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As a botanist/mycologist/lichenologist it's not often I set foot (tarsus?) in this forum, but I was admiring the photographs of the Merveille du Jour moth at http://www.ispotnature.org/node/376400
The poster (orchid_b) mentioned the lichens the moth was on, and I added a comment on their identity. But this set me thinking:
a) the patterning on the Merveille du Jour was a remarkable match to the lichen it was resting on (Parmelia sulcata). So much so that I wonder if it preferentially rests on this common species?
b) if it does preferentially rest on Parmelia saxatilis, is it now being affected by the spread of nitrogen-tolerant lichen species, notably the bright orange Xanthoria parietina? Over substantial parts of lowland Britain, Xanthoria is ousting other lichens, the spread being attributed to nitrogen/ammonium compounds in agrochemicals and traffic fumes.
While still generally common, there can be little doubt that Parmelia sulcata is now much rarer in many urban and agricultural locations. This might suggest that moths dependent on resting on this and other green-grey lichens are losing available resting places?
The situation will not be clear cut, as some nitrophilous lichens are green-grey, but the general loss of background seems likely.
A quick look at the mapped distribution of the Merveille du Jour on the awful new version of the NBN suggests it is recorded over much of the area where Xanthoria has spread, suggesting it might be a suitable species to study for any distributional change.
Or has all this been done?
Posting in ignorance and now creeping out again,