by Inés Sastre De Jesús
Bryophytes provide many ecological services with implications at micro- and macro-scales. Many of these ecological services, as water storage and habitat, are a consequence of their life form patterns and colonial nature. For example, Sphagnum cushions hold up to 20 times their dry weight in water. Bryophytes water holding capacities and habitat are two services that can influence in the community structure of other organisms as micro-invertebrates and protists. In this project we explored the relationship between bryophyte micro-canopy structure, measured as roughness, and micro-invertebrates and testate amoeba in tropical cloud forests.
by Carlos Santos
Although less abundant than protists, species composition and distribution of microcrustaceans, including Copepoda, Ostracoda and Cladocera, may also be bryophyte- specific as shown by Frey (1981) and Reid (2001). In a single study that included bryophytes as the major habitat, Frey (1981) reported two bryophyte-associated cladocerans (Bryospilus repens and Chydorus brevilabris) from a cloud forest in Puerto Rico. Furthermore, in a recent examination of epiphytic bryophytes by co-author C. Santos-Flores (unpublished data), he found a potentially novel harpacticoid species (Bryocyclops sp.) and several ostracods resembling members of Elpidium.
by: Dimaris Acosta
Protists, testate amoebae in particular, represent one of the most prominent groups in edaphic and bryophyte ecosystems. There is growing molecular and ecological evidence for their high diversity, and their peculiar biogeographic affinities such as laurasian and gondwanan species assemblages. Similar to ciliates, testate amoebae are known to contribute to ecosystem nutrient cycling by consuming bacteria and other prey, and thus accelerating the turnover of bacterial biomass and soil organic matter. Since they represent the link between the microbial loop and higher trophic levels, it is important to identify the ecosystem parameters that regulate their communities in tropical ecosystems. This data could increase our understanding about potential restoration strategies of critical habitats such as tropical cloud forests. In this project, we report an inventory of both, testate amoebae species and ciliates, in bryophytes, and we discuss the role of canopy structure as a possible regulator of protist communities.

This project was funded by NSF Award DEB 0640057

University of Puerto Rico
Biology Department
Carr. 108 Barrio Miradero Km 1.3
Mayagüez ,PR 00680

787-832-4040 ext. 3900, 2405
Project leaders:
  • Dimaris Acosta
  • Inés Sastre De Jesús
  • Carlos Santos
  • Ramiro Vidal
   ©, All Rights Reserved.