PRELIMINARY ASSESSMENT FROM NEW YORK WORKSHOP
Proposed Authors: James Lendemer, Jessica Allen, Troy McMullin, Christoph Scheidegger
Common Name: Carolina Beach Dots
Current Scientific Name: Phaeographis oricola Lendemer & R.C. Harris
Proposed Status: B1,2a,bii,iii
EOO: 2,203.944 km2
AOO: 28.000 km2
# of Documented populations: 10 (all presumed extant)
Assessment Synopsis. – Phaeographis oricola is a crustose lichen that occurs on the bark of hardwood trees and shrubs in remnant mature maritime forests in the Carolinian Barrier Islands of the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain of eastern North America. Though recently described, populations have been documented for more than a decade. Suitable habitat for this species is severely fragmented and has been degraded by anthropogenic forces. The threats to it stem from continued degradation and fragmentation of suitable habitat, as well as projected impacts from sea-level rise.
Distinguishing Traits. – This is a very distinctive crustose lichen that forms extensive whitish colonies on the bark of hardwood trees and shrubs and can be recognized by its large, circular, erumpent apothecia with one large, brown, muriform spore in each ascus.
Distribution and Ecology. – Phaeographis oricola was first located during a Tuckerman Workshop in 2004 in North Carolina, and a population was documented as early as 2001. When first encountered it was confused with two superficially similar species (Lendemer & Yahr 2004; Lendemer & Knudsen 2008) and the taxonomy was only recently clarified (Lendemer & Harris 2014). The superficially similar species with which P. oricola could be confused occur in Central America and Australasia, not in North America.
The species is narrowly restricted to the Carolinian Barrier Islands of the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain of eastern North Carolina in eastern North America. It occurs on the bark of hardwood trees and shrubs (known porophytes include Carpinus, Ilex vomitoria, I. opaca, Myrica, Persea and Quercus virginiana) in mature maritime forests, a rare and restricted habitat type that only develops on the oldest, most stable dunes of barrier islands. Despite extensive fieldwork over a period spanning 20+ years by multiple experts (e.g., Florida: W.R. Buck, R. Commons, R.C. Harris, F.&J. Seavey; Georgia: S.Q. Beeching, M.F. Hodges, J.C. Lendemer; North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia: J.L. Allen, W.R. Buck, R.C. Harris, J.C. Lendemer) the species has not been located outside of its current range.
Status of Populations – All known populations are located within existing protected areas, including national seashores, state parks, state natural areas, and national estuarine research reserves.
Protected Status. – None.
Threats. – Suitable habitats throughout the barrier islands of the Coastal Plain of the southeastern United States have been substantially impacted and fragmented by centuries of habitat loss and degradation, particularly residential/recreational development post-1970. Remaining suitable habitats are for the most part highly fragmented. Trends of habitat loss and degradation are continuing at present and projected to increase in the future (Brown et al. 2005, Hall & Schafale 1999, Napton et al. 2010, Ricketts et al. 1999, Terando et al. 2014). These trends will be further exacerbated by climate change and sea-level rise, which will likely impact locations by 2100 (Lendemer & Allen 2014, Sallenger et al. 2012)
Explanation of Proposed Rank. – This species merits ranking as Endangered: B1,2a,bii,iii based on the AOO (28.000 km2), EOO (2,203.944 km2), number of locations (n = 5), and documented declines in available habitat (the total available land for development in within the extent of occurrence is 1468.9360 km2, 105.12519 km2 was developed in 1991 and 282.73362 km2 was developed in 2011, inferring a minimum change in developed land area from 7% to 20% in a span of twenty years with mature maritime forest representing a disproportionate amount of that land that was developed).
Conservation Recommendations. – In addition to formal listing as an endangered species, conservation of the species would be effected by enhancing protected status of the existing locations. Given the small number of locations, and the threats posed by climate change and sea-level rise, monitoring is also warranted.
Brown D. G., K. M. Johnson, T. R. Loveland & D. M. Theobald. 2005. Rural Land-Use Trends in the Conterminous United States, 1950-2000. Ecological Applications 15:1851–1863.
Hall, S. P. & M. P. Schafale. 1999. Conservation Assessment of the southeast Coastal Plain of North Carolina, using site-oriented and landscape-oriented analyses. Raleigh.
Lendemer, J.C./ Allen, J.L. 2014: Lichen Biodiversity under threat from Sea-Level Rise in the Atlantic Coastal Plain. - BioScience 64: 923-931.
Lendemer, J.C./ Harris, R.C. 2014: Seven new species of Graphidaceae (Lichenized Ascomycetes) from the Coastal Plain of southeastern North America. - Phytotaxa 189(1): 7-38. [RLL Suppl. Rec.# 708]
J. C. Lendemer and K. Knudsen 2008: Studies in lichens and lichenicolous fungi: further notes on North American taxa. - Mycotaxon 103: 75-86. [RLL List # 210 / Rec.# 30139]
Lendemer, JC/ Yahr, R 2004: A checklist of the lichens collected during the Tuckerman workshop #12, Outer Banks, North Carolina, USA. - Evansia 21(3): 118-136. [RLL List # 197 / Rec.# 26160]
Loveland T. R. & W. Acevedo. 2000. Land Cover Change in the Eastern United States. United States Geological Survey, Land Cover Trends Project. Website: http://landcovertrends.usgs.gov/east/regionalSummary.html (accessed 10March2010).
Napton, D. E., R. F. Auch, R. Headley & J. L. Taylor. 2010. Land changes and their driving forces in the Southeastern United States. Regional Environmental Change 10: 37–53.
Ricketts, T.H., E. Dinerstein, D.M. Olson & C.J. Loucks. 1999. Terrestrial ecoregions of North America: a conservation assessment. Island Press, Washington, D.C.
Sallenger A.H. Jr., K.S. Doran & P.A. Howd. 2012. Hotspot of accelerated sea-level rise on the Atlantic Coast of North America. Nature Climate Change 2: 884–888.
Terando, A.J., J.K. Costanza, C. Belyea, R.R. Dunn, A.J. McKerrow & J. Collazo. 2014. The southern megalopolis: using the past to predict the future of urban sprawl in the Southeast U.S. PLOS ONE 9(7): e102261
Phaeographis oricola is endemic to barrier islands in a small region of the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain of eastern North America where it is threatened by sea-level rise and other forces.
This species is narrowly endemic to the barrier islands of eastern North Carolina along the Atlantic Coast of southeastern North America. Extensive fieldwork in the southeastern United States has failed to locate additional populations of the species.
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
This species is restricted to the bark of hardwood shrubs and trees in well-developed mature maritime forests.
In addition to extremely 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. Additional threats include pollution, road expansion and maintenance 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.