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, it has been documented for more than a decade. Suitable habitat for this species is severely fragmented and has been degraded by anthropogenic forces. It has a limited extent of occurrence (EOO) (2,203 km2) and area of occupancy (AOO) (28 km2), severe fragmentation of the population, a small number of locations (six), and an inferred ongoing decline in EOO, AOO and habitat quality due to continued degradation and fragmentation of suitable habitat, impacts from sea-level rise, coastal erosion, and increased storm intensity. Therefore, it is listed as Endangered under criteria B1ab(i,ii,iii,v)+2ab(i,ii,iii,v).
Phaeographis oricola was first documented in 2001 and subsequently found in remnant mature maritime forest habitats at eight localities. These habitats were more widespread in the past, and have become fragmented and degraded through land use change, primarily residential development. In addition to likely historical population declines, an ongoing decline is suspected due continuing alteration and loss of suitable habitat as a result of sea-level rise and increased storm intensities.
Population Trend: decreasing
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 phorophytes 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.
Phaeographis oricola faces many threats, mainly having to do with its habitat. Suitable habitats throughout the barrier islands of the Coastal Plain of the south-eastern United States have been substantially impacted and fragmented by centuries of habitat loss and degradation, particularly residential and recreational development post-1970, road development and maintenance, and utility corridor development and maintenance. Remaining suitable habitats are highly fragmented and declining in quality due to air pollution, fragmentation, altered hydrological regimes and human intrusion. Trends of habitat loss and degradation are continuing at present and projected to increase in the future (Hall and Schafale 1999, Ricketts et al. 1999, Brown et al. 2005, Napton et al. 2010, Terando et al. 2014). These trends will be further exacerbated by climate change and sea-level rise, which is likely impact all locations by 2100 (Sallenger et al. 2012, Lendemer and Allen 2014).