Vole Ears Lichen
Scientific Name: Erioderma mollissimum
Other/Previous Names: Vole Ears
Taxonomy Group: Lichens
COSEWIC Range: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: May 2021
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: B2ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: In Canada, this large foliose lichen currently only occurs in Nova Scotia, and on Newfoundland and Labrador’s Avalon Peninsula. It previously occurred in New Brunswick and in the United States, in Tennessee and North Carolina. The lichen can be found on Red Maple, Yellow Birch and Balsam Fir trees in forests that are humid and within 30 km of the ocean. The number of mature individuals in Canada is estimated to be < 2500 thalli based on data from observations of mature thalli in the field and the remaining amount of suitable habitat. A continuing decline in the population is likely as a result of the threats faced by this lichen which include climate change, air pollution, and habitat destruction from forest clearance and wood harvesting.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Endangered in November 2009. Status re-examined and confirmed in May 2021.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2012-06-20
Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.
Erioderma mollissimum is a foliose macrolichen with a felty, grey–brown upper surface. When wetted, it turns grey–green. The thallus is up to 12 cm broad and is comprised of radiating, loosely attached lobes to 1 cm in width. The lower surface lacks a cortex (outer protective layer), and except near the pale, bare margins is densely hairy and light–brown. Granular, bluish soredia (asexual propagules) are produced along the lobe margins and may also form in tiny patches on the upper surface of older lobes. The photosynthetic component of this lichen has been identified as Scytonema, a cyanobacterium that is rare in lichens occurring north of subtropical regions. E. mollissimum is part of a group of rare cyanolichens found only in humid coastal forests of eastern North America. The Canadian populations of E. mollissimum are disjunct from other populations in the world which have a mainly tropical/subtropical distribution. The group of cyanolichens to which E. mollissimum belongs are useful indicators of effects of acid precipitation and air pollution. (Updated 2017/06/15)
Distribution and Population
Erioderma mollissimum occurs mainly in montane tropical and subtropical cloud forests. Most of its known occurrences are in Central and South America, at elevations of 1600 to 3400 m. It occurs disjunctly in eastern North America, coastal southwestern Europe, and east Africa. In North America, it is known only in the Great Smoky Mountains (Tennessee and North Carolina), and in foggy, coastal areas of Atlantic Canada. (Updated 2017/06/15)
In Canada, Erioderma mollissimum occurs in cool, humid coastal coniferous forests dominated by Balsam Fir. Cool summers, relatively warm winters and high rainfall are characteristics of these forests. Peatland density is high in the coastal forests and E. mollissimum is often found close to these wetlands. E. mollissimum is found on trunks of Balsam Fir on the island of Newfoundland and on Balsam Fir, Red Maple and Yellow Birch in Nova Scotia. In New Brunswick, one thallus was found on moss–covered rock. (Updated 2017/06/15)
E. mollissimum is part of a group of lichens known as cyanolichens. Species of this group consist of a fungal partner and a cyanobacterium, which photosynthesizes and fixes atmospheric nitrogen. Apothecia (sexual reproductive structures containing ascospores) are extremely rare in North America. Reproduction is either through fragmentation or specialized structures called soredia. Lichen soredia are larger than ascospores and this limits dispersal. Dispersal is likely not more than hundreds of metres for E. mollissimum. Fragmentation provides dispersal, but only on the same host tree as the parent thalli. However, it may play a role in long–term persistence within sites. E. mollissimum requires a very humid environment to thrive and is sensitive to acid rain and other air pollutants. (Updated 2017/06/15)
Like other cyanolichens, E. mollissimum is extremely sensitive to air pollution and acid rain. Although acidifying pollutants in eastern North America are predicted to decline in the next 12 years, proposed developments in Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia may locally increase pollutants. Logging may limit available habitat and loss of forests from other developments is also occurring. Decreases in frequency of fog and herbivory by introduced slugs may also be a threat. (Updated 2017/06/15)
The Vole Ears Lichen is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.
Provincial and Territorial Protection
Status of Recovery Planning
Recovery Strategies :
Name Recovery Strategy for the Vole Ears Lichen (Erioderma mollissimum) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
15 record(s) found.
- COSEWIC Status Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Assessments (1 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (2 record(s) found.)
- Recovery Strategies (1 record(s) found.)
- Action Plans (2 record(s) found.)
- Orders (2 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Annual Reports (2 record(s) found.)
- Consultation Documents (2 record(s) found.)
- Critical Habitat Descriptions in the Canada Gazette (1 record(s) found.)
- Recovery Document Posting Plans (1 record(s) found.)
COSEWIC Status Reports
Response Statement - Vole Ears (2010-12-02)This large foliose lichen is known in Canada only from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the island of Newfoundland, where it inhabits cool, humid and coastal conifer forests dominated by Balsam Fir. Although there are 24 known sites for the lichen in these regions, few individuals (133 thalli) are known. While recent surveys have increased the number of known locations, the lichen has been extirpated from 11 sites in the last 30 years. This lichen is a sensitive indicator of air pollution and acid precipitation, which are its main threats. Other threats include forest harvest and browsing by moose.
Response Statement - Vole Ears Lichen (2022-01-10)In Canada, this large foliose lichen currently only occurs in Nova Scotia, and on Newfoundland and Labrador’s Avalon Peninsula. It previously occurred in New Brunswick and in the United States, in Tennessee and North Carolina. The lichen can be found on Red Maple, Yellow Birch and Balsam Fir trees in forests that are humid and within 30 km of the ocean. The number of mature individuals in Canada is estimated to be < 2500 thalli based on data from observations of mature thalli in the field and the remaining amount of suitable habitat. A continuing decline in the population is likely as a result of the threats faced by this lichen which include climate change, air pollution, and habitat destruction from forest clearance and wood harvesting.
COSEWIC Annual Reports
COSEWIC Annual Report - 2010 (2010-09-03)Under Canada’s Species At Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. During the past year, COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings and reviewed the status of 79 wildlife species (species, subspecies, populations). During the meeting of November 2009, COSEWIC assessed or reviewed the classification of the status of 28 wildlife species. COSEWIC assessed or reviewed the classification of an additional 51 wildlife species (species, subspecies and populations) during their April 2010 meeting. For species already found on Schedule 1 of SARA, the classification of 32 species was reviewed by COSEWIC and the status of the wildlife species was confirmed to be in the same category (extirpated - no longer found in the wild in Canada but occurring elsewhere, endangered, threatened or of special concern). The wildlife species assessment results for the 2009-2010 reporting period include the following: Extirpated: 6 Endangered: 39 Threatened: 16 Special Concern: 17 Data Deficient: 1 This report transmits to the Minister the status of 46 species newly classified as extirpated, endangered, threatened or of special concern, fulfilling COSEWIC’s obligations under SARA Section 24 and 25. A full detailed summary of the assessment for each species and the reason for the designation can be found in Appendix I of the attached report. Since its inception, COSEWIC has assessed 602 wildlife species in various risk categories, including 262 Endangered, 151 Threatened, 166 Special Concern and 23 Extirpated. In addition, 13 wildlife species have been assessed as Extinct. Also, to date, 46 wildlife species have been identified by COSEWIC as Data Deficient and 166 wildlife species were assessed as Not at Risk. This year has been a particularly productive year for COSEWIC’s Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge (ATK) Subcommittee. In April 2010 COSEWIC approved the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Process and Protocol Guidelines, providing clear and agreed principles for the gathering of Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge to carry out COSEWIC functions as required under Section 15(2) of SARA (See Appendix III of the attached report). We are grateful for the rich and enthusiastic contribution made by community elders and experts in helping the ATK Subcommittee prepare the ATK protocols.
COSEWIC Annual Report 2020 to 2021 (2021-10-12)Over the past year COSEWIC assessed a total of 66 wildlife species, of which 4 were assigned a status of Not at Risk. Of these 66, COSEWIC re-examined the status of 41 wildlife species; of these, 80% were reassessed at the same or lower level of risk. To date and with the submission of this report, COSEWIC’s assessments now include 826 wildlife species in various risk categories including 369 Endangered, 196 Threatened, 239 Special Concern, and 22 Extirpated (i.e. no longer found in the wild in Canada). In addition, 19 wildlife species have been assessed as Extinct, 62 wildlife species have been designated as Data Deficient, and 202 have been assessed as Not at Risk.