Original paper

Life form and life strategy analyses of the epiphytic bryophyte communities of Madeira's laurel and ericaceous forests

Kürschner, Harald; Stech, Michael; Sim-Sim, Manuela; Fontinha, Susana; Frey, Wolfgang


Madeira — part of the Macaronesian Islands and situated in the Atlantic Ocean — harbours a rich epiphytic bryophyte flora. A life form and life strategy analysis of these epiphytes of the Madeiran laurel forest and ericaceous woodland, heath land and thickets clearly indicate the strong influence of the ecological site conditions on species and communities. The humid and shady associations, typical for undisturbed laurel forests are dominated by mat and fan forming perennial stayers and perennial shuttle species with a moderately low sexual and asexual reproductive effort ('passive' species). By contrast, tall turf and short turf forming perennial stayers and perennial shuttle species with high sexual reproductive effort ('generative' species) are concentrated in the associations of the ericaceous woodland with their xeric and sunny site conditions. This distributional pattern is correlated with spore size and a different dispersal strategy within the associations, indicating common 'life syndromes' or 'functional types'. The results are compared with the situation on Tenerife and tropical rain forest areas outlining the common adaptive trends and prevailing 'life syndromes'.


bryophytesfunctional typeslaurel forestlife syndromesmacaronesiamadeira