Rocha, B., Pinho, P, Vieira, J., Branquinho, C. & Matos, P. (2019) Testing the poleotolerance lichen response trait as an indicator of anthropic disturbance in an urban environment.Diversity, 11(4), 55. DOI:10.3390/d11040055 (IF2019 1,402; Q3 Ecology)
Urban environments are densely populated areas buzzing with a wide range of anthropic activities that cause disturbances like air pollution or the heat island effect, threatening both human and environmental health. Mitigating its impacts implies understanding the integrated effects that those disturbances exert on urban environments. Lichen biodiversity is frequently used as an ecological indicator, being able to integrate its effects in a quantifiable way. The poleotolerance response trait classifies lichens according to their tolerance to human disturbance, but it was developed for Italy’s flora and has seldom been applied outside Italy or in urban context studies. The aim of this work was to assess this trait suitability as an indicator of urban anthropic disturbance and test it outside Italy. For that, we sampled lichen diversity in 41 green spaces in Lisbon. Lichens were classified into the respective poleotolerance trait functional groups and their community weighted mean related with three type of environmental variables used as surrogates of urban disturbance. We showed that disturbance-tolerant functional groups could be used as an ecological indicator of the integrated effects of environmental disturbances. Some species were clearly misclassified, so we propose reclassification for those. Natural and seminatural functional groups did not behave as expected. Nevertheless, disturbance-tolerant functional groups have the potential to be used in in other Southern European cities.