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      Bryophyte stable isotope composition, diversity and biomass define tropical montane cloud forest extent

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          Abstract

          Liverworts and mosses are a major component of the epiphyte flora of tropical montane forest ecosystems. Canopy access was used to analyse the distribution and vertical stratification of bryophyte epiphytes within tree crowns at nine forest sites across a 3400 m elevational gradient in Peru, from the Amazonian basin to the high Andes. The stable isotope compositions of bryophyte organic material ( 13C/ 12C and 18O/ 16O) are associated with surface water diffusive limitations and, along with C/N content, provide a generic index for the extent of cloud immersion. From lowland to cloud forest δ 13C increased from −33‰ to −27‰, while δ 18O increased from 16.3‰ to 18.0‰. Epiphytic bryophyte and associated canopy soil biomass in the cloud immersion zone was estimated at up to 45 t dry mass ha −1, and overall water holding capacity was equivalent to a 20 mm precipitation event. The study emphasizes the importance of diverse bryophyte communities in sequestering carbon in threatened habitats, with stable isotope analysis allowing future elevational shifts in the cloud base associated with changes in climate to be tracked.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Proc Biol Sci
          Proc. Biol. Sci
          RSPB
          royprsb
          Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
          The Royal Society
          0962-8452
          1471-2954
          30 January 2019
          23 January 2019
          : 286
          : 1895
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge , Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EA, UK
          [2 ] Biological and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling , Stirling FK9 4LA, UK
          [3 ] Herbario Vargas (CUZ), Universidad Nacional de San Antonio Abad del Cusco , Cusco, Peru
          [4 ] Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Federal de Uberlândia , Uberlândia, MG, Brazil
          [5 ] Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute , PO Box 0843-03092, Balboa, Ancon, Panama, Republic of Panama
          [6 ] Department of Biology, Wake Forest University , Winston-Salem, NC 27106, USA
          [7 ] Harvard Forest, Harvard University , 324 North Main St, Petersham, MA 01366, USA
          [8 ] Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford , Oxford, UK
          [9 ] San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research , 15600 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido, CA 92027, USA
          [10 ] Aarhus University , Aarhus, Denmark
          Author notes
          [†]

          These authors contributed equally to this work.

          Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.4365674.

          Article
          PMC6364587 PMC6364587 6364587 rspb20182284
          10.1098/rspb.2018.2284
          6364587
          30963945
          © 2019 The Author(s)

          Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

          Funding
          Funded by: Natural Environment Research Council, http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100000270;
          Award ID: NERC PhD award: University of Cambridge
          Categories
          1001
          60
          69
          204
          Ecology
          Research Article
          Custom metadata
          January 30, 2019

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