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Identifying indicator species for bryophyte conservation in fragmented forests

, : Identifying indicator species for bryophyte conservation in fragmented forests. Landscape and Ecological Engineering

It is important to conserve bryophyte diversity in fragmented forests, due to the vulnerability of this group to environmental change. In this study, the utility of bryophyte functional groups (taxonomic classes, substrate classes, and life-forms) was examined as indicators for planning urban area conservation of bryophyte diversity. The study sites comprised 27 fragmented forests in Kyoto City, Japan. Using linear regression models, it was found that the species richness of almost all functional groups was positively correlated with patch size. Furthermore, two types of bryophyte life-form (fans and thalloid mats) were significantly correlated with environmental factors considered important for conservation planning. The species richness of fan bryophytes was positively correlated with the presence of natural forest patches and was negatively correlated with distance from mountainous areas. Similarly, the species richness of thalloid mat bryophytes was negatively correlated with maintenance practices. These results may be explained by the vulnerability of these two bryophyte groups to environmentally caused drought stress, accompanied by decreasing patch size, maintenance practices, disturbance, and/or loss of natural vegetation. Considering that drought stress represents a major threat to bryophyte diversity in fragmented forests, the species richness of hygrophilous life-forms (e.g., fans and thalloid mats) may be used as an indicator of fragmented forests that are less affected by drought stress, and these species should be preferentially conserved to maintain high levels of bryophyte diversity.


DOI: 10.1007/s11355-013-0220-0

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