Diversity and functional traits of lichens in ultramafic areas: a literature-based worldwide analysis integrated by field data at the regional scale
Favero-Longo, Sergio E.
Paukov, Alexander G.
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While higher plant communities found on ultramafics are known to display peculiar characteristics, the distinguishability of any peculiarity in lichen communities is still a matter of contention. Other biotic or abiotic factors, rather than substrate chemistry, may contribute to differences in species composition reported for lichens on adjacent ultramafic and non-ultramafic areas. This work examines the lichen biota of ultramafics, at global and regional scales, with reference to species-specific functional traits. An updated world list of lichens on ultramafic substrates was analyzed to verify potential relationships between diversity and functional traits of lichens in different Köppen–Geiger climate zones. Moreover, a survey of diversity and functional traits in saxicolous communities on ultramafic and non-ultramafic substrates was conducted in Valle d’Aosta (North-West Italy) to verify whether a relationship can be detected between substrate and functional traits that cannot be explained by other environmental factors related to altitude. Analyses (unweighted pair group mean average clustering, canonical correspondence analysis, similarity-difference-replacement simplex approach) of global lichen diversity on ultramafic substrates (2314 reports of 881 taxa from 43 areas) displayed a zonal species distribution in different climate zones rather than an azonal distribution driven by the shared substrate. Accordingly, variations in the frequency of functional attributes reflected reported adaptations to the climate conditions of the different geographic areas. At the regional scale, higher similarity and lower species replacement were detected at each altitude, independent from the substrate, suggesting that altitude-related climate factors prevail over putative substrate–factors in driving community assemblages. In conclusion, data do not reveal peculiarities in lichen diversity or the frequency of functional traits in ultramafic areas