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Oberlin College

Publication Date

Fall 2023

Program Name

Panama: Tropical Ecology, Marine Ecosystems, and Biodiversity Conservation


Bryophyta sensu stricto, colloquially known as moss, is often found growing epiphytically in cloud forest ecosystems. Under these conditions, moss may fulfill a secondary foundational species (FS) role, supporting increased habitat for other organisms while remaining dependent on the primary FS host tree. Exploring the dual relationship of moss as both a dependent and supportive organism allows for better understanding of its connective role within ecosystems. Research in the cloud forests of El Valle de Anton focused on relative abundance, environmental surroundings, morphology, and microclimate of mosses to offer baseline data on these connections. Mosses along four different trails within cloud forest environments in El Valle de Anton were found to have a variety of morphological characteristics, coverage, and thickness, indicating high variability in growth patterns depending on environmental factors. Water capacity and retention were found to be consistent and considerable. Local temperature and humidity within tested moss mats were reliably distinct from and less variable than environmental temperature and humidity. Moss mats were shown to maintain a distinct and unique microecosystem, as supported by hygrometric data. By surveying the connective role of mosses within ecosystems and as ecosystems, the functionality of secondary FS organisms is better understood in under-researched cloud rainforest environments.


Botany | Forest Biology | Latin American Studies | Plant Biology | Research Methods in Life Sciences


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