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Epiphyte Ecology
Monitoring Change
Species Discovery

Dr Brian Coppins
Ms Sally Eaton
Dr Christopher Ellis
Ms Louise Olley
Dr Rebecca Yahr

Research Projects




Our research investigating lichen epiphytes is particularly focussed on indicator species. These are partitioned into three groups:

1. Indicators based around the classification and recognition of epiphyte communities [1], and which respond to environmental drivers at multiple scales, from large-scale climatic to small-scale microhabitat gradients (Figure 1).

2. Indicator species associated with climates that are globally-restricted but well represented in Scotland. These species in highly oceanic and temperate rainforest systems are often extremely rare internationally but locally abundant with large populations in Scotland.

3. Species which appear to be associated with woodlands that have old-growth properties [2,3], characterised by the long temporal continuity of specialist niches.

Key Resources

Figure 1. Indicator species for the Epiphyte Community 'Type O' [cf. 1], Bryoria fuscescens and Ochrolechia microstictioides, on pine at Rothiemurchas Estate in Strathspey.


[1] Ellis, C.J., Eaton, S., Theodoropoulos, M. & Elliott, K. (2015) Epiphyte Communities and Indicator Species. An Ecological Guide for Scotland's Woodlands. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. ISBN: 978-1-910877-01-2.

[2] Ellis, C.J. (2015) Ancient woodland indicators signal the climate change risk for dispersal-limited species. Ecological Indicators, 53: 106-114.

[3] Whittet, R.R. & Ellis, C.J. (2013) Critical tests for lichen indicators of woodland ecological continuity. Biological Conservation, 168: 19-23.