Arthopyrenia betulicola (Old Birch Spots) is narrowly endemic to the high elevations of the southern Appalachian Mountains in the United States where it is restricted to mature hardwood trees in remnant old-growth forests. This habitat has been greatly reduced in size by past human activities and is now threatened by climate change and other factors.
The species is narrowly endemic to the high elevations of the southern Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee.
Demographic studies are needed to assess and monitor populations sizes. Our current knowledge of the species suggests that its populations are stable.
Population Trend: Stable
Arthopyrenia betulicola only grows on the sheltered, dry sides of the trunks of mature individuals of yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis) in old-growth montane northern hardwood forests and spruce-fir forests.
Current threats to Arthopyrenia betulicola include air pollution, fog pollution, habitat degradation (large scale die-off of keystone species in habitat such as hemlock, spruce and fir from invasive species), and shifting habitat due to climate change. Any additional logging of available habitat is a further potential threat.
The known populations of this species are all in national forest, state park, or national park land although additional populations may occur on privately held lands that have not been inventoried. There are many conservation actions that can be taken including controlling the balsam wooly adelgid and hemlock adelgid, educating and training land managers and local botanists to identify the species so we can monitor its health, federally listing the species as endangered in the United States, and improving air quality regulation.
The distribution of this species is well understood as a very narrow endemic. Further research that will aid in the conservation of this species includes population assessments and monitoring, population genetics studies, and ecological studies that incorporate threats to the species. Additionally, a species recovery plan needs to be written.
Harris, R. C./ E. A. Tripp/ J. C. Lendemer 2014: Arthopyrenia betulicola (Arthopyreniaceae, Dothidiomycetes), an unusual new lichenized fungus from high elevations of the southern Appalachian Mountains. - Aliso 31(2): 77-81.
Lendemer, J.C., R.C. Harris and E.A. Tripp. 2013. The lichens and allied fungi of Great Smoky Mountains National Park: an annotated checklist with comprehensive keys. Memoirs of The New York Botanical Garden 104: i-viii, 1-152 [effectively published in print 09 January 2013].