Permanent Lichen Biomonitoring Sites in CATO
The Catoctin Mountain
Park is 5,810 acres of hardwood forest lying within the
Blue Ridge Mountain Province. Extensively logged in the 18th and 19th
centuries, the area has steadily recovered since it was originally set
aside in 1933. It became a National Park in 1954 when the Catoctin
Project created the Cunningham Falls State Park and the Catoctin
National Park. The Catoctin forest is a mid-latitude deciduous forest
dominated generally by oak-hickory-tulip poplar stands, with mixed oaks
on drier ridge tops and floodplain species such as elms, birches and
sycamore near streams. The western portion of the park has deeper,
richer, and moister soils that support sugar maple, basswood,
white ash, beech, and tulip poplar. Lichens are found commonly
throughout the Park on tree bark, rocks and soil surfaces.
In 2004, 25 permanent lichen biomonitoring sites were located in 1 km2 grids within the park, and a baseline sampling for lichen floristic and elemental data was done. At each location, abundance of tree-inhabiting macrolichens was recorded and a specimen of the common lichen Flavoparmelia caperata was collected for elemental analysis.
communities in CATO are typical of the northern Blue Ridge Mountains.
Dominant species include Flavoparmelia caperata (the species used in
elemental analysis), Punctelia rudecta, P. subrudecta, Myelochroa
aurulenta, Physcia millegrana, and Phaeophyscia rubropulchra
(especially at tree bases). None of these species is especially
sensitive to air pollution; of the species identified in the study, the
cyanolichens Leptogium cyanescens and Collema furfuraceum are most
sensitive to pollution. Species not commonly found elsewhere in NCR
parks are Flavopunctelia soredica, a western species found in western
Maryland,and Allocetraria oakesiana, a northeastern species found at
high elevations in western Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.
in samples of F. caperata collected in CATO are similar to those of
other NCR parks (except PRWI). There are published studies (using
Flavoparmelia baltimorensis as the test species) suggesting increases
in S concentration with elevation (Lawrey and Hale 1988), but this does
not seem to be the case in CATO.