Climate change and warming is expected to have major impacts on alpine and arctic ecosystems. Alatalo et al. describe the effects of 18 years of ambient and experimental warming, with total mean annual temperature increase of 2°C, on lichens in two alpine plant communities.
Lichen cover increased in heath under ambient conditions, but remained stable under experimental warming. Species richness and effective number of species decreased under experimental warming in meadow environments. Lichen community parameters were all negatively correlated with plant canopy cover. These long-term data show that both biotic and abiotic factors modify the impacts of climate change on lichens.