Boch, S., Martins, A., Ruas, S., Fontinha, S., Carvalho, P., Reis, F., Bergamini, A. & Sim-Sim, M. (2019) Bryophyte and macrolichen diversity show contrasting altitude relationships and are negatively affected by disturbances in laurel forests of Madeira.Journal of Vegetation Science, Accepted, . DOI:10.1111/jvs.12802 (IF2018 2,944; Q1 Plant Sciences)
Studies on bryophyte and lichen diversity patterns along elevational gradients are scarce, although this approach can serve as space‐for‐time substitution to predict diversity changes because of climate warming. Therefore, we investigated bryophytes and macrolichens in disturbed and undisturbed stands along an elevational gradient in the unique laurel forest of Madeira island by addressing the following questions: (1) How does the species richness of functional‐taxonomic bryophyte and macrolichen groups differ with elevation? (2) How is the species richness of these groups affected by disturbances?
UNESCO World Natural Heritage site laurel forest of Madeira island (Madeira, Portugal).
We analyzed species richness of bryophytes and macrolichens in 92 plots in response to elevation and to disturbances.
Bryophytes species richness showed a mid‐elevational peak, while macrolichen richness was increasing with elevation. Disturbed plots harbored on average 20% less bryophyte and macrolichen species than undisturbed plots.
The laurel forest of Madeira is a bryophyte and lichen diversity hotspot. Our findings indicate future biodiversity threats by changing environmental conditions. This calls for the need of a strict protection status for the laurel forest on Madeira to minimize human‐related disturbances, the development of management measures that could mitigate climate change effects by maximizing habitat suitability and for the implementation of species‐conservation programs to prevent future extinctions, in particular of endemic species.