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Abstract Detail

Bryological and Lichenological Section/ABLS

Allen, Jessica [1], Lendemer, James [2].

Lichen diversity imperiled by sea-level rise in the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain.

Climate change presents a major challenge to human civilization and the biodiversity on which it relies. Sea-level rise (SLR), and changes in temperature and weather patterns, have been documented and are projected to increase substantively in the future. These three impacts are expected to exacerbate the burgeoning worldwide biodiversity crisis. Although changes in temperature and weather patterns are well-studied drivers of climate change mediated biodiversity loss, the effects of SLR remain primarily focused on impacts to human populations and infrastructure. Even under conservative estimates, SLR will imperil four coastal regions that host among the most diverse and productive ecosystems in the world. However, these areas are not considered global conservation priorities because delineation of biodiversity hotspots has traditionally been based on well-studied organisms (e.g., vertebrates and vascular plants) under the assumption that their biodiversity patterns mirror those of lesser-known “cryptic” groups (e.g., fungi and invertebrates). Here we show the Atlantic Coastal Plain of eastern North America hosts a previously overlooked lichen biodiversity hotspot that is imminently threatened by SLR. We found that the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula of North Carolina hosts unexpectedly high lichen species diversity. This finding contradicts the notion that hotspots of biodiversity must correlate with drastic elevation gradients because 100% of the most lichen diverse sites we surveyed lie below one meter of sea-level. All of the highest diversity sites will be inundated under the most conservative projections of SLR within the century. The exclusion of lesser-known but diverse and ecologically important groups, such as lichens, from global biodiversity assessments has critical implications for conservation strategies.              

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1 - The New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY, 10458, USA
2 - New York Botanic Garden, 200th Street And Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY, 10458, USA

sea-level rise
Climate change
coastal plain.

Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Sections
Session: P
Location: Eyrie/Boise Centre
Date: Monday, July 28th, 2014
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: PBR002
Abstract ID:382
Candidate for Awards:None

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