All but one subpopulation has been recorded since 2005, so all currently recorded subpopulations are considered to be extant. Mature forest, especially mature spruce-fir forest, is essential for the maintenance of populations of Lepraria lanata. This species has not been found in any areas where the forest has been recently impacted by the Balsam Woolly Adelgid (Adelges piceae), both in forests that are dominated by standing dead firs and in forests where the firs have begun to regenerate, but grow in very dense stands. The Balsam Woolly Adelgid is an invasive pest that killa mature Abies fraseri throughout the southern Appalachians, ultimately leading it to be one factor in listing A. fraseri as Endangered (Farjon 2013). Thus the sharp decline in mature spruce-fir forest that occurred upon the introduction of the Balsam Woolly Adelgid is inferred to have drastically reduced the number of subpopulations and size of subpopulations of Lepraria lanata. Furthermore, clear-cut logging during the 20th century likely drastically reduced the number of populations of L. lanata before the Balsam Woolly Adelgid was introduced.
Population Trend: decreasing
Lepraria lanata only grows on medium to large, shaded boulders and rock outcrops in humid, mature forests. The majority of populations grow in spruce-fir forests.
Leparia lanata is threatened by habitat loss because it grows almost exclusively in spruce-fir forests, a highly imperiled ecosystem (Rose and Nicholas 2008, Rollins et al. 2010, White et al. 2010). In the past the spruce-fir forest has been heavily impacted by logging, so very little old growth spruce-fir remains. Now Abies fraseri, one of the dominant members of this ecosystem, is being killed by the Balsam Woolly Adelgid (Adelges piceae). Most populations grow on national park and national forest land, and these areas continue to be protected from resource extraction and other land use changes through existing or strengthened regulation to assure that this species will persist. Climate change is also a serious threat to this species. Changes have already been documented in the habitat in which this species grows. Cloud immersion has declined significantly in recent years (Cullata and Horton 2014). Additionally, species distribution models projected to 2050 and 2070 using two different climate change models (CCSM4 and HadGEM2-AO) at the lowest and highest carbon dioxide concentration (2.6 and 8.5 rcp) were recently built in Maxent for this species (Allen and Lendemer 2016). The results of the modeling predict an average suitable habitat loss of 95.4% with a minimum loss of 79.1% and a maximum loss of 100%. This will represent a significant decrease in the Area of Occupancy and Extent of Occurrence for the species.