Groups of lichen species are often associated together in a consistent way, forming recognisable "communities". The study of such communities (gnerally termed "phytosociology") and their use in survey work has not become established (in Britain at least) to the same extent as for vascular plant communities (vis the National Vegetation Classification, NVC). However, in the same way as the NVC, lichen communities do provide a useful shorthand for discussing relationships and distributions, and potentially a tool for prioritising conservation action (for example, the Lobarion pulmonariae community - often shortened to "The Lobarion" - is officially listed as a conservation priority in Wales).
In the accepted terminology, top-level communities are referred to as alliances and have names based on their most dominant or characteristic constituent species, ending in "-ion" (as in the Lobarion example above). Sometimes alliances are further sub-divided into associations, with names ending in "-etum". For example, the Xanthorion parietinae alliance includes the associations Buellietum punctiformis and Parmelietum carporrhizantis.
Lichen Communities in the British Isles
In 1977 a major review volume of "Lichen Ecology" was published by Academic Press, under the editorship of Mark Seaward of Bradford University. This included a landmark paper by Peter James, David Hawksworth and Francis Rose entitled "Lichen Communities in the British Isles: A Preliminary Conspectus". This has become classic and much cited source and still has much relevance today. The "Lichen Ecology" volume has never been re-published and is increasingly difficult to obtain, but we have obtained permission from the publishers (now Elsevier), the editor and the surviving authors to make a PDF version of the Lichen Communities paper for download.
Full citation: Reprinted with permission from James,P.W., Hawksworth,D.L. & Rose, F. (1977) Lichen communities in the British Isles: a preliminary conspectus. In: Lichen Ecology (ed. M.R.D.Seaward): 295-413. Academic Press, London.
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Saxicolous Lichen and Bryophyte Communities in Upland Britain
This major study published in 2009, was undertaken by Alan Orange of the National Museum of Wales and funded by the statutory conservation agencies of Wales, Scotland and England. Its aim was to improve our knowledge of the lichen and bryophyte communities of rock habitats in upland Great Britain, with particular regard to certain habitats, which have importance in nature conservation legislation. The work had the following main objectives:
To describe the lower plant assemblages of Annex I rock habitats in selected sites,which are Special Areas of Conservation (SACs).
To provide a preliminary classification of the lower plant communities of rockhabitats in upland Britain (excluding freshwater habitats).
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