There is strong interest in finding surrogates for taxa that are difficult to identify, primarily because of wide-ranging implications for management and conservation. We examined the effectiveness of using Vascular plant diversity as a basis for choosing reserves to capture bryophyte and lichen diversity. We surveyed 35, 20x50 m sites for bryophytes, lichens and vascular plants in a forest management district of eastern Australia. Despite being based on a relatively few sites, these results are informative because data-sets in which all three taxa are identified to species level are uncommon. We found that a set of sites that reserved 90% of vascular plant species captured 65% of bryophyte species and 87% of lichen species. Also, the sites that were 'irreplaceable' for overstorey species in a minimum reserve set captured 88 and 89% of bryophyte and lichen species, respectively. Vascular plant communities defined using clustering predicted highly significant variation in both bryophyte and lichen species composition. However, both vascular plant species richness and genus richness were poor predictors of bryophyte and lichen species diversity. The results indicate that, on a local scale, reserves selected for vascular plants can capture large percentages of bryophytes and lichens, however individual sites important for bryophyte and lichen conservation may not be important for vascular plant conservation. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.