The distribution of lichen species in upland regions of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, is investigated along a landuse gradient from natural forest to intensive agriculture. Quantitative data on lichen communities on saxicolous, epiphytic and terricolous substrata were collected from 16 hectares in one km2 in each landuse type. Multivariate analyses, NMDS and Cluster analysis were used to identify lichen communities associated with environmental factors including landuse, substratum type and age. The epiphytic community of native pinewoods was distinguished from all others by the highest species richness, the presence of indicators of ecological continuity and the absence of nitrophytes, while the epiphytic communities of farmland were distinguished by absence of acidophytes and a high contribution of nitrophytes. Plantations of conifers were distinguished by low species richness and an increase in tolerant species. Saxicolous communities were frequent on walls in all sites except native pinewood, where saxicolous substrata were rare. Intensively farmed sites were distinguished by an increase in percentage contribution of nitrophytes. The high acidophyte contribution in all sites suggests that crustose species of acid rocks may not respond rapidly to an increase in applied nitrogen. In landscapes where tree cover is sparse or non-existent combined assessment of habitat diversity and nitrophyte indicator species can be used to assess changes associated with agricultural intensification.
- Species richness