Dispersal of bryophytes across landscapes

University dissertation from Stockholm : Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University

Abstract: Dispersal, especially long-distance dispersal, is an important component in many disciplines within biology. Many species are passively dispersed by wind, not least spore-dispersed organisms.In this thesis I investigated the dispersal capacity of bryophytes by studying the colonization patterns from local scales (100 m) to landscape scales (20 km). The dispersal distances were measured from a known source (up to 600 m away) or inferred from a connectivity measure (1–20 km). I introduced acidic clay to measure the colonization rates over one season of a pioneer moss, Discelium nudum (I–III). I also investigated which vascular plants and bryophytes that had colonized limed mires approximately 20–30 years after the first disturbance (IV).Discelium effectively colonized new disturbed substrates over one season. Most spores were deposited up to 50 meters from a source but the relationship between local colonization rates and connectivity increased with distance up to 20 km (I–III). Also calcicolous wetland bryophyte species were good colonizers over similar distances, while vascular plants in the same environment colonized less frequently. Common bryophytes that produce spores frequently were more effective colonizers, while no effect of spore size was detected (IV). A mechanistic model that take into account meteorological parameters to simulate the trajectories for spores of Discelium nudum fitted rather well to the observed colonization pattern, especially if spore release thresholds in wind variation and humidity were accounted for (III).This thesis conclude that bryophytes in open habitats can disperse effectively across landscapes given that the regional spore source is large enough (i.e. are common in the region and produce spores abundantly). For spore-dispersed organisms in open landscapes I suggest that it is often the colonization phase and not the transport that is the main bottle-neck for maintaining populations across landscapes.