Spotlight on Bryophytes
The Centre de Données sur le Patrimoine Naturel du Québec (Québec CDC) has issued a new report on the state of bryophytes in the province. Les bryophytes rares du Québec. Espèces prioritaires pour la conservation (Québec’s Rare Bryophytes: Priority Species for Conservation) presents the rarest bryophyte species (hornworts, liverworts, and mosses) in Québec, those with a SH or S1 rank according to natural heritage methodology. These are species at greatest risk, from a conservation standpoint.
The report identifies 182 taxa, representing 22% of the province’s bryological flora. Initially derived from taxa that were infrequently collected, this list was completed with information from recent inventories and more specific field research. Synthesized information is presented for each species, regarding its habitat, distribution, and threat level along with a drawing and a photograph. The most up-to-date nomenclature is presented for each species along with synonymy; a summary portrait synthesizing all treated species is included as well.
Interestingly, the report shows that more rare bryophytes occur in the northern part of the province, reflecting a southern peripheral distribution pattern for several species. This is particularly true for several liverwort taxa confined to Québec’s far north. Moreover, 70% of Québec’s rare bryophytes species occur in open environments and several of those are associated with acidic substrates.
Using NatureServe’s global and national ranking system, the vast majority of Québec’s rare bryophytes are at risk at the Canadian level, whereas only 38 of them can be considered as such at the global level. By cross-referencing this data with those from Québec’s protected areas network, one notes that more than 80% of rare bryophyte species are located within a protected area, sheltering over a third of rare bryophytes species occurrences.
The objective of this work was first and foremost to improve the knowledge of bryophytes in Québec, an overlooked group of organisms. This represents Québec’s first effort to identify bryophyte species requiring protection. As a next step, these rare species will be added to the provincial list of threatened or vulnerable plant species, under Québec’s Threatened or Vulnerable Species Act.
As we near the end of the International Year of Biodiversity, this publication marks the province’s ongoing efforts to further knowledge and facilitate conservation activities that may be necessary. The preparation of this volume provided an opportunity to assemble data that is now available for additional portraits and analyses. Québec CDC hopes dissemination of this information will attract stakeholder interest in bryophytes, which have long been neglected even though they covers vast areas in habitats like bogs and spruce-moss forests.
Read the report (in French).