University of Colorado, Boulder Boulder, CO, United States
Bryophytes are not just miniature tracheophytes. They are a group of plants possessing unique physiological adaptations to a broad suite of environmental conditions and functional traits that affect biogeochemical cycling across terrestrial biomes. Bryophytes impact water cycling through their dynamic responsiveness to moisture and through modification of soil-atmosphere processes such as evaporation and infiltration. As the dominant groundcover in peatlands and boreal forests, bryophytes affect carbon cycling through CO2 uptake and belowground storage. Bryophytes regulate nitrogen availability through symbioses with nitrogen fixing cyanobacteria across systems, and as keystone species affecting structure and function of biocrusts, the fertility powerhouses of drylands.