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MOSSES OF CHILE

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NEW: download the work "Géneros de briófitos de Isla Jéchica, Archipiélago de Los Chonos, Aisén". By Juan Larraín, 2012.
 

Recently added genera:

                 

       
Racomitrium
     
 

In Chile there are about 800 moss species. A high percentage of them grows only in southern South America. This endemic mosses don’t grow in any other place of the world, that’s why it is important to conserve the habitats where they live. In this way, we will be able to know them, and admire their simple beauty.

In addition to the ca. 800 moss species that grow in Chile, there are more than 500 liverwort and hornwort species, making a total of nearly 1.300 bryophyte species for the country. This number represents the 20% of the total number of plant species of the country (5.100 vascular plant species + 1.300 bryophytes = 6.400). In Brazil, for instance, which is the country with highest biodiversity in the world, the ca. 3.100 bryophyte species that grow there correspond only to a bit more than the 5% of the total number of plants in the country (58.000).

All the destruction already done to Chile’s natural vegetation, specially in the central regions, and the destruction that every day is still happening, represents a major thread to the diversity of Chile’s natural heritage.

  Sphagnum falcatulum
     
weymouthia mollis

Unfortunately, the knowledge of our moss flora is still poor, and the estimations about the real number of species that grow in the country are just an approximation. There is scattered information about the moss collections made in the past and there is still lacking a complete regional flora of Chile with keys to families and genera, so the only resource for determining Chilean material are the scattered monographic works dealing with Chilean mosses and exotic floras. Until today, there are several very abundant and diverse genera that have not yet been revised locally, making the determination of the species of these groups very difficult: Sphagnum, Schistidium, Campylopus, Dicranoloma, Ditrichum, Syntrichia, Barbula, Didymodon, Bryum, Pohlia, Macromitrium, Ulota, etc.

The only floras dealing with Chilean mosses that include keys for the determination of the species are those of Harold Robinson about the moss flora of Juan Fernández Islands (1975), the preliminary key of the mosses of Isla Navarino, Cape Horn, by Bill Buck (2002), and the key for the mosses of Senda Darwin Biological Station in northern Chiloé Island, by Juan Larraín (2007).

Nowadays, the number of Chilean specialists dedicated exclusively to the study of this group is minimal, and there are only two places in Chile where bryology is being developed: the National Natural History Museum in Santiago and the Botany Department at Univeristy of Concepción. The latter keeps the largest bryophyte herbarium in the country (almost 20 thousand specimens) and the most complete bryological library in the country. This library recently recieved two important donations: one by the Goffinet Lab, at the University of Connecticut, after the donation to this institution of Dr. Storrs Olson's complete bryological library, which included also the late William Hoe’s library, and another by The New York Botanical Garden, consisting in an important part of the Henry O. Whittier cryptogamic library.

In the recent years there has been a great improvement in the knowledge of moss taxonomy in the entire world, and there are many recent revisions of families and genera that involve Chilean representatives. These works are an essential if someone wants to start learning about this group of plants.

This website tries to become a reference for those who wish to get introduced in the Chilean bryophyte flora, presenting basic collecting and determination techniques, diagnostic genera descriptions, photographs of the most conspicuous species, with brief comments and biogeographic information, as well as a history of the bryological exploration in Chile, a complete literature dealing with Chilean mosses, and the importance of bryophytes to humans.

 

 

Juan Larraín 2006-2012

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The material on this website can be freely used under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license. Any commercial use should be asked to the author.

 

Cite this page as:

Larraín, J. 2012. Musgos de Chile. URL: http://www.musgosdechile.cl (include the date when the information was obtained)

     
 
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