Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chairperson

Greg Turner, PhD.

Committee Member

Sharon Began, PhD.

Committee Member

John Pisciotta, PhD.


Ground lichens colonize disturbed soils as pioneer biota, often due to plant removal, but can be replaced successionally by woody plants, like shrubs. Succession may lead to abiotic and biotic changes that impact ground lichens and facilitate their decline as ground cover through effects on morphology, photosynthetic activity, and reproduction as they are overtopped by plants. To understand how the presence of shrubs may influence the community structure of terricolous fruticose lichens in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, a field study was carried out to assess species composition and differences in microclimate abiotic variables in shrub covered and open canopy microsites. Abiotic variables did not differ significantly between microsites. Cladonia subtenuis (Dixie Reindeer Lichen) was found to be the most common species among all sites and was used in a second study to compare morphology, reproduction, and photosynthetic properties between sites. Dry biomass, number of apothecia, and chlorophyll content were compared between C. subtenuis collected from shrub covered and open canopy microsites. Results from the second study revealed a significant difference between dry biomass, number of apothecia, and chlorophyll content of C. subtenuis collected from adjacent microsites.