Botanic Garden Meise

 Research

Bryophytes

Contact: H. Stieperaere

Collaborator: A. Sotiaux

The Belgian hepatics and mosses have been studied extensively, culminating in the publication of the 'Flore générale de Belgique, Bryophytes'. Much work was done by Demaret and Wilczeck on Bryum and Pohlia, especially on the propaguliferous species. This stimulated interest in propaguliferous species by other Belgian bryologists.

For conservation and monitoring purposes, bryophyte diversity in and outside the nature reserves is compared. Also conservation tools such as Red Lists are needed. Problems with invasive species are also studied.

Tropical bryophytes have mainly been studied in Central Africa. Recently a collaborator has started working on Réunion and South Africa.

Woodland Bryophytes of Lowland Belgium

L. Durwael 1997-99, H. Stieperaere

As part of the woodland inventory of the Flemish Region (Ministry of the Flemish Community, Bos en Groen), the bryophytes from vegetation relevés (forest floor only) of forests in the Flemish Region have been named. The aims were to document the woodland vegetation typology and to study the relations between the forest types and moss assemblages. In the future, the bryophyte diversity of the forest floor will be compared to the diversity in other forest microsites (e.g. rides, dead wood, trunks, ...).

Key publications

  • Stieperaere H. & Durwael L. (2000) Bosbeheer en biodiversiteit: mossen. De Boskrant 29(5): 12-14.
  • Stieperaere H. & Roelandt B. (2000) Mossen in de bossen van Vlaanderen. Brussel, Ministerie van de Vlaamse gemeenschap Afdeling Bos & Groen, 62 p.

Conservation of bryophytes

G. De Smedt, A. Sotiaux, H. Stieperaere

Bryophyte diversity is not evenly distributed in the landscape. This is documented by regional mapping schemes (A. Sotiaux). Sites with high bryophyte diversity are studied in more detail. For some nature reserves detailed inventories have been made and the bryophyte richness has been correlated with site diversity and management. In the nature reserve 'Torfbroek' in Berg, the relation between the spread of acidophytous species in a calcareous mire has been related to hydrology (E. Gildemyn & H. Stieperaere, in collaboration with P. De Becker of the Institute of Nature Conservation).

For the preparation of a Red list of the bryophytes of Flanders an extensive database of the observations is needed. This does not yet exist. The differentiated checklist of the mosses, liver- and hornworts (bryophytes) of Flanders (H. Stieperaere & G. De Smedt, for the Institute of Nature Conservation) will specify the presence of all mosses, liverworts and hornworts in the main ecoregions of Flanders (dunes, polders, sandy region, loess region and Campine region) for the periods up to 1900, 1950, 1980, 2000. This checklist will give an exact idea of the actual bryophyte flora and large-scale extinction patterns in Flanders.

Invasive bryophytes, their spread in Belgium and impact on the indigenous bryophytes

H. Stieperaere

The spread of three antipodal bryophytes in Belgium is studied. The database on the presence in Belgium of the two mosses Orthodontium lineare and Campylopus introflexus, that are already widespread in Western Europe, has been updated. The spread of the more recently introduced and slowly spreading liverwort Lophocolea (Chiloscyphus) semiteres is monitored and its influence on indigenous Lophocolea -species was studied.

Key publications

  • Stieperaere H. (1994) Lophocolea semiteres (Lehm.) Mitt. in Belgium and The Netherlands, another antipodal bryophyte spreading on the European continent. Lindbergia 19: 29-36.
  • Stieperaere H. & Jacques E. (1996) The spread of Orthodontium lineare and Campylopus introflexus in Belgium. Belg. Journ. Bot. 128: 117-123.
  • Stieperaere H., Heylen O. & Podoor N. (1997) Differences in species composition of the bryophyte layer of some Belgian and Dutch pinewoods with and without the invading hepatic Lophocolea semiteres (Lehm.) Mitt. Journal of Bryology 19: 425-434.
  • Stieperaere H.A.I., Heylen O.C.G. & Sollman Ph. (1998) Zuidelijk kantmos rukt op in duin, bos en hei: een nieuwe plaag in wording? De Levende Natuur 99: 42-45.

Bryophytes of tropical Africa

In the Garden the study of tropical bryophytes has mainly focused on Central Africa, with studies of the hepatics by C. Vanden Berghen and bryophytes by F. Demaret. No good floras exist for tropical Africa and even common mosses can take a long time to name. Therefore, E. Petit developed a key for the pleurocarpous mosses of Africa.

Recently Theo Arts, a collaborator, started working on Réunion and South Africa. After his untimely death in 2000 his herbarium, notes and documentation came to the Garden, but his flora project of Réunion remains unfinished.

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