Pilophorus fibula (Appalachian Matchsticks) is endemic to the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern North America, where it is known from only 11 total collections. It is an extremely rare species, and even in the two areas where it has been collected recently (see below), it is very, very uncommonly seen by lichenologists who are actively looking for it.
Endemic to the Appalachian Mountains; modern collections are known only from the southern Appalachians (in and around Great Smoky Mountains National Park) and the extreme northern terminus of the mountain chain, in New Brunswick and Newfoundland.
Myself and colleagues (J. Lendemer, B. Buck) are responsible for 7 of the 11 total known collections of this species. In all cases, thalli of Appalachian Matchsticks were extremely small and very localized in the field—NEVER abundant. One collection was made by J. Dey in 1981, just outside of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. All of the remaining collections were made in 1933 and earlier. We are uncertain as to population trends for this species, given it has been seen and collected so few times.
Population Trend: Uncertain
Appalachian Matchsticks may be rare in part because of having extremely specialized habitat needs. Where we have collected it, habitat has been very high quality forest that is consistently moist or humid, and usually proximal to perennial rivers. Appalachian Matchsticks is a saxicolous species.
Recreation, trail maintenance, acid rain or fog pollution, global climate change
Given the extreme rarity of this species, it is imperative that land managers take immediate action to protect and monitor any known populations of these species. Such populations should be monitored at regular (5 years or less) intervals to ensure longevity and to ensure protection measures are working.
Nothing is known about the biology of this species.
Lendemer, J.C., R.C. Harris, and E.A. Tripp. 2013. The Lichens and Allied Fungi of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The New York Botanical Garden Press, 260 pp.