We explored lichen species richness and patterns of lichen succession on rough barked Nothofagus cunninghamii trees and on smooth barked Atherosperma moschatum trees in cool temperate rainforests in Victoria, Australia. Nothofagus cunninghamii trees from the Yarra Ranges, and A. moschatum trees from Errinundra were ranked into size classes (small, medium, large and extra-large), and differences in species richness and composition were compared between size classes for each tree species. Nothofagus cunninghamii supported a rich lichen flora (108 trees, 52 lichen species), with the largest trees supporting a significantly higher number of species, including many uncommon species. This success was attributed to varying bark texture, stand characteristics and microhabitat variations as the trees age. Atherosperma moschatum supported a comparable number of species (120 trees, 54 lichen species). Indeed on average, this host supported more lichen species than N. cunninghamii. However, successional patterns with increasing girth were not as clear for A. moschatum, possibly due to the more stable microclimate that this smooth barked host provided. Victorian cool temperate rainforests exist primarily as small, often isolated pockets within a sea of Eucalypt-dominated, fire-prone forest. Many are regenerating from past disturbance. We find that protection of Victoria's oldest rainforest pockets is crucial, as they represent sources of rare, potentially threatened lichen species, and may be acting as reservoirs for propagules for nearby ageing rainforests. Indeed, even single, large old trees have conservation importance, as they may provide exceptional microhabitats, not found elsewhere in the regenerating rainforest environment. Copyright © 2010 British Lichen Society.
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