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Epiphytic bryophyte communities of southwestern Arabia – phytosociology, ecology and life strategies

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Based on a phytosociological analysis, the epiphytic Leptodonto-Leucodontetum schweinfurthii and Orthotricho-Fabronietum socotranae were described from southwestern Arabia (Asir Mts. of Saudi Arabia, Yemen escarpment mountains). Both are typical of the monsoon-affected Juniperus procera, respectively Acacia origena woodland and form one of the most striking vegetation units on the Arabian Peninsula. Character species mainly are drought-tolerant Afromontane mosses. Higher-ranked character species, such as Orthotrichum diaphanum and Syntrichia laevipila allow to classify the new communities within the Syntrichion laevipilae alliance that reach a southern outpost in the southwestern Arabian border mountains.

In addition to the syntaxonomic and ecological descriptions of the communities, a life form and life strategy analysis has been carried out. The analysis indicates that life forms and life strategies clearly correlate with the ecological site conditions. The drought-tolerant, photo- and xerophytic Orthotricho-Fabronietum socotranae is dominated by cushion, short-turf and mat forming perennial stayers with regular sporophyte formation. By contrast, tail or fan forming pleurocarpous perennial shuttle species with large spores indicating short-range dispersal and a 'passive' (e. g., moderatey low reproduction) or 'generative' reproduction, as well as liverworts, concentrate in the sciophytic, subhumid Leptodonto-Leucodontetum schweinfurthii. In additon, the latter association shows a much higer diversity in life forms and life strategies.
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Keywords: BRYOPHYTES; ECOLOGY; EPIPHYTES; LIFE FORMS; LIFE STRATEGIES; PHYTOSOCIOLOGY; SAUDI ARABIA; SYNTAXONOMY; YEMEN

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2003

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  • Nova Hedwigia is an international journal publishing original, peer-reviewed papers on current issues of taxonomy, morphology, ultrastructure and ecology of all groups of cryptogamic plants, including cyanophytes/cyanobacteria and fungi. The half-tone plates in Nova Hedwigia are known for their high quality, which makes them especially suitable for the reproduction of photomicrographs and scanning and transmission electron micrographs.
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