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COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Boreal Felt Lichen in Canada

Special Significance of the Species

This “Panda Bear” amongst the lichens (Dr. Teuvo Ahti, in litt.) -- a nickname which E. pedicellatum deserves from the conservation point of view -- is a symbol of nature's rapidly vanishing treasures, in the boreal forest. The complexity of its life cycle, which depends upon the foliose hepatic Frullania as a cyanobacterial donor, is unique among lichens. The species Erioderma pedicellatum has challenged us to improve our understanding of this particular ancient symbiotic life form whose fungal partner is assumed to have evolved through hybridization of two chemically distinct taxa in the north-west corner of South America on the ancient land mass of Gondwana.

The persistence of this lichen throughout hundreds of million years is sharply contrasted by its having been brought to near extinction, within the past 10-20 years, with the notable exception of two core populations from Newfoundland that have remained viable for the time being.

In addition, E. pedicellatum, perhaps more than any other lichen species, can signify changes in local air quality. It has been given the highest rank on the relative scale of sensitivities of cyanophilic lichens towards air pollution, together with species belonging to the genus Lichinodium.