In 1995, we installed surface-sterilized, rough-barked and smooth-barked tree branches in clearcuts, young forests, and old growth. Half of the experimental branches were inoculated with propagules of the epiphytic cyanolichen, Lobaria oregana. In 1997, we concluded that L. oregana was associated with old-growth Douglas-fir forests because of dispersal limitation; addition of L. oregana propagules resulted in a marked increase in establishment rates. In 1999, we revisited the experiment to determine whether other epiphytes had colonized the tree branches. We also checked to see if the 1997 results of the experiment persisted. A total of 26 epiphyte genera (nine bryophytes and 17 lichens) had colonized the branches. Lichen colonization was generally fastest in clearcuts. Colonization by alectorioid lichens was rapid in both clearcuts and old growth but slow in young forests. In contrast, bryophyte colonization was relatively rapid in all age classes. Epiphyte colonization was generally more rapid on smooth bark than on rough bark, although Cladonia was more frequent on rough-barked branches. Bryophytes, cyanolichens, and Sphaerophorus globosus were more frequent on inoculated branches than on control branches, implying that the L. oregana propagule mixture used in 1995 was contaminated with other epiphytes. Like L. oregana, these species may also be dispersal-limited. The number of established L. oregana thalli in clearcuts and young stands decreased from 1997 to 1999, but the number of thalli remained relatively stable in old growth. After four years, established L. oregana thalli were larger in clearcuts than in either young stands or old growth. Overall, the fourth-year results of our experiment confirm the importance of dispersal limitation as the cause of old-growth association in L. oregana in western Oregon.
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Vol. 103 • No. 4