Stand Structure and Substrate Diversity as Two Major Drivers for Bryophyte Distribution in a Temperate Montane Ecosystem
Conservation and sustainable forestry are essential in a multi-functional landscape. In this respect, ecological studies on epiphytes are needed to determine abiotic and biotic factors associated with high diversity. The aim of the present study was to evaluate relative sensitivity of conservation targets (epiphytic bryophytes and lichens) in relation to contrasting environmental variables (tree species, tree diameter at breast height, bark crevice depth, pH, tree inclination, pH, forest stand age, area and type) in boreo-nemoral forests. The study was conducted in Latvian 34 woodland key habitat (WKH) boreo-nemoral forest stands. Generalized linear mixed models and canonical correspondence analysis showed that tree species and tree bark pH were the most important variables explaining epiphytic bryophyte and lichen composition and richness (total, Red-listed, WKH indicator species). Forest stand level factors, such as stand size and habitat type, had only minor influence on epiphytic species composition and richness. The results of the present study indicate a need to maintain the diversity of tree species and large trees, particularly Acer platanoides, Carpinus betulus, Fraxinus excelsior, Populus tremula, Tilia cordata, Ulmus glabra and Ulmus laevis in conservation of epiphytic bryophyte and lichen communities in the future.