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Ecological Studies on Growth-Form in Bryophytes: III. The Relationship Between the Growth-Form of Mosses and Ground-Water Supply

Evelyn M. Birse
Journal of Ecology
Vol. 46, No. 1 (Mar., 1958), pp. 9-27
DOI: 10.2307/2256900
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2256900
Page Count: 20
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Ecological Studies on Growth-Form in Bryophytes: III. The Relationship Between the Growth-Form of Mosses and Ground-Water Supply
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Abstract

1. It has been found that in the dune slack selected, the distribution of moss growth-forms is correlated with the ground-water supply: (a) Tall Turfs with branches erect, Short Turfs, Rough and Smooth Mats in their typical development, are found where they are never within reach of the water table. (b) Wefts and Dendroid forms are luxuriant where the surface sand receives an additional supply of water from this source, during spring but not in summer. (c) Where the water table is constantly near the surface, Tall Turfs with divergent branches of limited growth and Tall Turfs (rhizoidal) are found and some Wefts (Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus) in slightly drier localities. (d) Wefts are most characteristic of fairly freely drained areas of intermediate moisture, less wet in winter and spring than the conditions where the Dendroid form is dominant. 2. The distribution of species can be related to the variations in other habitat factors such as surface soil pH, humus content, and submergence: (a) pH ranges between 5.22 and 6.62 and is apparently highest where Tortula ruraliformis, Mnium punctatum, Rhacomitrium canescens and Barbula cylindrica are abundant. (b) Where the sand contains little humus, the chief species are Hypnum cupressiforme var. lacunosum, Tortula ruraliformis and Rhacomitrium canescens. (c) Of the most prevalent species in the dune slack, the following survived a four-month period of experimental submergence in a fairly healthy condition: Ceratodon purpureus (t), Campylium stellatum (Td), Bryum pseudotriquetrum (Trh), Fissidens adianthoides (Td), Climacium dendroides (D). These species are liable in the field to long periods of complete or partial submergence. Transplants in the dune slack also suggest that C. dendroides has a wide tolerance of soil moisture conditions and of submergence; species representing Wefts and Tall Turfs with erect branches are adversely affected by submergence or high water tables for long periods; the Tall Turf with divergent limited branches suffered on removal from the direct influence of a high water table. 3. Changes in moss moisture throughout a year at any given site are related to the changing sand moisture, both being determined very largely by the behaviour of the water table. 4. With a constant ground-water supply for seven months, in exposed out-of-door cultural conditions, species of a variety of growth-forms remained more or less flourishing, including especially, Tall Turf (rhizoidal), Tall Turf with divergent limited branches, Dendroid and others; whereas in the absence of a ground-water supply only Short Turfs, Rough Mats, and a Dendroid species (Climacium dendroides), survived.

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