This attractive species was described two decades ago (Randlane et al. 1995) and it is supposed to belong to the core group of cetrarioid lichens in fam. Parmeliaceae (Thell et al. 2009; Randlane et al. 2013).
Although its morphology (separated dorsiventral lobes growing upright; no pycnidial projections or apothecia observed) and ecology (inhabits ground while all other Cetreliopsis species are corticolous) differ from those of the other representatives of the genus, there is no doubt about its generic position due to specific chemistry and anatomical structures (large pseudocyphellae on both thallus surfaces).
Cetreliopsis papuae is a macrolichen with distinct morphological characters, so it can be recognized in the field also by non-specialists.
Cetreliopsis papuae is an extremely rare species with very restricted distribution area in New Guinea. Only three localities are known till now (collections made in 1967, 1971 and 1975), all from high altitudes (over 3400 m) in montane areas of Papua New Guinea. The species is endangered because of its very restricted distribution and by possible damage of the specific habitat, alpine grasslands, by fires and economic activities. Regular burning takes place in many localities of these mountain ranges, both in grasslands and in forests (Lambley 1991). For instance, in 2008 it was declared, based on satellite images, that Papua New Guinea has lost 24% of its rainforest during last 30 years through commercial logging, agriculture and burning (Satellite images uncover… 2008). Additionally, deposits of gold and copper in the Star Mountains (enclosing one recorded locality of Cetreliopsis papuae), are increasingly exploited with large mining operations which have implications for the surrounding areas (Lambley 1991).
Criterion A is not applicable as there is no information about the trends of population size over long time periods.
Criterion B: using GeoCat tool, EOO was assessed 8.821 sq km. The species has been recorded only in 3 mountain tips in Papua New Guinea and is definitely absent from some relatively often visited mountains in between these three localities. It might extend also to the mountains in Papua province, Indonesia (earlier Irian Jaya). Even so, the whole mountain range is less than 20.000 sq km. Lichen population in mountain tips is clearly fragmented within this range, and the population reduction is inferred because of possible fires and mining activities in the species habitat. Cetreliopsis papuae is assessed VU B1(ab).
Criterion C is not applicable as there is no information about the number of mature individuals.
Criterion D: AOO was assessed 12 sq km; no of known localities is 3, consequently the species is also VU according D2.
Criterion E is not applicable.
Decision. Cetreliopsis papuae is assessed as VU B1(ab) and D2.
The species occurs only in one island and in one country – Papua New Guinea. Location records:
1. Papua New Guinea, [Western province,] Star Mountains, Mt. Scorpion, 3600 m, open herbfield, leg. Hope 1975 (US, holotype).
2. Papua New Guinea, Central distr., Tapini subdistr., Mt. Strong, 3450 m, shrublet communities, leg. Coode 03.05.1971 (Herb. Aptroot).
3. Papua New Guinea, Southern Highlands, Mt. Giluwe, 4140 m, leg. D. McVean 1967 (BM).
The species occurs as fragmented subpopulations in three mountain tips; population size has not been assessed nor population trends researched.
Cetreliopsis papuae grows in high mountains (over 3400 m) of Papua New Guinea, in open herbfields or shrublet communities, on the ground.
Cetreliopsis papuae has very restricted distribution area and specific habitat; it is endangered by possible damage of this habitat, alpine grasslands, by fires and economic activities.
The species is sterile and probably reproduces vegatatively by thallus fragments, therefore the dispersal distance cannot be large, and ability of inhabiting further localities is likely to be limited.
No conservation plan is available; the known localities are not situated in protected areas, according to the present knowledge. There is an urgent need for a detailed assessment of the current extent of occurrence, population size and trend.
The first concern is whether Cetreliopsis papuae is still growing in the area where it has been recorded in 1960-70s; any further data about its ecology, biology and population trends are required as well.
Lambley, P. W . 1991. Lichens of Papua New Guinea. Pp. 69–84 in Galloway, D. J. (ed.) Tropical Lichens: Their systematics, Conservation, and Ecology. Systematics Association Special Volume 43. Claredon Press, Oxford.
Randlane, T. Thell, A. & Saag, A. 1995. New data about the genera Cetrariopsis, Cetreliopsis and Nephromopsis (fam. Parmeliaceae, lichenized Ascomycota). Cryptogamie, Bryol. Lichenol. vol. 16, no. 1: 35–60.
Randlane, T., Saag, A., Thell, A. & Ahti, T. 2013. Third world list of cetrarioid lichens – in a new databased form, with amended phylogenetic and type information. Cryptogamie, Mycologie 34(1): 79–94.
“Satellite images uncover rapid PNG deforestation”. ABC News. 2 June 2008. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2008-06-02/satellite-images-uncover-rapid-png-deforestation/2456996
Sipman, H. J. M. & Aptroot, A. 2007. Lichen biodiversity in Papua New Guinea. Pp. 303–319 in Marshall, A. J. & B. M. Beehler (eds.). The ecology of Papua. Periplus, Singapore.
Thell, A., Högnabba, F., Elix, J. A., Feuerer, T., Kärnefelt, I., Myllys, L., Randlane, T., Saag, A., Stenroos, S., Ahti, T. & Seaward, M. R. D. 2009. Phylogeny of the cetrarioid core (Parmeliaceae) based on five genetic markers. Lichenologist 41: 489– 511.