Species Richness of Epiphytic Lichens in a Forest Over Limestone of Sikyop, Iligan City, Philippines
Franchesca Claire L. Vega1,* and Ma. Reina Suzette B. Madamba1
1Department of Biological Sciences, College of Science and Mathematics, Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, A. Bonifacio Avenue, Iligan City 9200 Philippines
Epiphytic lichens serve as bio-indicators of air pollution and have various potential applications such as in medicine. However, research on lichens, particularly in the Philippines, is limited. This study aimed to establish a baseline for the species richness of epiphytic lichens in Sikyop, Iligan City, Philippines. The research covered five sampling sites, sampling 100 living trees and identifying a total of 24 species from 17 genera and 12 families. The families Graphidaceae and Arthoniaceae had the highest species richness. Sunlight availability was assumed to be the primary factor influencing the species richness of epiphytic lichens. The agricultural site and campsite exhibited greater species richness due to favorable sunlight exposure. Most lichens observed had a crustose growth form, which is typical for lower elevations like Sikyop. Statistical analysis showed significant differences in lichen individuals observed among the diameter at breast height (DBH) classes of trees, suggesting an influence of DBH on lichen observations. However, this relationship was not solely linear, indicating habitat-specific preferences of epiphytic lichens. Other factors such as microclimate, moisture, and substrate availability likely play significant roles in lichen distribution and abundance. Future research should explore the ecological requirements and preferences of epiphytic lichens, as their diversity serves as an indicator of both air quality and the overall health of forest ecosystems.