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Why Are Mosses Eaten in Cold Environments Only?

Herbert H. Th. Prins
Oikos
Vol. 38, No. 3 (May, 1982), pp. 374-380
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos
DOI: 10.2307/3544680
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3544680
Page Count: 7
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Why Are Mosses Eaten in Cold Environments Only?
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Abstract

In most regions of the world mosses are not grazed by herbivorous mammals or birds, because these plants have a high concentration of lignin-like compounds, which results in a low digestibility. But, contrary to the general accepted idea that mosses are non-food items, it appears that they are eaten by a variety of vertebrates in cold environments. A possible cause for this consumption can be found in the high concentration of arachidonic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid not found in higher plants. One of the presumed effects of this fatty acid is affording the animals a better protection against the cold.

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