Introduction

Lichens have been observed to respond rapidly to climate change. So far, the changes are as expected with a rather rapid increase of (sub)tropical species in temperate areas, and a gradual decrease of some boreo-alpine elements [1]. So far, comparatively few publications have addressed the issue of lichens in connection with global warming [2]. No lichens have, so far, been reported to be seriously threatened by climate change. Marked shifts in occurrence and distribution have been predicted based on known habitat preferences and projected climate change [3].

Lichens, like most cryptogams, tend to be widespread, much more so than phanerogams or land animals. Also, many of the species seem to be capable of rather rapid dispersal, as shown by the recent arrival of some (sub)tropical species in a temperate area [1].

In this chapter, predicted, observed and uncertain effects related to lichen and climate change are discussed together with the habitats of vulnerable lichens, with special attention to mountain tops in the tropics the most likely place for possible extinction of lichens as a result of global warming.

Climate Change: Observed Impacts on Planet Earth

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