Philip Bell-Doyon, Université Laval and Troy McMullin, Canadian Museum of Nature.
Calicioids are a diverse group of tiny, pin-like lichens and fungi that thrive in highly specialized microhabitats such as deep bark crevices, dry old snags, and, incredibly, on other calicioids. Many are restricted to old-growth forests.
As old-growth forests become increasingly scarce, so are the organisms that rely on them. Few areas of southern Québec are still untouched by the timber industry, but those that remain likely host unique biodiversity including, as we discovered, remarkable calicioid communities.
Our study site is called Ya’nienhonhndeh by the Huron-Wendat First Nation, which means “where we find medicinal plants”, and extends over 400 km2. In total, we identified 34 calicioid species, many of which are rare, including three that had never previously been reported in Québec.
This is a story of how tiny lichens and fungi (the calicioids) help to highlight the high conservation value of intact forest ecosystems. It is also a reminder that there are still many organisms in the boreal forest that we know very little about, and others that we may never know about if we allow their last refuges to be cut down.
Read more about calicioids here:
Bell-Doyon, P., S.B. Selva, and T.R. McMullin. 2021. Calicioid fungi and lichens from an unprotected intact forest ecosystem in Québec. Écoscience. Early Access. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/11956860.2021.1885804