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

Dendriscosticta wrightii (Tuck.) Moncada & Lücking

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Scientific name
Dendriscosticta wrightii
(Tuck.) Moncada & Lücking
Common names
Wright's moon lichen
стикта Райта
Wright's spotted felt lichen
IUCN Specialist Group
Assessment status
Proposed by
Toby Spribille
Toby Spribille
Comments etc.
André Aptroot, Peter Bilovitz, Anders Dahlberg, Karen Dillman, Dmitry Himelbrant, Alexey Selivanov, Irina Stepanchikova, Göran Thor

Assessment Notes

Taxonomic notes

Dendriscosticta wrightii (Tuck.) Moncada & Lücking, Lichenologist 45(2): 199-202 (2013)
Syn. Sticta wrightii Tuck., Amer. J. Sci. Arts, Ser. 2 28: 204 (1859)
Syn. Sticta oroborealis Goward & Tønsberg, in Tønsberg & Goward, Bryologist 104(1): 19 (2001)
Synonymy based on Spribille et al. (ined.)

Sticta wrightii occurs in two morphs: a chloromorph and a cyanomorph. Chloromorph: a large foliose lichen, thalli to > 30 cm diam., gray above (green when moist), pale creamish to whitish below, associated with a green alga (Dictyochloropsis). Ascomata rounded apothecia. Cyanomorph: a highly dissected shrub-like structure with pubescent primary “stalks” and finely dissected secondary and tertiary side-branches; associated with a cyanobacterium (Nostoc). The species differs from the widespread palaeotropical species Sticta platyphylla in the absence of secondary metabolites such as tridepsides, and the presence of platy outgrowths of hyphae on the lobe tips of the chloromorph that give the thallus a “pruinose” appearance.

The species is known to consist of a cluster of genetic haplotype groups that may constitute distinct species of their own, with a haplotype group for Chinese samples, one for Alaskan and British Columbian samples and one for the entity described as Sticta oroborealis by Tønsberg & Goward (2001) from British Columbia (Moncada et al. 2013; Spribille, Goffinet, Goward et al. unpublished data 2014). It is not clear from the current genetic data if these constitute non-recombining species. However, this is at some level irrelevant for the species assessment as all entities individually and in toto are thought to be in sharp decline.

Why suggested for a Global Red List Assessment?

Dendriscosticta wrightii is a species dependent on old-growth forests in areas with pristine air quality. It has three centers of distribution: in the high elevation rainforests of the Hengduan Shan in SW China, in Japan, and in a belt from SE Alaska to inland British Columbia (see map). Though geographically widespread, it is in strong decline, with nearly all known Canadian populations in or near areas of active logging activity and Chinese and Japanese populations suffering from declining air quality and human encroachment. In addition, the species is sterile in a large part of its range. The only two known central European sites are historical. The species persists in Europe in the Komi Republic (NW Urals).

Assessment for Europe: EN following A2bc, A3bc, A4bc: extinct in the Alps and much reduced in European Russia.

At the global level: VU following A2bc, A3bc, A4bc: there is certainly reduction of c. 30 % in Canada and Russia; trend in China and Japan unknown: this may be needed to know to decide.

Geographic range

The main concentrations of occurrences are in the Hengduan Shan of SW China and a narrow band from SE Alaska to SE (inland) British Columbia. Nearly all other occurrences are isolated, with some in the Western Sayan Mtns. of southern Siberia, Ural Mtns., Russian Karelia, and Primorksiy and Khabarovskiy Krai in the Far East; Japan; and Lake Superior in central North America. The collections from Austria and Germany are historical (1862, 1879) and the species is considered extinct in central Europe.

One collection has been reported from environmental DNA from Mt. Cameroon, but no voucher is known and the sequence was produced in a lab working heavily on Sticta. Considered doubtful as there are no other records from the Tropics.

Population and Trends

All sites mapped as to records before or after 1960 (see map above).

North America

BRITISH COLUMBIA: about 16 sites in British Columbia, only one in a protected area (Wells Gray Provincial Park), others in low elevation oldgrowth forests that are subjected to current logging activities. All but five or six of the British Columbia populations are of the dendriscocauloid morph and have been verified by DNA. All British Columbia populations including those of the chloromorph are sterile - apothecial initials are formed in two populations but the apothecia are abortive (T. Goward and T. Spribille, unpublished data). The southernmost site in British Columbia, located in the spray zone of a small waterfall, was documented in 2001 but may have not survived the severe drought of 2003. It could not be located in several hours of searching known host trees in 2014 (T. Spribille, pers. obs.).

The historical potential and current suitable habitat for this species in British Columbia has been modeled using GIS to estimate habitat decline in the past three generations in this part of its range (Cross 2015). A generation was estimated to be 30 years. The criteria were as follows: suitable habitat in biogeooclimatic zones ICHvk, ICHwk, ICHmc, ICHwc of British Columbia biogeoclimatic ecosystem classification; areas below 1000m in ICH vk/wk and below 800 m in ICHmc/wc; areas of

<15% percent slope because the species occurs almost only in valley bottoms and toe slope positions; areas that are PNV forest (excluding wetlands, rock, etc.); and of this area regenerated in last 90 years (three generations) indicates removal of old forest habitat required for this species:

total vk- wk = 1,199,346 ha
forested vk- wk- = 943,835 ha
below 1000 m and less than 15% slope = 147,443 ha

less than 90 yrs = 45,628 ha
greater than 90 years = 101,815 ha


total mc and vc = 1,006,679 ha

forested mc and vc = 831,582 ha
less than 800m and less than 15% slope = 267,524 ha

greater than 90 years = 199,347 ha
less than 90 years = 68,177 ha


ALASKA, U.S.A.: fifteen sites are known, mainly in cold inland fjords of the southeast. Five populations are in protected areas (Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, Glacier Bay National Park, Endicott River Wilderness, Denali National Park).

Karen Dillman (U.S.A.) wrote: "This species is rare in Alaska, and is considered an S2 by the Alaska Natural Heritage Program. It is known from less than 15 locations on large riparian areas in SE and SC Alaska and in two locations on islands in the Alexander Archipelago. Many of the riparian areas are trans-boundary rivers with Canada. For example, the Stikine River on the US side is wilderness, but the Canadian portion at the border is set to be mined for gold in the very near future, threatening to the air and water quality of Stikine River wilderness. The known Alaska populations are all in riparian or beach fringe habitat in low elevations. This habitat is most vulnerable to salvage and selected tree logging, windthrow events from increasing intense storms due to climate change, road building, and other unregulated uses by the public on public lands that are difficult to control in remote locations."

MICHIGAN, U.S.A.: the only known collection is from Isle Royale from 1959 (MSC!)


JAPAN: ca. 17 widely scattered sites from herbarium TNS (Y. Ohmura, pers. comm., Jan. 2015) from Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu and the Oki Islands; some localities may not be included due to some specimens being out on loan. The current state of populations needs to be reassessed with new field visits.

CHINA: ca. 45 sites are recorded along the Tibetan fringe mountains (Hengduan Shan) in Yunnan, Sichuan, Xizang and Shanxi provinces, with the majority in northern Yunnan (Wang Lisong, pers. comm., 2015). Population trends are uncertain. Most occurrences are at 2500-4000 m elevation in high elevation woodlands. Some populations are in woodlands are in use for firewood gathering and burning, but at least some populations are in strictly protected areas (national parks).

王立松 Wang Lisong, Kunming, pers. comm., writes:"This species growing in natural Forest (Normally on Quercus and Rhododendron bark or rock, between 2500-3700 m elev., which record from my collections). But now many travellers are coming in the forest, which make some lichen species move to more inside of forest, although we have not clear research for this result."

TAIWAN: no mapped records but has been reported (


RUSSIA, Far East: Primorksiy Krai, Sikhote Alin’ Mountains; Khabarovskiy Krai, Khekhtsir Range; Kunashir Island (Chabanenko 2002)

MONGOLIA: Khangay Region (one site?), first reported by Biazrov et al. (1983) (Biazrov 2013)

SOUTH KOREA: reported for South Korea by Kim (1981, cited in Jayalal et al. 2014) but no specimens located in recent study (Jayalal et al. 2014). However, a specimen from Jeju (Cheju) Island is preserved in TNS (leg. K.H. Moon; Y. Ohmura, pers. comm.).

Europe to Urals region

AUSTRIA/GERMANY: extinct in the Alps. Historical collections (1860-1880) document the occurrence of Dendriscosticta wrightii on Acer near Berchtesgaden and on the German-Austrian border near Salzburg.

RUSSIA: census made on population in Perm’ Region, 192 thalli counted (Karasev et al. 2014).

Göran Thor wrote: “Janolof Hermansson has found the species on about 20 rich localities and some more localities with just a few thalli in the Komi region, Ural Mountains, Russia.”

Specific input from Irina Stepanchikova and Dmitry Himelbrant, pers. comm.:
European Russia and Ural Mountains: mainly extinct, in few regions practically extinct!
Vologda Region - 1 old locality, no data about nowadays, our opinion - extinct;
Karelia - 2 old locs, both lost;
Kostroma Region - 1 (2008);
Perm’ Reg. - 1 (1928), probably extinct in this locality, present in Region, decline;
Ekaterinburg Region - 2 (1870s, 1887) - probably extinct in this localities and in Region;
Komi Rep. - 1 (1998). Really species present in more loc., but decline.

Siberia: present in South Siberia only, mainly in Baikal Region. Probably decline population due forestry.
Altai: 1 old loc (1897) - extinct?
Buryatia: 7 locs, 5 after 1960 (probably the species still present there, but decline population due forestry);
Krasnoyarsk Region: 5 locs since 1986 (probably the species still present there, but decline population due forestry);
Irkutsk Reg. - 8 loc, 7 after 1960 (probably the species still present there, but decline population due forestry).

Far East: present in South FE only. Probably decline population due forestry.
Khabarovsk Region - 1 loc (1922) (probably the species still present there, but decline population due forestry).

Alexey Selivanov wrote: “Stikta vrigntii in the Perm region occurs at a single point on the ridge Kuryksar (Northern Urals). Habitat area of about 2 km2. This area is close to the border Vishera Reserve, but not guarded. Main threats population of the species, it is forest fires, logging, pollution. In the late 19th century stikta was distributed much wider than in our time. It is safe to talk about reducing its number and area in the Perm region.”

Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology

Epiphytic / on trees throughout most of its range, but with some occurrences on moss over rock in western Canada, one from Isle Royale in Michigan (U.S.A.) and occurrences in European Russia and Austria on moss over rock or soil. Main ecological center as an epiphyte in cool temperate and boreal rainforests with heavy winter snow.

Boreal Forest


Poorly regulated industrial logging in Canada is sharply reducing a large portion of its known available habitat in North America. A recent mine tailings dam break near a population center at Quesnel Lake, central British Columbia contaminated a large part of the watershed in which the species is known to occur with arsenic sludge, including extensive riparian areas. Fringe populations around waterfalls in British Columbia are threatened by the construction of independent power producing projects are waterways with steep grades, reducing torrents/whitewater/waterfall habitats to low levels and limiting natural mist zones.

Karen Dillman (USA) wrote: “In Alaska, the primary land owner where this lichen is found is the national forest (Tongass and Chugach). Some of the populations are in designated wilderness, on mainland river corridors and forested beach fringes along salt water. However, Canadian gold mining upriver on trans-boundary rivers such as the Stikine is a threat to this lichen. It occurs in the Stikine watershed which is designated wilderness on the US side. Other threats outside wilderness areas include small scale logging on the beach fringe close to communities, where individuals can harvest trees for special uses. Since this lichen is not currently listed as sensitive by the US Forest Service, it is not surveyed for during timber harvest operations small or large to help locate it to potentially avoid disturbance in beach forest thinning operations or individual tree harvest for special uses. Climate change is another threat to this lichen in Alaska. Predictions are for warmer and wetter conditions in the temperate rainforest coastal region, which equates to greater volumes of water in the riparian areas and flooding potential. This lichen is found on the edge of the riparian banks in higher light microsites, therefore, more susceptible to river bank undercutting with high water as well as wind throw of host trees due to increasing storm intensities. Warmer and wetter conditions may also effect the delicate wet/dry cycle the lichen photobiont needs to photosynthesize, and promote growth and reproduction for this lichen.”

Mining & quarryingUtility & service linesUnintentional effects: large scale (species being assessed is not the target) [harvest]Dams (size unknown)Air-borne pollutants

Conservation Actions

The species was recently proposed for regional “Species of Special Concern” status by the U.S. Forest Service in Alaska but is pending approval (K. Dillman, pers. comm., 2014).

Karasev & Selivanov (2014) propose for populations in the Perm region of Russia “The most important protection measures should be considered a complete exclusion of any kind of tree felling near habitats sticta, restriction of recreation, environmental education activities”.

Policies and regulations

Research needed

Population: an assessment is needed for Japanese and Chinese populations. Some data are available from recent surveys in the Russian Far East (Primorskiy and Khabarovskiy Kray) but trend data are lacking. An assessment is required of specimens and population trends in the southern Lake Baikal region (Western Sayan mountains).

Population monitoring is required for Canadian populations in decline.

TaxonomyPopulation size, distribution & trendsPopulation trends

Use and Trade


Anonymous (year) Japanese Red Data Book Entry: http://www.pref.ehime.jp/reddatabook2014/detail/12_08_017300_0.html

Anonymous (year) British Columbia red list entry: http://a100.gov.bc.ca/pub/eswp/search_process.do?searchType=PLANT&nameSpec=Sticta+wrightii

Biazrov L.G. (2013) Checklist of the Mongolian lichens. Version 8. 2013. – URL: http://www.sevin.ru/laboratories_eng/biazrov_mong.html

Chabanenko, S.I. (2002) Konspekt flory lishaynikov yuga rossiyskogo dal’nego vostoka. Dal’nauka, Vladivostok.

Cross, B. (2015) Identifying historical, potential and current suitable habitat for Dendriscosticta wrightii in the Province of British Columbia, Canada. Unpublished report, 1 page + map.

Jayalal U. et al. (2014). The lichen genus Sticta in South Korea. Mycobiology 42: 6–11.

Karasev, K.A., Selivanov, A.E. (2014). Protected lichens Sticta wrightii Tuck. in Perm region. Modern Problems of Science and Education 2014(4). Available online at http://www.science-education.ru/pdf/2014/5/657.pdf

Kuznetsova E. S., Skazina M. A. 2010. Contribution to the lichen studying of the Kostroma Region. Novitates Systematicae Plantarum non Vascularum. Vol. 44. P.200-209. (In Russian, English summary)

Makry T. I. (2008) Lichens of the genus Sticta (Lobariaceae) in Russia. Bot. Zhurn. 93(2). 304-316. (In Russian)

Moncada, B., Lücking, R., Betancourt-Macuase, L. (2013) Phylogeny of the Lobariaceae (lichenized Ascomycota: Peltigerales), with a reappraisal of the genus Lobariella. Lichenologist 45: 203-263.

Sauter, A. 1873. Die Flechten des Herzogthums Salzburg. – Verh. K.-K. Zool.-Bot. Vereins Wien 23: 335-340. Available online at http://www.landesmuseum.at/pdf_frei_remote/VZBG_23_0335-0340.pdf

Shkaraba E.M.,, Selivanov, A.E., Shajakhmetova Z.M., Karasev, K.A. (2014) Status of rare and endangered species of lichen populations
in the Perm Territory. Biology and Medicine 6(3): BM-041-14. Available online at http://www.biolmedonline.com/Articles/Vol6_3_2014/BM-041-14_Selivanov.pdf

Tønsberg, T., Goward, T (2001) Sticta oroborealis sp. nov. and other Pacific North American lichens forming dendriscocauloid cyanotypes. Bryologist 104(1): 12-23.

Known distribution - countries

Regional Population and Trends

Country Trend Redlisted