Max Mallen-Cooper, Will K. Cornwell
The Bryologist 123 (3), 444-454, (22 September 2020) https://doi.org/10.1639/0007-2745-123.3.443
KEYWORDS: biomonitoring, climate change, Cryptogam, edge effects, experimental ecology, local adaptation, non-vascular, Plasticity, pollution, Transplantation
Transplant studies have long been a cornerstone of experimental ecology. Lichens and bryophytes have several useful characteristics for transplantation: they are small, easily transported, and highly responsive to environmental gradients. Here we conduct a systematic review to synthesise lichen and bryophyte transplant studies up until March 2020 (N=454). A great majority of studies (67%) used lichen and bryophyte transplants as biosensors of airborne pollutants. Other research themes such as forest management and biotic interactions were associated with comparably modest bodies of work. A total of 247 lichen and bryophyte species had been used in transplant studies, but four species predominated: Hypogymnia physodes, Pseudevernia furfuracea, Evernia prunastri and Lobaria pulmonaria. Liverworts were only transplanted in 4% of studies, and most studies focused on epiphytic (69%) or terricolous species (31%). A small group of studies (N=15) used whole-community transplants with areas ranging from 25–250,000 cm2. Apart from pollution research, studies centered on assisted colonization and simulated climate change appear to be increasing most rapidly in time. There were several recurrent lines of investigation within the included literature (e.g., edge effects, colonization of young forests, climate change effects and local adaptation) and we synthesise the key results. We recommend that future research address underrepresented taxa (e.g., liverworts, biological soil crusts) and geographic gaps, namely Australia and Africa.