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The ecology and conservation of bryophytes in Tasmanian wet eucalypt forest

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posted on 2023-05-27, 19:44 authored by Perpetua TurnerPerpetua Turner
The aim of this study was to determine the factors that affect bryophyte richness and species composition in wet eucalypt forest, including old growth and forest disturbed by wildfire or silvicultural practice. Approximately one third of the total bryophyte flora for Tasmania was recorded in old growth mixed forest, with more liverwort than moss species found. Bryophyte species composition was significantly different between groups of sites of forest from the northwest, central and southern areas of the state. Mean annual temperature, altitude, rainfall of the driest month and aspect were most significant in predicting variation in bryophyte species composition. The use of vascular plants as surrogates for the conservation of bryophyte species was examined. Vascular plant and fern species richness were significant but poor predictors of bryophyte species richness. A minimum set of 31 sites reserved all vascular species and a large percentage (82.9%) of bryophyte species at least once. Thus, reserves selected using vascular plants are likely to reserve a large proportion of bryophyte species. The reserve sets included more sites of regenerating forest than old growth forest indicating the importance for conservation of multi-aged wet eucalypt forest. Many species preferentially occurred on a substrate type within a particular forest age class. The bryophyte species composition on old growth Nothofagus cunninghamii and Atherosperma moschatum trees were significantly dissimilar to a large number of other substrate/age class groups. Consistent with previous literature, bark type affected species composition. Comparisons of bryophytes in sites disturbed by wildfire and logging found four moss species occurred more frequently in logging than wildfire regeneration, whereas six of the seven bryophytes species that occurred more frequently after wildfire than logging disturbance were liverworts. Overall, little difference in bryophyte and vascular species composition was found between logging and wildfire regeneration. When sites were separated into regions, bryophyte species composition differed between logging and wildfire only in the forests of central Tasmania, where Eucalyptus regnans is dominant. Successional stages of bryophytes species occurrence after disturbance were documented. Species occurring frequently in primary succession did not survive into later successional stages. Many species that established in post-primary successional forest persisted into late successional forest. Liverwort species dominated in late successional forest. The exclusive occurrence of the epiphytic mosses Neckera pennata and Calyptopogon mnioides in regenerating forest is strongly associated with the presence of Pomaderris apetala and Acacia dealbata trees.

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