Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 545-553

First online:

Patterns of bryophyte diversity and rarity at a regional scale

  • Alain Vanderpoorten
  • , Patrick Engels

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Information on bryophyte diversity and rarity were combined withinformation on soil conditions and land use for Walloon Brabant (centralBelgium, 1091 km2) in order to investigate whichlandscape features sustain the most rare and diverse species assemblages.Presence–absence of 325 bryophyte species was recorded in 87 grid-squaresof 4 × 4 km. Species diversity was significantly correlatedwith forest cover (r = 0.71, P <0.001), sandy soils (r = 0.61, P <0.001), loamy soils, (r = −0.68,P < 0.001), and agricultural fields(r = −0.49, P < 0.001). Themost diverse grid-squares possessed up to 182 species and were characterized byat least 10% forest cover and the presence of unique micro-habitats.Grid-squares with forest cover reaching at least 10% but lacking uniquemicro-habitats contained between 90 and 130 species. Below 10% forest cover,diversity ranged between 55 and 110 species per grid-square. However, even theleast diverse cultivated areas included a significant amount of the regionallyrare species. A number of the latter are characteristic in other areas forspecific primary habitats lacking in Walloon Brabant but display an unexpectedability to disperse throughout hostile areas and colonize secondary habitats.The tendency of such species to occur in man-made habitats decreased our abilityto predict species richness and rarity from landscape features and soilconditions.

Bryophytes Prediction Species distribution Species diversity Species rarity