2024 Abstracts

Synthesizing Bryophyte Functional Response to Environmental Variation to Improve Terrestrial Carbon Cycle Modeling


Kirsten K. Coe1* (kcoe@middlebury.edu), Sasha C. Reed2, Casey Schine1, Verity G. Salmon3, Benjamin N. Sulman3, Peter E. Thornton3


1Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT; 2U.S. Geological Survey, Moab, UT; 3Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN


Scientific understanding of current and future drivers of carbon (C) cycling at ecosystem and global scales relies on the ability of Earth system models (ESMs) to accurately represent plant-environment interactions and feedbacks. Bryophytes (mosses and their relatives) significantly affect C cycling, storage, and biogeochemical responses to global change across terrestrial ecosystems, but have remained unrepresented in ESMs. The central aim for this project is to conduct a global synthesis of bryophyte-C cycling processes, their drivers, and their responses to change. The objectives are to (1) leverage existing datasets to generate a database of bryophyte processes that relate to C cycling; and (2) elucidate, analyze, and test key relationships between bryophyte functional processes and environmental variables suitable for inclusion into ESMs and development of a novel bryophyte plant functional type. The preliminary analysis of available literature revealed over 3000 bryophyte functional trait records published since 1980 that are directly (e.g., NPP, biomass, Vcmax, decomposition; 1020 records) or indirectly (e.g., nitrogen content, water holding capacity; 2072 records) related to the C cycling metrics the team intends to develop for bryophyte-specific ESM functions. Researchers located bryophyte-C cycling records present in all focal ecosystems (boreal forest, n=732; Northern latitude, n=630; peatland, n=1232; dryland, n=498) and across all of the bryophyte growth forms (acrocarp, i.e., upright-growing shoots; peat moss; feather moss; biocrust) on which the team will focus for this synthesis.

Preliminary findings suggest bryophytes play relevant roles in terrestrial C cycling and data are available in the literature that characterize key bryophyte processes important to the C cycle across major terrestrial biomes.