In the first article from Fernando Hurtado’s PhD we study the ability of a handful of moss species to establish in a new place from vegetative propagules. These propagules are small portions of adult mosses that allow them to disperse and colonize new fragments of suitable habitats. Mosses have different ways to do it, some from leaves, others from the shoots. In this work Fernando processed the mosses, first breaking them into small fragments to simulate the natural process of moss pad fragmentation, and then sieving these fragments to classify them into different propagule class sizes. He also measured several propagule traits, looking to each propagule one by one in the microscope in dry and wet conditions, and doing image analyses. He studied establishment success by putting many samples of different propagule size and species (with enough number of replicates, of course) to grow in a growth chamber with controlled climatic conditions for 2 months. Then in each sample he measured the number of established propagules, the area they covered, and their biomass and relative growth rate. The analyses of these data show that the size of the propagules matters to establishment success, but in different ways depending on the species; some do better than others with intermediate propagule sizes. And some had real trouble in establishing in the sudied conditions. We relate these differences between species with the hydration dynamics of the propagules. Further, we identify several functional traits related to these hydration dynamics, which seem to determine the process of colonization of new habitats by mosses.
You can read the article at https://jhortal.com/project/hurtado-et-al-sci-rep-2022-moss-establishment-success-is-determined-by-propagule-size-and-species-identity/, and follow Fernando’s thread on this paper in his twitter account.