Fissurina alligatorensis (common name: alligator lip lichen) is endemic to the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain of eastern North America where it occurs in low-lying swamp forests that are threatened by sea-level rise and other forces. The core range of the species lies within the Dare Regional Biodiversity Hotspot and is projected to be inundated by sea-level rise by 2100.
The species is endemic to low-lying swamp forests of the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain in eastern North America, from North Carolina south to northern Florida
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
The species occurs on soft-barked hardwood tree species in humid, low-lying swamp forests.
In addition to intense pressure from development and other forces (industry, urbanization), much of the remaining habitat in the region where this species occurs is imperiled by sea-level rise. This includes the core range of the species in the Dare Regional Biodiversity Hotspot as well as additional low-lying sites outside of this area. Additional threats include pollution, road expansion and maintenance, logging and other threats that would further degrade the remaining high quality natural habitats.
There are many conservation actions that can be taken including increasing protected areas in size and preventing further habitat degradation, 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, monitoring changes associated with sea-level rise. Policy and legislation considering biodiversity threatened by sea-level rise is also 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. and R.C. Harris. 2014. Seven new species of Graphidaceae (Lichenized Ascomycetes) from the Coastal Plain of southeastern North America. Phytotaxa.
Lendemer, J.C. and J. Allen. 2014. Lichen Biodiversity under threat from Sea-Level Rise in the Atlantic Coastal Plain. BioScience 64: 923-931.