• 1Proposed
  • 2Under Assessment
  • 3Preliminary Assessed
  • 4Assessed
  • 5Published

Hypotrachyna virginica (Hale) Hale

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Scientific name
Hypotrachyna virginica
(Hale) Hale
Common names
IUCN Specialist Group
Assessment status
Proposed by
Jessica Allen
Toby Spribille
André Aptroot
Jessica Allen, André Aptroot
Comments etc.
Anders Dahlberg, Sergio Perez-Ortega, Christoph Scheidegger

Assessment Notes

Taxonomic notes

Why suggested for a Global Red List Assessment?

This species is within the USA narrowly endemic to spruce-fir forests in the highest elevations of the southern Appalachian mountains of North America. It is threatened by mountain top extinction due to climate change and loss of habitat due to invasive tree pests.
However it is also known from Puerto Rico and Guadaloupe, and possibly Mexico.

The total world distribution seems to be not very well known. The species may occur in many other countries than those four reported so far, according to its ecological requirements and the current known distribution (taking into consideration Puerto Rico and Guadaloupe). We considerer this species as Data Deficient.

Geographic range

This species is narrowly endemic to the southern Appalachian mountains of North America. It is only known from western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee

Population and Trends

This species was collected by John Dey in the 1970s throughout the high mountains of the southern Appalachians. Very few recent collections of this species have been made, and extensive searches throughout the region have not resulted in the discovery of many extant populations (Allen, in prep.).

Nowthing is known about the population size and trend in the other 3 countries it is known from.

Population Trend: Uncertain

Habitat and Ecology

This species only grows in southern Appalachian spruce-fir forests, a critically imperiled ecosystem (G1-G2 ranking, Natureserve), and heath balds. It grows on both hardwood and coniferous trees.

It grows in various differnt dry forest types in the neotropics.

Temperate ForestSubtropical/Tropical Dry Forest


Because it grows only at the very highest elevations in a small region this species is imminently threatened by mountain top extinction due to climate change (Allen, in prep.).Most of the popuations are known from spruce-fir forests. The southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest is a globally highly imperiled ecosystem. Past human activities have reduced the extent of the spruce-fir forest by 90-99%. Now, these forests and the species within them are threatened by acid rain and smog (both of which lichens are particularly sensitive too), the loss of Abies fraseri due to the balsam wooly adelgid, transportation corridors increasing air pollution, and climatically suitable habitats shifting with climate change.

Named speciesAcid rainSmogHabitat shifting & alteration

Conservation Actions

The known populations of this species are all in national forest, state park, or national park land, so protecting the land area where it grows is not a concern. However, there are many conservation actions that can be taken including controlling the balsam wooly adelgid on Abies fraseri, 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.

Invasive/problematic species controlHabitat & natural process restorationEducation & awarenessPolicies and regulations

Research needed

The distribution of this species is well understood, but only within the USA. It is well documented to be a very narrow endemic within the USA. 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

Population size, distribution & trendsHarvest, use & livelihoodsThreatsSpecies Action/Recovery PlanPopulation trends

Use and Trade


Abramson, R. and Haskell, J. 2006 Encyclopedia of Appalachia. University of Tennessee Press: Knoxville, TN.

Dey, J.P. 1978 Fruticose and foliose lichens of the high-mountain areas of the southern Appalachians. The Bryologist 81: 1-93.

Rollins, A.W., Adams, H.S. and Stephenson, S.L. 2010 Changes in forest composition and structure across the red spruce-hardwood ecotone in the central Appalachians. Castanea 75: 303–314.

Rose, A. and Nicholas, N. S. 2008 Coarse woody debris in a Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Nat. Areas J. 28: 342–355.

Sipman, H.J.M., Elix, J.A. and Nash, T.H. 2009 Hypotrachyna (Parmeliaceae, lichenized fungi). Flora Neotropica 104: 1-176.

Known distribution - countries

Regional Population and Trends

Country Trend Redlisted