CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Gymnoderma lineare

Photographer:
Michael Kunz

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Plant Profile

Gymnoderma lineare


Family: 
Cladoniaceae  
Common Name: 
rock gnome lichen
CPC Number: 
15829

Distribution
Protection
Conservation
References


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Gymnoderma lineareenlarge
Photographer: Michael Kunz
mkunz[at]unc.edu
Image Owner: Michael Kunz

Gymnoderma lineareenlarge
Photographer: Michael Kunz
mkunz[at]unc.edu
Image Owner: Michael Kunz


Gymnoderma lineare is Not Sponsored
Michael Kunz contributed to this Plant Profile.
The initial writing of this profile was funded by the U.S. Forest Service

 
Gymnoderma lineare


The rock gnome lichen is endemic to high elevations in the southern Appalachians and is the only North American member of the genus Gymnoderma. Gymnoderma lineare is found growing on rock faces in dense colonies usually less than one meter square in size. The species is recognized by the “straps,” or squamules, that protrude perpendicular to the rock face. The squamules are thin, blue-grey on top, white below and fade to black at the base. Black fruiting bodies may be found from July to September. However, the genetic identity of each colony is unknown and each may represent a single clone (Weakley, 1988). According to Hale (1979), G. lineare “is one of the most unusual, endemic lichens in North America.”

Distribution & Occurrence

State Range
  Georgia
North Carolina
South Carolina
Tennessee
State Range of  Gymnoderma lineare
Habitat
  Gymnoderma lineare is found growing on vertical rock faces mostly above 5,000 ft. in high humidity conditions: either at on high elevation cliffs and boulder filled drainages or in deep humid gorges. This lichen appears intolerant of high intensity solar radiation so prefers more open northern exposures or shaded western and southern exposures. Much of the is either mixed hardwoods at lower elevations and red spruce (Picea rubens)/Fraser fir (Abies fraserii) at high elevations.

Distribution
  The rock gnome lichen if found in a four state region of the southern Appalachians at high elevations.

Number Left
  Approximately 35 known populations extant (NatureServe, 2008; US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2001), 26 in NC, 1 in SC, 1 in GA, and 7 in Tn (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2001).

Protection

Global Rank:  
G2
 
2/25/2000
Guide to Global Ranks
Federal Status:  
LE
 
1/18/1995
Guide to Federal Status
Recovery Plan:  
Yes
 
9/30/1997

State/Area Protection
  State/Area Rank Status Date  
  GA S1 unknown  
  NC S2 Threatened  
  SC S1 unknown  
  TN S1 unknown  

Conservation, Ecology & Research

Ecological Relationships
  Rock gnome lichen is dependant on high humidity conditions especially in deep gorges and fog events at high elevations. Fraser fir and red spruce forests provide important microclimatic conditions and maintenance of these communities is critical for the long term survival of this species. Gymnoderma lineare is often associated with the moss Andreaea, which due to its color aides in finding the lichen colonies. Overall, there is very little known about the life history and ecology of G. lineare.

Threats
  • Loss of spruce/fir forests due to the exotic wooly adelgid. The loss of the trees changes the microclimate by altering desiccation and increasing temperature (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1997).
• Trampling by climber and hikers.
• Logging.
• Development and land use changes.
• Over collection.
• Pollution, especially the deposition of sulfer, and climate change.

Current Research Summary
  The effect of pollution on rock gnome lichen is inconclusive. However, colonies in poor health have higher levels of sulfur than healthy colonies suggesting sulfur deposition could pose threat to remaining populations (Martin et al, 1996). Samples from a NC population were sent by the North Carolina Botanical Garden to the National Center for Genetic Resource Preservation for long term storage and to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden for tissue culture research (M. Kunz, pers. comm. 2007).

Current Management Summary
  • Protection of populations on private lands.
• Limiting trampling on federal lands.
• Searching for additional populations.
• Very little in know about this species, so specific needs are difficult to determine.

Research Management Needs
  Detailed demographic studies are needed to increase our understanding the species biology. Also, ecological research including permanent plots to monitor biotic and abiotic factors should should be established. The effect of habitat change, climate change, logging and pollution on the populations needs to be established as well as criteria for self sustaining populations. The techniques for reestablishment also need to be determined.

Monitoring Efforts
  There is no formal monitoring program for this species at this time. However, the National Park Service and National Forest Service are measuring some populations.

Ex Situ Needs
  Maintain and expand ex situ (whole plant) holdings of G. lineare.

References

Books (Single Authors)

Hale, M. 1979. How to know the lichens, second edition.. Dubuque, IA. William C. Brown Company. 231p.

Electronic Sources

NatureServe. (2008). NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. [Internet].Version 7.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. http://www.natureserve.org/explorer. Accessed: (June 17, 2008).

Reports

Martin, J.; Noble, R.D. 1996. A quantitative study on ecological status and trends in an endangered lichen, Gymnoderma lineare (Evans) Yoshimura and Sharp.. Ashville, NC: p.30.

US Fish and Wildlife Service. 1995. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Gymnoderma lineare (rock gnome lichen) determined to be endangered. Federal Registry. 60: 11. p.3557-3562.

US Fish and Wildlife Service. 1997. Recovery Plan for Rock Gnome Lichen (Gymnoderma lineare). Atlanta, GA. p.45.

US Fish and Wildlife Service. 2000. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Determination of Weather Designation of Critical Habitat is Prudent for the Rock Gnome Lichen. Federal Registry. 66. p.18062-18068.

Weakley, A.S. 1988. Species account for Gymnoderma lineare. North Carolina Plant Conservation Program. Raleigh, NC. p.3.


  This profile was updated on 3/4/2010
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