ARPHA Conference Abstracts : Conference Abstract
Conference Abstract
Conservation concern’ bryophytes find refuge on cave entrances in the Azores
expand article infoRosalina Gabriel‡,§, Maria Manuela Sim-Sim|,, Juana María González-Mancebo#
‡ cE3c/GBA – Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes / Azorean Biodiversity Group, Angra do Heroísmo, Portugal
§ FCAA-Uac – Faculty of Agrarian and Environmental Sciences, University of the Azores, Angra do Heroísmo, Portugal
| CE3C/NHS – Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes / Natural History & Systematics, Lisboa, Portugal
¶ Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon, Lisboa, Portugal
# Department of Botany, Ecology and Plant Physiology, University of La Laguna, La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
Open Access


Bryophytes, including mosses, liverworts and hornworts, are terrestrial plants, with a particular life cycle where the gametophyte is dominant over the sporophyte; many species are pokilohydric, meaning that they achieve a quick equilibrium between the cell water content and that of the environment, suspending their life, but not dying, in the absence of water. Due to their light spores, these plants have a great dispersal ability and may be found from the poles to the equator. In the Azores, there are almost 500 species (Gabriel et al. 2010), colonizing a large number of habitats and substrata, but forming particularly luxuriant communities inside native forests. Nevertheless, these forests are presently restricted to medium-high elevations (above 500 m) and below this altitude, adequate habitats for many bryophyte species are scarce (Henriques et al. 2016). Cave entrances, at different elevations, serve as surrogate habitats for bryophyte species, since they present an adequate relative humidity, fewer competitor species and are usually not disturbed by chemical products such as herbicides or pesticides. The aims of this work are twofold:

  1. present the results of the first IUCN red-list assessment of the conservation status of Azorean conservation concern bryophytes; and
  2. present an overview of the major threats involving the conservation of those species.

The assessments of extinction risk were based on the most updated categories and criteria. Seven liverworts (Calypogeia azorica, Cheilolejeunea cedercreutzii, Fuscocephaloziopsis crassifolia, Leptoscyphus porphyrius subsp. azoricus, Lophocolea fragrans Plagiochila longispina and Radula holtii,) and seven mosses (Andoa berthelotiana, Echinodium renauldii, Heterocladium flaccidum, Hookeria lucens, Microcampylopus laevigatus, Rhynchostegiella trichophylla and Thamnobryum rudolphianum) benefit from populations at cave entrances, mostly the Azorean and Macaronesian endemic species. The three most common threats harming “cave” bryophytes include: climate change & severe weather, habitat change and degradation and invasive plant species of native forest. These threats are also documented in the literature (e.g. Patiño et al. 2016; Ferreira et al. 2016Triantis et al. 2010 and Silva et al. 2008). Cave habitats are thus an important part of bryophyte conservation in the Azores, and should be both legally protected and monitored to the mutual benefit of species and habitat conservation.


IUCN, species conservation profiles, rarity, Mosses, Liverworts, Macaronesia (Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands)

Presenting author

Rosalina Gabriel

Presented at

24th International Conference on Subterranean Biology (20 – 24 August 2018), University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal. Conference organized under the auspices of the International Society for Subterranean Biology.


We are grateful to project "LIFE14 PRE BE 001 IUCN" - Assessing European bryophytes: Macaronesia, led by Maria Manuela Sim-Sim and to project "FCT-PTDC/AMB/70801/2006" - Understanding Underground Biodiversity: Studies of Azorean Lava Tubes, led by Maria de Lurdes Enes Dapkevicius.

We would also like to express our gratitude to all collectors that have referred bryophytes to cave entrances, namely Fernando Pereira, Isabel R. Amorim and Laura Jennings and to all the members of "Associação Os Montanheiros" and "GESPEA - Grupo de trabalho para o Estudo do Património Espeleológico dos Açores".

Funding program

Participation on this Congress was funded by FCT-Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (Portugal) within the project UID/BIA/00329/2013.

Hosting institution

University of the Azores

Author contributions

All three authors participated in the IUCN evaluation of the species; RG organized and presented the data.