady understorey community follows more deterministic patterns, the light-gap community exhibits high stochasticity.