Section for Forest, Nature and Biomass – University of Copenhagen

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Hanne Marie Ellegård Larsen

Hanne Marie Ellegård Larsen

PhD fellow

My Ph.D. study is about Bark Ecology with focus on corticolous lichens.


The tree bark constitutes a very important part of the physiological functions of the tree. The bark is responsible for the downward transport of carbohydrates from the crown to the roots and act as a chemical defense against attack from fungi and insects. In addition, the bark takes part in storage of water, nutrients and carbon dioxide.


The bark surface constitutes a habitat for many different organisms for instance smaller animals, insects, fungi, algae, bryophytes and epiphytes including corticolous lichens. A lichen consists of a fungus and an alga living in a symbiosis. Via photosynthesis, the alga produces carbohydrates to the fungus while the fungus creates a protective environment for the alga.


In literature, most lichen studies mainly have focused on lichen communities at the lowermost two meters of the tree stem, as this part of the tree is easily accessible. In this study, focus will be on lichen communities from the stem base to the top of the tree.


Hence, the aim of the study is to identify the main determining factors for the occurrence and distribution of corticolous lichens along the whole tree stem of seven different Danish angiosperm tree species (Fraxinus excelsior, Betula pendula, Quercus robur, Fagus sylvatica, Tilia cordata, Acer pseudoplatanus and Alnus glutinosa).


Factors like the chemical composition of the bark, microclimatic conditions around the tree stem and the bark water holding capacity may play a role in the presence or absence of different corticolous lichen species.

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