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Cladonia appalachiensis Lendemer & R.C. Harris

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Scientific name
Cladonia appalachiensis
Lendemer & R.C. Harris
Common names
IUCN Specialist Group
Assessment status
Assessment date
IUCN Red List Category
IUCN Red List Criteria
Lendemer, J., Allen, J. & McMullin, T.
Yahr, R.

Assessment Notes

The content on this page is fetched from The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/80702853/80702858


This species warrants an Endangered status because the EOO is <100 km2 (12 km2), the AOO is <500 km2 (6 km2), there are fewer than five locations (three total), and a major decline has occurred within the past 100 years (40% inferred decrease).

Geographic range

Cladonia appalchensis only grows in a small portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where Anakeesta rock outcrops occur on the highest ridge dividing North Carolina and Tennessee. Extensive searches for this species outside of the national park did not result in the discovery of additional populations (Allen and Lendemer 2016).

Population and Trends

There are three documented locations of this species, all of which are known to be extant.  All populations are found within a very small area at high elevations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. No population monitoring has occurred or is currently being implemented. Two populations that were documented in the 1970's are now extirpated. There has also been observed decline in population sizes in sites frequently visited by tourists. In these areas, the species grows in highly sensitive cliff communities on rock outcrops directly adjacent to, and traversed by, established trails that are highly visited.

Population Trend: decreasing

Habitat and Ecology

Cladonia appalachensis only grows on high elevation Anakeesta rock, and iron-rich rock type, outcrops in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


Disruption of populations by visitors could pose a threat to localities in highly visited areas. Monitoring must be conducted to determine whether or not mechanical disruption is negatively impacting this species, in which case limitation of access or other forms of protection may be warranted. There is evidence of changes in cloud cover and humidity in high-elevation rock outcrops in the southern Appalachians (Cullata and Horton 2014), which could lead to declines in this species' abundance.

Conservation Actions

Monitoring Cladonia appalachensis is essential to ensure that visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are not negatively impacting this species. If they are impacting this species, signs to encourage people to stay on the path will be helpful. Additionally, a detailed population genetic study will help direct protection prioritization of individuals at each site.

Source and Citation

Lendemer, J., Allen, J. & McMullin, T. 2020. Cladonia appalachiensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T80702853A80702858. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-1.RLTS.T80702853A80702858.en .Accessed on 4 February 2024

Country occurrence