In increasingly fragmented landscapes tree plantations are thought to help maintain forest continuity among native patches. Epiphytic lichens are one of the most sensitive groups to change in forest conditions, but the effects of this management practice are still poorly studied in temperate regions. In this study we compared epiphytic lichen diversity among small patches of old, native oaks (Quercus pyrenaica) and young, planted chestnuts (Castanea sativa) and Monterey pines (Pinus radiata) in a major forestry area in northwestern Spain. Our results showed that the richness of epiphytic lichens was higher in C. sativa than Q. pyrenaica, but that the latter had more lichen species typical of mature forests, including macrocyanolichens. Overall, C. sativa plantations had more species typical of well-lit, dry environments than Q. pyrenaica or P. radiata, which is likely caused by the natural architecture of each tree species, and to differences in forest age and management. At the tree level, Q. pyrenaica had the highest total richness including all species of conservation interest, which were exclusively found on this species. On a corollary, this study shows that Q. pyrenaica forests had the best preserved epiphytic lichen communities but with marked signs of forest fragmentation. In this fragmented landscape, young plantations of C. sativa and P. radiata seem to be of limited help for providing connectivity to epiphytic lichens among old native forest patches.
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Vol. 120 • No. 2