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Discovering The Bryophytes

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Started in June 2007, the project’s research sites were located within Mt. Kitanglad, specifically in Sitio Intavas, La Fortuna, Impasug-ong. The sites were located on the eastern and northern parts of the forest.

Sample plots were established according to vegetation types. Nine sample plots with a dimension of 20m x 20m quadrat were evenly distributed among the vegetation sites.

Collected specimens of bryophytes comprised of mosses, liverworts, and hornworts were air-dried for herbarium vouchers and were later on deposited in the Museum Botanical Section of CMU.

The specimens were identified, classified, and described morphologically by their diagnostic characteristics such as habit, habitat, leaf arrangement, stem structure, sporophyte characteristics, and rhizoids. Through existing herbaria and information from publications, identification of species was made easier.

Assessment of conservation status of bryophytes species were categorized whether they were rare, widespread, endemic, threatened, or endangered following the method by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Meanwhile, the local way of assessment concerned with rarity and distribution patterns of species was also employed. Those found to possess medicinal value were given preference.

Field inventory of the bryophyte flora showed that bryophyte taxonomy is comprised of 326 species of mosses, 98 species of liverworts, and 4 species of hornworts. Researchers using taxonomic keys identified collected specimens. With the help of an expert bryologist Dr. B. C Tan, findings of the researchers were confirmed. Identified mosses belonged to genus Brachymenium Schwaegr., Brachymenium coarctatum Bosch & Lac., and species belonging to family Bryaceae.

Findings also showed that the most species-rich was represented by Meteoriaceae (9 genera, 44 species), followed by Dicranaceae family (7 genera, 43 species). The least species with 1─5 genera and 1─2 species were Bartramiaceae, Ditrichaceae, Entodontaceae, Funariaceae, Pottiaceae, Sphagnaceae, Spiridentaceae, and Trachypodiaceae.

As for species richness, 8 endemic mosses species and 1 species of liverworts were recorded.   These bryophytes were observed along the trails and sampling plots along the lower montane up to the peak situated 2, 900 meters above sea level.   The total number of bryophytes is associated with moisture and vegetation types.   However, there were still unidentified species.

Mosses, liverworts, and hornworts were found in as low as 1, 805 m above sea level and as high as 2, 900 m above sea level. Notably, the location where bryophytes species grow indicates their respective family groups. Nearly 40% of mosses, 26% of liverworts, and 25% of hornworts thrive on tree trunks and branches.

Meanwhile, 13% of mosses species live in terrestrial habitats with 15% of liverworts and 25% of the hornworts. Inhabiting on rock surfaces and crevices are a minute 3% of mosses, 8% of liverworts, and 50% of hornworts. The remaining 43% of mosses and 42% of liverworts populate on moist soil and humic-rich substrates.

Meteoriaceae family of mosses led the list of the most species-rich and Plagiochilaceae family for liverworts.

Potential species that possess medicinal properties were 11 species of mosses which were identified with the genus: Philonotis, Bryum, Rhodobryum, Fisidens, Plagiomnium, Mnium, Dawsonia, Pogonatum, Polytrichum, and Sphagnum. Six species of liverworts are also known for potential usefulness for healing ailments. These were under genus Riccardia, Herbertus, Dumortiera, Marchantia, Pallavicinia, and Plagiochila.

Known medical uses exhibited by mosses are for cardiovascular problem, nervous prostration to cure angina, healing of wounds such as burns and bruises, fungal infections, diuretics, hair growth stimulation, antibacterial agent (swollen throats), skin diseases, eye diseases, hemorrhoids, and colds.

Liverworts are found to cure antileukemic activity, antimicrobial activity, as antiseptics, and provide specific treatments on diuretic, liver ailments, insect bites, boils, abscesses, and pulmonary tuberculosis.  (Mereyll Kyla Irader, S&T Media Service)

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