Co-dominant anatomically disparate lichens converge in hydrological functional traits

Joseph D. Ure, Daniel E. Stanton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Epiphytic lichens play a key hydrological role in ecosystems by intercepting and retaining water. These attributes can be characterized at an individual thallus scale by considering the retention and loss rates of water, themselves influenced by growth form and anatomy. We compared the hydrological attributes (water-holding capacity and standard drying rate) of two common northern temperate-boreal lichen genera, Evernia and Usnea, which differ greatly in internal anatomy. Despite conspicuous morphological and anatomical differences between the taxa that were hypothesized to affect thallus-water dynamics, their hydrological traits were found to be remarkably similar. This suggests either limited influence of internal anatomy on these ecologically relevant traits or convergence in hydrological attributes in co-occurring taxa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-470
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this work was provided by the University of Minnesota’s UROP program. Many thanks are due to Stephen Sebestyen, Randy Kolka and Deacon Kyllander at Marcell Experimental Forest for logistical support for fieldwork; to Courtney Kerns for assistance in the field despite difficult winter conditions and to Yngvar Gauslaa and an anonymous reviewer for valuable comments and insights.

Publisher Copyright:
©2019 by The American Bryological and Lichenological Society, Inc.


  • Macrolichen
  • epiphyte
  • fruticose lichen
  • specific thallus mass
  • water-holding capacity


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