The advantage of growing on moss: facilitative effects on photosynthetic performance and growth in the cyanobacterial lichen Peltigera rufescens

Claudia Colesie*, Sarah Scheu, T. G. Allan Green, Bettina Weber, Rainer Wirth, Burkhard Buedel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Facilitative effects and plant-plant interactions are well known for higher plants, but there is a lack of information about their relevance in cryptogams. Additional information about facilitative effects between bryophytes and lichens would be an important contribution to recent research on positive plant-plant interactions, as these can have striking influences not only on the organisation of early successional terrestrial communities but also on succession dynamics by kick-starting ecosystem development through the import of key nutrients. We investigated and quantified these mechanisms between Peltigera rufescens and its associated mosses. Moss-associated thalli had a different morphology that led to several benefits from the association. They had 66% higher net photosynthetic rate and, because the majority of the gas exchange of lichen thalli took place through the lower surface, there was a further increase as the CO2 concentration was > 25% higher beneath moss-associated thalli. Microclimatic measurements showed that mean light levels were substantially lower and temperature extremes slightly ameliorated for moss-associated thalli. As a consequence, desiccation was slower which is, together with an increase in thallus thickness and water storage, the reason for extended periods of optimal net photosynthesis for the moss-associated thalli. All these benefits combined to produce a growth rate of the moss-associated thalli which was significantly higher, twice that of non-associated thalli [0.75 +/- A 0.4 vs. 0.30 +/- A 0.1 mm/month (mean +/- A SD)]. This appears to be the first demonstration of a strong mechanistic basis for facilitative effects between lichens and bryophytes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599-607
Number of pages9
JournalOecologia
Volume169
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012

Keywords

  • Association
  • Ecosystem functioning
  • Ecophysiology
  • CO2 exchange
  • Plant interactions
  • CARBON-DIOXIDE EXCHANGE
  • BIOLOGICAL SOIL CRUSTS
  • CO2 CONCENTRATION
  • PRIMARY SUCCESSION
  • VASCULAR PLANTS
  • NEGEV DESERT
  • COMMUNITIES
  • PRODUCTIVITY
  • PATTERNS
  • MOISTURE

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