The effects of bark quality on corticolous lichen community composition in urban parks of southern Ontario


Tree bark characteristics influence lichen colonization. To better understand how urban parks can be managed to maximize lichen biodiversity, we examined trees in seven parks throughout the City of Guelph in southern Ontario. We measured bark characteristics and lichen communities on four common tree species that have a wide range of pH: Acer platanoides L., Acer × freemanii E. Murray, Pinus resinosa Aiton, and Pinus strobes L. We recorded the lichen species on 99 trees, calculated the pH and fissuring of the bark, and determined the diameter at breast height (DBH) as a proxy for age. Gamma diversity on all trees included 18 lichen taxa. We used graphite bark rubbings analyzed in ImageJ 1.47v to calculate the degree of bark fissuring. We collected bark samples from each tree trunk and determined the acidity with a pH meter. Using multivariate analyses we show that lichen community composition is positively correlated with DBH and tree species, but the degree of fissuring did not have a significant effect. We could not statistically analyze pH independent of tree species, but our results suggest pH is not a significant variable. We show lichen biodiversity in urban parks can be increased by planting a variety of tree species at different ages.