Bryophytes are promising indicators for detecting the impact of rapid global change. However, despite their great potential, they are still largely neglected, and their patterns across wide areas and environmental gradients are still poorly explored. Here we tested the capacity of bryophyte life-forms to respond to the main environmental and anthropogenic factors using an herbarium collection of high quality. The database consists of over 40,000 records referred to an Alpine area (Bolzano province, Northern Italy). The main aim of the work was to assess the relationship between bryophyte life-forms and different Corine Land Cover types which spans a wide
elevational gradient and land uses. Results showed a broad match between similar land cover types and lifeforms composition. For example, there was a positive relationship between plagiotropic forms and coniferous forests and between cushion- turf forms and natural grasslands. Anthropogenic habitats like vineyards and urban areas showed a high proportion of dendroid and thallose forms whereas plagiotropic species were underrepresented. Our results indicate that patterns of bryophyte life-forms are predictable across land cover types and altitude thus providing a direct link between the organism and the environmental conditions.
Full author list:
Daniel Spitale, Petra Mair & Juri Nascimbene