Harald Kürschner; Wolfgang Frey:

Liverworts, Mosses and Hornworts of Southwest Asia (Marchantiophyta, Bryophyta, Anthocerotophyta)

A systematic treatise with keys to genera and species occurring in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sinai Peninsula, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen (inc. Socotra Island)

2011. 240 pages, 9 figures, 1 table, 17x24cm, 610 g
Language: English

(Nova Hedwigia, Beihefte, Beih. 139)

ISBN 978-3-443-51061-9, paperback, price: 108.00 €

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bryophyte flora Southwest Asia moss hornwort


Synopsis top ↑

This bryophyte flora of Southwest Asia is the first comprehensive, structured synthesis of the current knowledge available on the liverworts, mosses and hornworts of this region. The area covers Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sinai Peninsula, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen (incl. Socotra Island), summarized to a great extent as 'Asia 5' in the 'Index Muscorum'. In total, 1193 taxa (229 liverworts, 959 mosses, 5 hornworts) and nearly 2000 names and synonyms were treated in the dichotomous keys presented, including annotations to critical, doubtful or erroneously recorded species. 14 taxa represent new country/regional records and are listed together with their collecting data in a separate paragraph.

The book includes all bryophytes known to date within the large and geomorphologically varied area. Many of the species are important initial colonizers of bare rocks, crusts and soil surfaces of steppes and deserts of this region and therefore forerunners in vascular plant colonization and succession. Because they serve as indicators of ecological disturbances and air quality, their knowledge is of fundamental importance for understanding phytodiversity and ecosystem evolution.

This flora provides users with an up to date tool for at least a preliminary identification of any bryophyte in the area and may stimulate and promote greater interest in this often neglected or overlooked plant group.

The flora is recommended to all botanists and ecologists, interested in bryophyte flora and vegetation, biodiversity, and nature conservation.

Review: Plant Diversity and Resources 34(2):150, 2012 top ↑

The geographical region of Southwest Asia covers 16 countries and regions, i. e. Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sinai Peninsula, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen (including Socotra Island). Most part of this region is generally a harsh and dry place which is unfavorable for bryophytes. Although the general diversity is low, some groups remain quite diverse and unique, for example, taxa of Pottiaceae and Grimmiaceae.

Compared to other regions of Asia, Southwest Asia has received less study, except for the countries of Turkey and Israel, in terms of bryophyte flora. This book, Liverworts, Mosses and Hornworts of Southwest Asia (Marchantiophyta, Bryophyta, Anthocerotophyta), is the first comprehensive and update account of the bryophyte flora of this region. Totally, 1, 182 taxa (229 liverworts, 948 mosses, and 5 hornworts) were recognized, of which, 14 taxa were reported as new country records. About 2,000 names and synonyms were treated in total.

The book is a summary based on a series of identification keys published by the first author from 2001 to 2008 (Kürschner 2001, 2006, 2007, 2008). The arrangement of families largely follows the system of Frey & Stech (2009). This book consists of different kinds of keys from phyla to species, and the first key is of the suprafamilial taxa. The main body of the book is divided into three parts, Marchantiophyta (liverworts), Bryophyta (mosses), and Anthocerotophyta (hornworts). Each part supplies a conspectus of classification (only taxa occurring in Southwest Asia) first, followed by keys to classes, orders, families, genera and species. In each family, only one key is supplied, combining genera and species. Under each species, the abbreviations for the distributional range (within this region) are also added. In addition, annotations to critical, doubtful or erroneously recorded taxa are supplied.

The keys work well for most of taxa. Unfortunately, for the big families, such as Pottiaceae, the keys are long and complicated. If they had been divided into several smaller keys, for example, keys to subfamilies, they would be much more friendly to the users.

The book will be useful not only for the workers from Southwest Asia but also for those in adjacent regions, including northwestern China (including the provinces of Xizang and Xinjiang), western India, and T 俟rkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. In addition, this book will be a good reference for comparing the floristic affinities between Southwest Asia and other regions.

Dr. Zhang Li, Fairy Lake Botanical Garden, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China

Plant Diversity and Resources 34(2):150, 2012

Bespr.: Herzogia 25 (1), 2012 top ↑

Das Buch stellt die erste umfassende Bestimmungsflora der Moose Südwest-Asiens dar. Das bearbeitete Gebiet umfasst Afghanistan, Bahrain, Irak, Iran, Israel, Jordanien, Kuwait, Libanon, Oman, Katar, Saudi-Arabien, die Sinai-Halbinsel, Syrien, die Türkei, die Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate und Jemen (incl. Sokotra).

Das Buch enthält zunächst einige Einführungskapitel zur Umgrenzung des Bearbeitungsgebietes, zur Systematik, zur Anzahl der Arten und zu Endemiten. Aus dem Gebiet werden 1182 Taxa (229 Lebermoose, 948 Laubmoose, 5 Hornmoose) angegeben. Aus der auf S. 9 abgedruckten Tabelle der Länder- bzw. Regionennachweise geht hervor, dass die Türkei mit 934 Taxa besonders artenreich ist. An nächster Stelle folgt der Iran mit 498 Arten. Überhaupt keine Moose sind bislang aus Bahrain und Katar bekannt. Bei 65 Taxa des Gebietes handelt es sich um Endemiten. In einem separaten Kapitel werden 14 neue Länder- oder Regionennachweise aufgeführt, die bislang noch nicht anderweitig publiziert worden sind.

Den Hauptteil des Buches nehmen dichotome Bestimmungsschlüssel aller aus der Region bekannter Moose ein. Zu jeder behandelten Art werden innerhalb der Schlüssel Angaben zu den Standortsansprüchen und zur Verbreitung in Südwest-Asien nach Ländern bzw. Regionen aufgeführt. Bei vielen Arten werden als „Notes“ spezielle Hinweise zu kritischen bzw. infraspezifischen Sippen, taxonomischen Problemen und sonstige Bemerkungen angeführt, die sehr wertvolle Informationen liefern.

Den Band beschließen ein umfangreiches Literaturverzeichnis und ein Register der behandelten Taxa.

Die Schlüssel sind sehr gründlich bearbeitet und dürften in den meisten Fällen, eine gewisse Grundkenntnis morphologischer Merkmale vorausgesetzt, eine sichere Bestimmung von in der Region gesammelten Moosen ermöglichen. Für den an der Moosflora Mitteleuropas Interessierten liefert das Buch Hinweise zur Bestimmung von diversen südlichen oder östlichen Moosen, die im Mitteleuropa den Rand ihres Areals besitzen und in Südwest-Asien häufiger vertreten sind. So dürften insbesondere die Schlüssel der Pottiaceae viele wichtige Hinweise für den in Mitteleuropa tätigen Bryologen geben.

Das Buch sei allen an der Moosflora von Südwest-Asien interessierten Bryologen wärmstens empfohlen.

Frank Müller (Dresden)

Herzogia 25 (1), 2012

Review: Journal of Bryology vol. 34 no. 2, 2012 top ↑

Southwest Asia is defined in the present work as all the land east of the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas to Afghanistan in the east, including the Sinai and Arabian Peninsulas and Socotra Island. This region is also known as the Near East, ‘Vorderer Orient’, Levant or Asia Minor and it essentially covers Asia 5 of Index Muscorum. Bryologically, southwest Asia is still poorly and unevenly studied, although its exploration began relatively early. The first note on mosses from the Arabian Peninsula appeared in 1775, in the report from the Danish expedition of Per Forska° l to ‘Arabia Felix’. Information on the bryoflora of southwest Asia has increased markedly since the middle of the nineteenth century thanks to the contributions of P. G. Lorentz, J. Juratzka, J. Milde, A. Geheeb, V. Schiffner, J. Baumgartner and others who studied bryophytes collected by the various travelers and explorers of this region. Nonetheless, so far the only more or less complete regional bryophyte floras in the Near East are those from Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula, Israel and Socotra. All the historical bryofloristic data for each country of southwest Asia, up to 1990, were summarized by the authors of the present work (Frey & Ku¨rschner, 1991). In 1977, they published the first bryological account addressing the bryophyte flora and vegetation of northern Iran, and during the subsequent 34 years they have continued regular studies of the bryoflora in various countries of the Near East. The results were presented in numerous publications, including a long and well known series ‘Studies on Arabian bryophytes’ which consisted of no fewer than 26 accounts published between 1982 and 2000. They yielded a wealth of taxonomic and phytogeographical information on hornworts, liverworts and mosses, including numerous new country records and discoveries of a number of species new to science.

The present publication is a synthesis of all the knowledge on the bryophytes of southwest Asia which was accumulated by the authors and other researchers in herbaria and published accounts. Alas, this is not a classical descriptive flora but only a detailed key for the determination of all the taxa of hepatics, mosses and hornworts recorded in this region.

The treatment starts with a key to phyla, classes and subclasses whilst the body of the book consists of keys to taxa below the rank of subclass. The descriptions of families, genera, species and infraspecific taxa are included in the extended couplets of the keys which are organized at several levels of the taxonomic hierarchy.

In the case of liverworts 2 which are greatly diversified morphologically, separate keys to genera, species, subspecies and varieties are organized within families, except for the Marchantiidae in which families and lower taxa are keyed out within two orders, Marchantiales and Ricciales. The keys to genera and species of mosses are preceded by a general key to acro- and cladocarpous mosses which are contrasted to pleurocarps. This is followed by the keys to families within these groups. Each division of bryophytes is preceded by a conspectus of classifications which is adopted from the 13th edition of Engler’s Syllabus der Pflanzenfamilien (Frey, 2009). In many cases, couplets dealing with taxa are accompanied by taxonomic and phytogeographical notes.

The illustrative material is scanty and intended to depict variation of morphological and anatomical structures, rather than to present portraits of some exemplary species. Hence, only various details of some 45 species of moss and about 60 taxa of liverworts are illustrated with line drawings taken from various sources and assembled in eight plates which should help users, especially those having less advanced knowledge of bryophytes, in the use of the keys.

The area covered by the treatment is exceedingly diverse geologically, climatically and geographically. Generally, it is very difficult for both bryologists and bryophytes. Southwest Asia has a very complex political, social, religious and economic history and some of its regions are politically unstable and overwhelmed with wars and various conflicts, making bryologizing dangerous. Moreover, huge expanses of this territory are occupied by deserts and dry steppes and this is reflected in the composition of the bryoflora.

In general terms the bryophyte flora of southwest Asia is rich because it totals 1193 species including 959 species of moss, 229 liverworts and five hornworts. (There are some inconsistencies in the total number of moss species because, in the table on p. 9 some 948 species are given, whereas on the back cover a total of 959 species is mentioned. This discrepancy is apparently the result of the inclusion of 10 species of orthotrichalean mosses which are listed in ‘Addenda’ on p. 218. They were reported from Turkey (Lara et al., 2010) when the present work was in press. However, this still leaves one taxon unaccounted for.)

In practice the total number of species is of minor importance because a good number of varieties and some species accepted by the authors still need careful taxonomic assessment. The same also applies to a number of records of otherwise distinct species which were recorded from the study area but for which the voucher specimens have not been located and reexamined by the authors. A good number of them are listed at the end of treatments of particular families as doubtful and/or excluded species but these enumerations do not seem to be exhaustive. For example, the occurrence of Seligeria tristichoides, Bucklandiella elliptica, Timmia megapolitana, Encalypta microstoma, Drepanocladus capillifolius, Platyhypnidium lusitanicum, Sciuro-hypnum latifolium, Pogonatum neesii and P. inflexum in Turkey is very dubious, as are the cases of Physcomitrium immersum and Entosthodon planoconvexus in the Sinai Peninsula, Bryhnia novae-angliae, Stereophyllum wightii and Ectropothecium cyperoides in Iran, Conardia compacta in Israel, and Hygroamblystegium fluviatile subsp. noterophilum in Afganistan.

Particular countries of the Near and Middle East differ markedly in their bryodiversities. It is not only an effect of the local environmental conditions and availability of suitable habitats for bryophytes, but primarily a result of the fact that very few of these countries have active resident bryologists. Turkey clearly has the richest bryoflora, which consists of 944 taxa, but it has a quite large group of bryologists at several universities who actively study the local bryoflora and closely cooperate with various bryological centres in Europe. At the other extreme are Qatar and Bahrain from which no taxa of moss and liverwort have as yet been recorded 2 even of the family Pottiaceae whose members are usually considered as mosses of harsh environments. Areas with arid climates predominate in southwest Asia and this family is represented regionally by 198 taxa and, together with the Grimmiaceae, which consist of 69 taxa, constitute well over one quarter of the total bryoflora.

The present treatment is an excellent starting point for further bryological exploration of southwest Asia. It should serve as a basic source for determination of bryophytes and it is an excellent tool of education for resident bryologists. Without training local students of bryophytes, and encouraging their exploratory activity, it will be difficult to achieve a satisfactory level of knowledge of the bryoflora in this region.

Ryszard Ochyra, Institute of Botany, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków, Poland

Journal of Bryology vol. 34 no. 2, 2012

Table of Contents top ↑

Abstract 6
Introduction 6
Geographical boundaries of Southwest Asia 7
Systematic treatise 8
Number of taxa and endemics 9
New country records 12
Key to the suprafamilial taxa of bryophytes of Southwest Asia 14
Marchantiophyta 17
Conspectus of classification of the Marchantiophyta 17
Class: Blasiopsida 18
Class: Marchantiopsida 18
Class: Fossombroniopsida 32
Class: Pallaviciniopsida 34
Class: Pelliopsida 34
Class: Jungermanniopsida 34
Bryophyta 61
Conspectus of classification of the Bryophyta 61
Class: Sphagnopsida 62
Class: Andreaeopsida 65
Class: Tetraphidopsida 65
Class: Polytrichopsida 66
Class: Bryopsida 69
Key to the acro-, clado- and pleurocarpous mosses of Southwest Asia 69
Key to the acro- and cladocarpous mosses of Southwest Asia 69
Key to the pleurocarpous mosses of Southwest Asia 173
Anthocerotophyta 217
Conspectus of classification of the Anthocerotophyta 217
Key to the Anthocerotophyta of Southwest Asia 217
Addenda 218
Acknowledgements 218
References 219
Index of Taxa 225