Niche characteristics of Cladonia lichens associated with geothermal vents in Japan

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Department of Biological Sciences


To characterize the niche preferences of Cladonia species associated with geothermal areas, we sampled ten thermal areas in Japan. It appears from the current study and related studies that some members of the Cladonia genus can have a wide tolerance for both soil temperature and pH conditions. Cladonia mitis is the most abundant Cladonia and occurs throughout most of the vent system. Cladonia theiophila occurs most frequently at a soil pH of less than 3.5, but occurs mostly at lower soil surface temperatures (below 29°C). Cladonia floerkeana is very restricted in its distribution and is most abundant where the root zone temperature (15 cm) is above 70°C, the surface temperature is above 40°C, and the pH is 5-5.5. Tolerances to low pH, high soil temperatures, and low to moderate humidity permit Cladonia species to grow where vascular plants and even mosses cannot grow and thus they avoid the competition such plants would provide to these slow-growing organisms.

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© 1990 Ecological Society of Japan. Publisher’s version of record:

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Ecological Research