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Range shifts of native and invasive trees exacerbate the impact of climate change on epiphyte distribution: The case of lung lichen and black locust in Italy

Abstract : While changing climatic conditions may directly impact species distribution ranges, indirect effects related to altered biotic interactions may exacerbate range shifts. This situation fully applies to epiphytic lichens that are sensitive to climatic factors and strongly depend on substrate occurrence and features for their dispersal and establishment. In this work, we modelled the climatic suitability across Italy under current and future climate of the forest species Lobaria pulmonaria, the lung lichen. Comparatively, we modelled the suitability of its main tree species in Italy, as well as that of the alien tree Robinia pseudoacacia, black locust, whose spread may cause the decline of many forest lichen species. Our results support the view that climate change may cause range shifts of epiphytes by altering the spatial pattern of their climatic suitability (direct effect) and simultaneously causing range shifts of their host-tree species (indirect effect). This phenomenon seems to be emphasized by the invasion of alien trees, as in the case of black locust, that may replace native host tree species. Results indicate that a reduction of the habitat suitability of the lung lichen across Italy should be expected in the face of climate change and that this is coupled with a loss of suitable substrate. This situation seems to be determined by two main processes that act simultaneously: 1) a partial reduction of the spatial overlap between the climatic niche of the lung lichen and that of its host tree species, and 2) the invasion of native woods by black locust. The case of lung lichen and black locust in Italy highlights that epiphytes are prone to both direct and indirect effects of climate change. The invasion of alien trees may have consequences that are still poorly evaluated for epiphytes.
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Submitted on : Saturday, September 19, 2020 - 1:13:00 PM
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Juri Nascimbene, Renato Benesperi, Gabriele Casazza, Alessandro Chiarucci, Paolo Giordani. Range shifts of native and invasive trees exacerbate the impact of climate change on epiphyte distribution: The case of lung lichen and black locust in Italy. Science of the Total Environment, Elsevier, 2020, 735, pp.139537. ⟨10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.139537⟩. ⟨hal-02943403⟩

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