Effects of moisture dynamics on bryophyte carbon fluxes in a tropical cloud forest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Bryophytes play key roles in the ecological function of a number of major world biomes but remain understudied compared with vascular plants. Little is known about bryophyte responses to different aspects of predicted changes in moisture dynamics with climate change. In this study, CO 2 fluxes and photosynthetic light responses were measured within bryophyte mesocosms, being subjected to different amounts, frequencies, and types (mist or rainfall) of water addition, both before and after different periods of complete desiccation. Bryophyte carbon fluxes and photosynthetic light response were generally affected by the magnitude and type, but not frequency, of watering events. Desiccation suppressed bryophyte carbon uptake even after rehydration, and the degree of uptake suppression progressively increased with desiccation duration. Estimated ecosystem-level bryophyte respiration and net carbon uptake were c. 58% and c. 3%, respectively, of corresponding fluxes from tree foliage at the site. Our results suggest that a simplified representation of precipitation processes may be sufficient to accurately model bryophyte carbon cycling under future climate scenarios. Further, we find that projected increases in drought could have strong negative impacts on bryophyte and ecosystem carbon storage, with major consequences for a wide range of ecosystem processes.


External organisations
  • Umeå University
  • Lund University
  • Jönköping County Council
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Botany


  • ecophysiology, global change ecology, mesocosm experiment, photosynthesis, plant–climate interactions, rainfall frequency, respiration, tropical montane cloud forest
Original languageEnglish
JournalNew Phytologist
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2019 Feb 4
Publication categoryResearch