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Growth in relation to microclimatic conditions and physiological characteristics of four Lobaria pulmonaria populations in two contrasting habitats


  • Gisela Gaio-Oliveira,

  • Lena Dahlman,

  • Cristina Máguas,

  • Kristin Palmqvist

G. Gaio-Oliveira ( and C. Máguas, CEBV – Center for Ecology and Plant Biology, Dept de Biologia Vegetal, Fac. de Ciências da Univ. de Lisboa, Bloco C2 Piso 4, Campo Grande, PL-1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal. – L. Dahlman and K. Palmqvist, Dept of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Umeå Univ., SE-901 87 Umeå, Sweden.


The aim of the present study was to compare the physiological characteristics of various populations of the lichen Lobaria pulmonaria in Portugal and Sweden. For this, indirect markers of algal (photobiont) and fungal (mycobiont) activity were measured, as well as their CO2 gasexchange characteristics. Microclimatic conditions and the lichens growth performance in the two countries were compared using reciprocal transplantation. Two populations of L. pulmonaria represented each country: one collected from forest interior conditions and one from forest edge habitats. A non-transplanted “wild” population was also studied in each country, in order to evaluate any transplantation effects per se. The main hypothesis were that; 1) growth should be faster in Portugal due to higher light availability; 2) the energy use efficiency of lichen biomass gain should be similar for the native populations in their respective native habitat; 3) if the lichens were able to adapt to the environmental conditions in the foreign habitat this should be revealed as similar growth rates among all thalli transplanted at the same site, regardless of their origin. Physiologically, the Portuguese and Swedish populations were very similar, both concerning their CO2 gas exchange characteristics and distribution of resources between photo- and mycobiont tissue. Environmental conditions were more advantageous for L. pulmonaria growth in Portugal, i.e. higher photon flux densities and ambient temperatures when the lichens were wet and active, and a lower fraction of the active time occurring in darkness. However, despite similar physiological characteristics of all the studied populations, the Swedish lichens were not able to grow as well in Portugal as the native, while all populations had similarly low growth rates in Sweden.