Abstract Detail

Bryology and Lichenology

Glauser, Abby [1], Stanton, Daniel [2].

Small and mighty: estimating contributions of lichens and bryophytes to ecosystem services in Minnesota’s forests.

Lichens and bryophytes contribute to ecosystem function by influencing microclimate, hydrology, nutrient cycling, and by filtering pollutants from air and water. But how much do they actually matter, and do they matter everywhere? In this ambitious project, we seek to assess the extent of ecosystem services, such as water and pollutant retention, provided by lichens and bryophytes in Minnesota forests. To understand what impact these organisms have on ecosystems, the first challenges is simply knowing the amount of material, or biomass, that is present. Unfortunately, few studies in the literature have estimated epiphyte biomass, and those that have generally target only extremely high-biomass sites. This project targets all major forest types across the state, including a range of low to high cryptogam biomass, to provide a realistic representation of the Minnesota landscape. To do so, we sampled the cover of lichens and bryophytes from common forest types at three representative sites across the temperate-boreal ecotone, including the ground, tree trunks, and canopies. In each plot, percent cover and depth was measured in 24 ground quadrats, 48 tree boles quadrats, and the mass of lichens and bryophytes from tree litter in 12 microplots was measured to account for canopy epiphytes. Vouchers of all dominant species and/or functional groups were collected to measure water holding capacity, drying rates, and elemental composition. These measurements, combined with biomass estimates, allowed us to estimate the amount of water held by lichens and bryophytes in a given forest, and future analyses will offer elemental composition data. We hypothesize that, at sites where they are abundant, lichens and bryophytes will provide significant and previously unassessed benefits to Minnesota forests through water and pollutant retention. Preliminary results show that generally, most biomass occurs on the ground regardless of forest type, with greater biomass in lowland than upland forest types. Canopy and bole biomass also differ considerably across forest types, though greater biomass is found in the canopy than on boles. Water holding capacity varies in a similar pattern, and the ground layer holds anywhere from 50-3500 times the amount of water than epiphytes. To our knowledge, this is the first study to estimate total lichen and bryophyte biomass in multiple forest types, as well as across a state-wide climatic gradient. These data will help inform land managers and other stakeholders of the ecological value of lichens and bryophytes in the forests of Minnesota.

1 - University Of Minnesota, 1479 Gortner Avenue, 140 Gortner Laboratory, St. Paul, MN, 55108, United States
2 - University Of Minnesota, Ecology, Evolution And Behavior, 1479 Gortner Ave, Saint Paul, MN, 55108, United States

environmental gradient.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Number: 0010
Abstract ID:991
Candidate for Awards:None

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