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Bryological and Lichenological Section/ABLS

Studlar, Susan Moyle [1].

Moss Harvest in West Virginia: Increasing Pressure o­n Riparian Habitats.

Concern about intensive moss harvest (pre-moratorium) in the Monongahela National Forest (Appalachian Mountains) led to this study. Twenty commercial bags (freshly gathered “moss” from Rainelle, WV) were examined: fifteen representative and five rejected bags. Species present, abundance (cover), and probable substrata (logs or rocks) were determined. In the fifteen bags, Thuidium delicatulum was the most abundant (“target”) species, comprising 65% of the total bryophyte cover of 30 square meters; 79% of the 409 mats were from rocks. Hypnum species comprised 25% of total cover, and most mats were from logs: 56% (N=116) and 64% (N=45) for H. imponens and H. curvifolium, respectively. I had expected Hypnum imponens (“log moss”, preferred in commerce) to be the leading species. Most other species (“incidental take”, 55 mosses and 11 liverworts, 10% of total cover) were small and embedded in or overgrown by Thuidium delicatulum, although a few species were associated with Hypnum imponens. Thuidium evidently hosted more species because of its habitat (wetter, based on embedded riparian species) and habit (weft, more open). I concluded from bag analysis that increased harvest of Thuidium from rocks (rather than Hypnum from logs) can lead to higher incidental take. Fieldwork (Monongahela NF and Kumbrabow State Forest) supported this conclusion: Thuidium delicatulum preferred wetter sites and “hosted” more bryophytes. Bryophytes in the five rejected bags also indicated pressure on riparian and humid habitats. The total number of bryophyte species (20 bags) was 78 (65 mosses and 13 liverworts), including riparian species such as Scapania undulata and Thamnobryum alleghaniensis. Sustainable harvest is theoretically possible; mosses may re-invade “gaps” from harvest or disturbance, as observed in harvested (inferred) and non-harvested sites. However, current moss harvest practices are unsustainable and result in high incidental take.

Related Links:
West Virginia University Biology Department
Monongahela National Forest
Kumbrabow State Forest

1 - West Virginia University, Biology Department, Campus Drive, Morgantown, West Virginia, 26506-6057, USA

moss harvest
moss gathering
Monongahela National Forest
West Virginia
Appalachian Mountains
Thuidium delicatulum
Hypnum imponens
Hypnum curvifolium
riparian habitat
sustainable harvest.

Presentation Type: Paper
Session: 51-5
Location: Magpie (Cliff Lodge)
Date: Wednesday, August 4th, 2004
Time: 2:00 PM
Abstract ID:26

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