Ground-layer bryophyte communities of post-adelgid picea-abies forests

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Spruce-fir forests of the southern Appalachians are threatened by the widespread death of Abies fraseri (Fraser Fir) caused by the exotic Adelges piceae (Balsam Woolly Adelgid). Subsequent canopy opening, due to decimation of the fir population, has likely affected ground-layer dynamics and diversity. We sampled bryophytes on 60 randomly selected plots within the spruce-fir zone of Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) using the line-intercept method (total sampling distance of 1800 m). Our sampling revealed 97 bryophyte species (64 mosses and 33 liverworts) comprising 32 families and 60 genera on ground-layer substrates in spruce-fir forests. Our results suggest that upwards of 20% of the bryoflora of GSMNP can be found on ground-level substrates in the spruce-fir zone.

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Southeastern Naturalist