The Mediterranean-type ecosystems are areas of high levels of endemism. Over 20% of known vascular plants worldwide occur in these ecosystems, but little is known about the diversity of bryophytes (liverworts, hornworts, and mosses). The purpose of this trip was to make an exploratory survey of bryophytes in the coast, valley, and mountain area in Central Chile in order to define sites for future research. There, I met a Chilean bryologist who helped me to recognize the bryo-flora of Chile in the field. Surprisingly, we observed a tremendous taxon diversity of these small plants in different vascular plant communities that are a common component of the Mediterranean Chilean ecosystem (i.e. spiny matorral forest, palm forest, sclerophyllous forest, coast matorral, and deciduous forest). Since bryophytes have a high sensibility and dependence to the surrounding environment, it seems they also possess particular traits that will determine what conditions can they tolerate and what resources need to live in the different forests in the Mediterranean climate. These observations would help me to investigate more about the natural history of these small plants and their particular adaptations to living in this enriched Mediterranean ecosystem.
August 27, 2016