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Proc Biol Sci. 2019 Jan 30;286(1895):20182284. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2018.2284.

Bryophyte stable isotope composition, diversity and biomass define tropical montane cloud forest extent.

Author information

1
1 Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge , Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EA , UK.
2
2 Biological and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling , Stirling FK9 4LA , UK.
3
3 Herbario Vargas (CUZ), Universidad Nacional de San Antonio Abad del Cusco , Cusco , Peru.
4
4 Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Federal de Uberlândia , Uberlândia, MG , Brazil.
5
5 Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute , PO Box 0843-03092, Balboa, Ancon, Panama , Republic of Panama.
6
6 Department of Biology, Wake Forest University , Winston-Salem, NC 27106 , USA.
7
7 Harvard Forest, Harvard University , 324 North Main St, Petersham, MA 01366 , USA.
8
8 Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford , Oxford , UK.
9
9 San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research , 15600 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido, CA 92027 , USA.
10
10 Aarhus University , Aarhus , Denmark.

Abstract

Liverworts and mosses are a major component of the epiphyte flora of tropical montane forest ecosystems. Canopy access was used to analyse the distribution and vertical stratification of bryophyte epiphytes within tree crowns at nine forest sites across a 3400 m elevational gradient in Peru, from the Amazonian basin to the high Andes. The stable isotope compositions of bryophyte organic material (13C/12C and 18O/16O) are associated with surface water diffusive limitations and, along with C/N content, provide a generic index for the extent of cloud immersion. From lowland to cloud forest δ13C increased from -33‰ to -27‰, while δ18O increased from 16.3‰ to 18.0‰. Epiphytic bryophyte and associated canopy soil biomass in the cloud immersion zone was estimated at up to 45 t dry mass ha-1, and overall water holding capacity was equivalent to a 20 mm precipitation event. The study emphasizes the importance of diverse bryophyte communities in sequestering carbon in threatened habitats, with stable isotope analysis allowing future elevational shifts in the cloud base associated with changes in climate to be tracked.

KEYWORDS:

Amazonia; Peruvian Andes; climate change; liverworts; tropical montane cloud forest; δ13C

PMID:
30963945
PMCID:
PMC6364587
[Available on 2020-01-30]
DOI:
10.1098/rspb.2018.2284

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