Island Biodiversity, Biogeography & Conservation - IBBC

“Island’ Bryophytes: Ecology and Diversity”

The “Island Bryophytes: Ecology and Diversity Group” includes one senior researcher, two Ph.D. students and a grant holder. Additional help is often provided by young researchers attracted to bryophytes and former M.Sc. and Ph.D. students. The research activities of the group focus on the study of Ecology and Diversity of Azorean bryophytes. Bryophytes (including mosses, liverworts and hornworts) are one of the most diverse and interesting taxonomic groups existing in the Azores. Due to their high dispersal ability, bryophytes have similar richness across the archipelagos of Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands! Although the Azores represent only a small fraction of the European territory (0,02%!), the islands include about a quarter of all European species (25,5%), some of them included in the European Red List of Bryophytes. All these species are not only beautiful to behold [in the words of John H. Bland (1970): … strength is mingled with humility, gentleness and charm, with elemental essence, reflecting the gladness of wind, sun and rain.] but they are excellent ecological and physiological models, providing an original contribution to knowledge and science.

Four questions direct the ongoing research:

- How many species are there in the Azores? What is their distribution across the islands?

- What is the role of bryophytes on ecosystem services?

- Which species could be used as accurate indicators of global change (climatic & land-use)? and

- How to improve nature conservation strategies in order to preserve the biodiversity of bryophytes?

The IBED group works to improve the knowledge on:

  1. the inventory of bryophytes (and lichens) in the Azores and all aspects of taxonomic and functional diversity;
  2. the distribution of bryophytes (and lichens) in the Azores, using a spatial scale of 500 m x 500 m (or lower);
  3. the quantification of ecosystem services performed by bryophytes (e.g. water holding capacity and carbon sink);
  4. the characterization of the responses of bryophytes to increased environmental stresses;
  5. some macroecological patterns in islands (e.g. SADs, SARs, local-regional, diversity estimation) using bryophytes as model organisms