Nephroma occultum Wetm. is a rare, epiphytic lichen associated with old-growth forests of northwestern North America. We describe its distribution, abundance, and habitat within the managed landscape of a southwestern Oregon watershed. Because this species is found mainly in the canopy, we used direct canopy access (tree climbing) in combination with ground (litter) searches for our surveys. We recommend this dual approach when confident determination of presence or absence of a canopy species is needed. Our surveys confirm that N. occultum is a rare old-growth associate within the area of this study, the southernmost extension of its known range. It was both rare across the landscape and uncommon in our primary study site, a 500 yr old stand. It was most often found growing close to the trunk on branches of large Pseudotsuga menziesii, but its distribution was sporadic even within an old-growth stand. The scarcity of very old stands, in combination with the limited ability of this species to disperse within and between stands, has likely contributed to its rarity within the watershed. Management for N. occultum should focus on populations and habitat needs rather than on individuals. Our calculations show that cutting with retention of individual trees surrounded by small buffers could result in the eventual loss of N. occultum from the study area.
Additional publication details
Ecology and conservation of a rare, old-growth-associated canopy lichen in a silvicultural landscape