Ecology of bryophytes along altitudinal and latitudinal gradients in Chile

  • The bryophyte vegetation in twenty-eight hectare plots in forests of S-Chile between 38° and 42°S and sea level and the forest line has been studied. Since bryophytes are fully dependend on atmospheric water and nutrient supply, they are good indicators of ecological conditions, especially for humidity. Therefore cover of epiphytic bryophytes, percentage of hepatics, composition of life forms and phytomass of epiphytic bryophytes were used as parameters. Cover and phytomass of epiphytic bryophytes as well as percentage of hepatics show moderate values in the lowlands, peak values in the montane belt (400-800m) and low values in the high montane to subalpine forests. This zonation corresponds with the composition of life forms and is attributed to a higher humidity in the montane belt. Life forms characteristic for the lowlands and submontane belts are pendants, those for the montane belt are wefts and tails, and those for the high montane and and subalpine belts are mats and cushions. The same zonation is found in New Zealand at comparable latitudes. The altitudinal differences are much stronger than the latitudinal ones. Compared with similar transect studies in New Zealand, there is a comparable zonation based on bryphytes. The percentage of hepatics as a good indicator of humidity, is – both in Chile and New Zealand - higher in the transects along the coast with higher precipitation, lower in transects in the inland with less precipitation, and increasing with altitude. Compared with tropical rain forests, the “mossiness” of temperate rain forests expressed by phytomass of epiphytic bryophytes per hectare, cover and percentage of hepatics is comparable to tropical rain forests above 2000 m, which is the corresponding elevation with regard to the mean annual precipitation. In Chile, however, there is a distinct decrease of “mossiness” in the high montane and subalpine forests, which is attributed to special climatological conditions, whereas bryophytes reach maximum cover and phytomass in the tropical high montane and subalpine forests. A comparison with montane forests in Europe in 48°N reveal, that phytomass and percentage of hepatics is distinctly less than in the true rain forests of the southern hemisphere.

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Author:Jan-Peter FrahmGND
Parent Title (English):Tropical bryology
Publisher:D. Quandt, Univ. Bonn, Nees Inst. für Biodiversität d. Pflanzen
Place of publication:Bonn
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2002
Year of first Publication:2002
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2013/08/06
Page Number:13
First Page:67
Last Page:79
The layout of the electronic version of this contribution differs from the layout of the original version published in the printed volume.
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 58 Pflanzen (Botanik) / 580 Pflanzen (Botanik)
Sammlungen:Sammlung Biologie / Sondersammelgebiets-Volltexte
Zeitschriften / Jahresberichte:Tropical Bryology / Tropical Bryology, Volume 21 (2002)
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht