Bryophyte abundance, composition and importance to woody plant recruitment in natural and restoration forests

Forest Ecology and Management
By: , and 



Restoration of tropical forests can lead to enhanced ecosystem services and increases in native biodiversity. Bryophytes may be an integral part of the forest restoration process and can serve a critical role in forest functioning. However, the recovery of bryophytes and their ability to facilitate woody plant establishment during restoration remains poorly studied, especially in the tropics. We investigate how bryophyte abundance and community composition, as well as woody plant seedling associations with bryophyte mats and other ground cover types change from under the canopy of intact forest to under trees in restoration corridor plantings in Hawaii. Restoration corridors consisted of corridors of koa (Acacia koa) trees that were planted roughly 30 years ago. Some corridors were planted around remnant ʻōhiʻa trees (Metrosideros polymorpha) that can be several hundred years old. We sampled under ʻōhiʻa in intact forest and both koa and ʻōhiʻa trees in restoration corridors. In restoration corridors, bryophyte abundance was low relative to intact forest and species diversity was a subset of that found in intact forest despite restoration corridors being several decades old. Seedlings strongly associated with bryophytes across all habitats suggesting that bryophytes may significantly enhance forest seedling establishment when present in restoration corridors. Other ground cover types like woody litter and nurse logs also had a positive association with forest seedlings but were rare in restoration corridors. Grass remained a dominant ground cover type in restoration corridors under koa and remnant ʻōhiʻa trees and only a single seedling was ever found growing in this grass. Enhancing bryophyte growth and recovery within restoration plantings through the reduction of grass cover could facilitate native plant establishment.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Bryophyte abundance, composition and importance to woody plant recruitment in natural and restoration forests
Series title Forest Ecology and Management
DOI 10.1016/j.foreco.2019.04.055
Volume 444
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center
Description 9 p.
First page 405
Last page 413
Country United States
State Hawaii
Other Geospatial Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge
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