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Ecological Studies on Growth-Form in Bryophytes: I. Correlations Between Growth-Form and Habitat

C. H. Gimingham and Evelyn M. Birse
Journal of Ecology
Vol. 45, No. 2 (Jul., 1957), pp. 533-545
DOI: 10.2307/2256934
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2256934
Page Count: 13
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Ecological Studies on Growth-Form in Bryophytes: I. Correlations Between Growth-Form and Habitat
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Abstract

The present paper forms an introduction to a short series reporting research into the factors determining growth-form in bryophytes, and its ecological significance. Existing information regarding correlations between growth-form and habitat, and the analysis of bryophytic community structure according to growth-form representation, are discussed. The scheme of classification of growth-form types adopted for the present investigations, an amended version of that proposed by Gimingham and Robertson (1950), is set out in full. An intensive study of the distribution of species of various growth-forms in a wooded sub-maritime ravine is reported, and demonstrates correlations between certain forms and habitats. In particular, gradients in habitat conditions and changes in the habitat are shown to be associated with gradients and changes in growth-form representation. The substratum has a selective influence on growth-form representation: Rough Mats, Smooth Mats and Dendroid forms are here largely restricted to rocks, although there is a greater variety of forms on the soil. Within these two substratum groups, growth-form distribution reflects gradients in the moisture and light factors. As relative humidity decreases in conjunction with increasing light intensity, the following sequence in zonation is observed: Dendroid forms and Thalloid Mats; Rough Mats; Smooth Mats; Short Turfs and Small Cushions. A similar type of sequence is found to characterize the successional changes taking place in a felled area. Fairly distinct zonation is also apparent on the rock faces bordering the stream and rivulets running through the ravine. Here, the Smooth Mat form, which is prevalent even where submerged in mid-summer, is replaced upwards by successive belts of Rough Mat, Thalloid Mat and Dendroid form, as the distance from water increases. These variations show correlations both with moisture gradients and with fluctuations in the water level.

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