Morillas, L., Roales, J., Cruz, C. & Munzi, S. (2022) Non-toxic increases in nitrogen availability can improve the ability of the soil lichen Cladonia rangiferina to cope with environmental changes.Journal of Fungi, 8(4), 333. DOI:10.3390/jof8040333 (IF2021 5,724; Q1 Mycology)
Lichens are classified into different functional groups depending on their ecological and physiological response to a given environmental stressor. However, knowledge on lichen response to the synergistic effect of multiple environmental factors is extremely scarce, although vital to get a comprehensive understanding of the effects of global change. We exposed six lichen species belonging to different functional groups to the combined effects of two nitrogen (N) doses and direct sunlight involving both high temperatures and ultraviolet (UV) radiation for 58 days. Irrespective of their functional group, all species showed a homogenous response to N with cumulative, detrimental effects and an inability to recover following sunlight, UV exposure. Moreover, solar radiation made a tolerant species more prone to N pollution’s effects. Our results draw attention to the combined effects of global change and other environmental drivers on canopy defoliation and tree death, with consequences for the protection of ecosystems.