Date: Fri, 28 Nov 2008 16:53:02 -0800
From: David Wagner <email@example.com>
I will argue that Dr. Andrus' claiming Sphagnum fuscum as the World's
most important bryophyte is actually a meaningless challenge. Unlike
biggest, longest, or widest, there is no objective standard by which
importance can be determined on a world wide basis. Although Andrus
defines importance by carbon fixation, that is not the only criterion
that might be considered important. An entomologist might define
importance as a bryophyte that harbors the greatest diversity of
invertebrates, or feeds the greatest biomass of invertebrates.
Even when considering carbon fixation, primary fixation may not be the
best measure of importance. Here northwestern North America are the
most productive forests in the world, the old growth conifer rain
forests. The ongoing productivity of these forests is dependent on
cyanolichens providing a constant input of fixed nitrogen and the
mosses which scavenge micronutrients out of the rainfall. If the whole
world were occupied with a temperate rainforest like ours, it would be
not difficult to make a case for Antitrichia curtipendula (the
dominant canopy moss) being the most important bryophyte in the world.
Without Antitrichia and Isothecium, the carbon fixation of these
forests would be sharply restricted. Sphagnum fuscum is simply not
important in this ecosystem.
I think I could make a more confident nomination of the world's most
beautiful bryophyte. I have some candidate images to present. This
might address the request of Rajendra Lavate, at least a little bit.
What we need is a central web site to host the nominees. Maybe the IAB
David H. Wagner, Ph.D.
Northwest Botanical Institute
P.O. Box 30064
Eugene, OR 97403-1064