Buellia sharpiana (common name: Evelyn’s Buttons) is an easily recognized species with a small geographic range and specialized ecology, it is threatened by climate change and pollution.
Buellia sharpiana is restricted to several isolated high elevation mountain ridges in the southern Appalachian Mountains along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina in the eastern United States.
Demographic studies are needed to assess and monitor populations sizes. Populations are presumed to be stable at the present time.
Population Trend: Stable
Buellia sharpiana belongs to a unique community of species restricted to high elevation outcrops of the Anakeesta Formation which is a specialized rock type with concentrations of metals. This habitat type is globally small in extent and physiographically isolated.
The primary threats to this species stem from 1) changes in habitat (macro- and micro- scales) resulting from deposition of pollutants and altered ecosystem chemistry from acid rain and fog, and 2) changes in habitat (macro- and micro- scales) that are likely to result from climate change, 3) changes in habitat (macro- and micro- scales) resulting from forest composition change as a result of mortality of hemlock (via hemlock adelgid), fir (via balsam adelgid), and spruce. A further threat is recreation as the species occurs in some of the most heavily visited mountain overlooks of the most visited national park in the United States.
The entire documented range of this species lies within a single large mountain ridge in a national park. However, there are many conservation actions that can be taken including controlling the balsam and hemlock adelgids, 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. However further inventory of the remote and rugged areas within the small area where the species occurs are needed. 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.
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
Lendemer, J. C./ R. C. Harris 2013: Buellia sharpiana (Physciaceae, lichenized Ascomycetes), another new species from the Great Smoky Mountains of eastern North America. - Castanea 78(2): 148-153