Lichenomphalia altoandina is known from two areas in northern Chile in the Altiplano ecosystem which extends into Bolivia and southern Peru. It likely also occurs in Bolivia as the habitat extends into that country and the sites in Chile where it has been collected borders Bolivia. It possibly could be found in southern Peru, but there are no data to support this. There are only 6 collections of the species all from northern Chile, one with 50 basidiomes, the others with fewer. It is estimated that the species occurs in up to 50 sites in Chile, Bolivia, and southern Peru where there is suitable habitat. The estimated total population is approximately 600 (50 sites, each with up to 12 mature individuals), split into separate subpopulations. Due to impact of mining and other human activities, the population has declined over time, and will likely continue to do so. It is listed as Vulnerable.
Lichenomphalia altoandina Sandoval-Leiva & Niveiro,sp. nov.
MycoBank MB 815457
Currently it has not been found anywhere else, but it is probably distributed in high elevation Andean Mountain wetlands throughout northern Chile. Ecosystems that are highly threatened, not only by anthropogenic actions but also, from consequences of climate change.
This species is known from two localities in northern Chile that share the same environmental characteristics, in the xerophytic Puna phytogeographical region. This area is part of the Altiplano ecosystem which extends into Bolivia and southern Peru. It has been collected from the following areas: near Lirima in the Pica Municipality, Tarapaca Region, and near Colpitas in the General Lagos Municipality, Arica y Parinacota Region. It likely also occurs in Bolivia as the habitat extends into that country and the sites in Chile where it has been collected border Bolivia. It possibly could be found in southern Peru, but there are no data to support this.
It has been recorded from 2 areas, in two different regions of northern Chile that share the same environmental characteristics. The holotype was collected from Tarapacá Region, growing on dead cushions of Zameioscirpus atacamensis and Oxychloë andina. Five more collections were obtained from sites in Arica y Parinacota Region, one with 50 basidiomes, the others with fewer, most with approximately 25 basidiomes. It is likely that the species also occurs in Bolivia and southern Peru. It is estimated that the species occurs in up to 50 sites where there is suitable habitat, but the number of subpopulations will be fewer than this. The estimated total population size is approximately 600 mature individuals (50 sites, each with up to 12 mature individuals).
Population Trend: Decreasing
It grows on dead cushions of Zameioscirpus atacamensis and Oxychloë andina with Deyeuxia curvula and Carex sp. in saline wetlands, all endemic to the Altiplano ecosystem over 3,000 m above sea level (Chong 1988, Josse et al. 2009), which is part of the xerophytic Puna phytogeographical region (Josse et al. 2009). Climatically this region encompasses the driest portion of the Andes Mountains and experiences markedly seasonal rainfall that is restricted to the summer months (Kalin Arroyo et al. 1988, Teillier 1998).
The area where the species occurs is made up of salt flats and salt lakes. This encompasses a large region that covers parts of northern Chile, Boliva, and southern Peru. This habitat is sensitive to many threats. Small changes in the hydrological budget can cause rapid and significant changes to the lakes, and therefore to the natural communities that they support. Nearly all environmental changes are due to human activities, including water pumping for mining companies and mining itself (e.g. see Williams, 2002). Mining is the primary industry of the region, and of Chile in general. Additionally, the region suffers from secondary side effects including disturbance and removal of natural vegetation due to goat grazing and harvesting of native plants by local communities. This increases lake salinity and affects the diversity of the biota (e.g. see Williams, 2002).
No conservation actions are currently in place. Habitat and host plant protection is needed, in addition to raising awareness. Better restrictions, and enforcement, controlling mining in the region is also required.
An increase in sampling effort is needed, especially in Bolivia and Peru to better define its geographical distribution and learn more about its ecology.
There is no reported use/trade.
Chong, G. (1988). The cenozoic saline deposits of the Chilean Andes between 18°00′ and 27°00′ south latitude. In: Bahlburg, H., Breitkreuz, C., Giese P., eds. The Southern Central Andes. Lecture Notes in Earth Sciences (17). Berlin: Springer-Verlag. p. 137–151.
Josse, C., Cuesta, F., Navarro, G., Barrena, V., Cabrera, E., Chacón- Moreno, E., Ferreira, W., Peralvo, M., Saito, J. and Tovar, A. (2009). Ecosistemas de los Andes del Norte y Centro. Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Perú y Venezuela. Lima, Peru: Secretaría General de la Comunidad Andina, Programa Regional ECOBONA-Intercooperation, CONDESAN-Proyecto Páramo Andino, Programa BioAndes, EcoCiencia, NatureServe, IAvH, LTA-UNALM, ICAEULA,CDC-UNALM, RUMBOL SRL.
Kalin Arroyo, M.T., Squeo, F.A., Armesto, J.J. and Villagran, C. (1988). Effects of aridity on plant diversity in the northern Chilean Andes: results of a natural experiment. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 75:55–78.
Teillier, S. (1998). Flora y vegetación altoandina del área de Collahuasi–Salar de Coposa, Andes del Norte de Chile. Revista Chilena de Historia Natural 71:313–329.
Sandoval-Leiva, P., Niveiro, N., Urbina-Casanova, R. and Scherson, R. (2017). Lichenomphalia altoandina, a new species of Hygrophoraceae from the Chilean Altiplano, Mycologia, 109:(1), 92-99, DOI: 10.1080/00275514.2017.1281682.
Williams, W.D. (2002) Environmental threats to salt lakes and the likely status of inland saline ecosystems in 2025. Environmental Conservation 29 (2): 154–167