Subantarctic Macquarie Island has substantial areas of feldmark on its plateau above 200 m altitude. Samples of the substrate (5.5 cm in depth) from bare areas of feldmark contained viable propagules of bryophyte species found at adjacent and distant sites on the island. In laboratory conditions propagules of 15 bryophyte taxa germinated, allowing interpretation of reasons for bare patches in feldmark: bryophytes were successful at colonizing stable ground but when surface movement was present, burial and/or damage of propagules and young plants prevented colonization. Spherical moss polsters found in cryoturbatic areas in feldmark, however, represent a growth form that can tolerate surface, movement. A conceptual model illustrating processes associated with colonization dynamics of bryophytes on feldmark terraces is presented. Ten of the 15 germinated taxa were nonlocal taxa which currently grow in plant communities at lower and hence warmer altitudes on Macquarie Island. The presence of viable propagules of these taxa provide an immediate and constant potential for dramatic vegetation change with climate change.
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research|
|Publication status||Published - May 1999|