Cyphelium brachysporum is a rare species that is endemic to mature chaparral communities in southern California where it is threatened by numerous forces.
Cyphelium brachysporum occurs in at middle and low elevations in mountain ranges of southern California between the major urban centers of Los Angeles and San Diego.
Demographic studies are needed to assess and monitor populations sizes. Populations are currently presumed to be stable although extant populations may represent remnants of a once larger range in the region.
Population Trend: Stable
This species occurs on the old wood and rough bark of hardwood trees and shrubs in mature coastal sage scrub and chaparral communities.
The primary threat to this species is from fire. The shrubs and trees in the communities where it occurs are relatively short-lived, with life spans of forty to seventy years. In old-growth coastal sage shrub or chaparral, in areas where natural fire incidents are relatively infrequent, the shrubs die and disintegrate, offering abundant substrate for the species. Throughout California anthropogenic fires have become common and many chaparral areas have increased fire frequencies of twenty years or less, making the habitat of Cyphelium brachysporum increasingly rare. Additional threats to this species stem from 1) air pollution, 2) shifting habitats/changes in precipitation resulting from climate change, and 3) conversion of natural habitat both historical and ongoing as the cities of southern California merge and spread inland.
Conservation actions that can be taken including educating and training land managers and local botanists to identify the species so we can monitor its health as well as contracting experts to conduct detailed monitoring at various time intervals (every 5 to 10 years), federally listing the species as endangered in the United States, and restoration of the habitats in which the species occurs. Further conservation of lands where existing populations occur is also needed.
Further research that will aid in the conservation of this species includes intensive searches for additional extant populations, 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.
K. Knudsen and J. Kocourková 2008: Pechanga Cyphelium: a lichen of old growth chaparral in Southern California. - The Chaparralian 5(1): 1, 3-4.
J. C. Lendemer, J. Kocourková and K. Knudsen 2008: Studies in lichens and lichenicolous fungi: notes on some taxa from North America. - Mycotaxon 105: 379-386.