South Africa

Terry Hedderson and Nicholas Wilding from University of Cape Town, at refuge Caverne Dufour (Piton des Neiges, Réunion)

Pr. Terry HEDDERSON, works at the University of Cape Town where his research focuses on the systematics and evolutionary ecology of mosses.  He has 30 years experience with this group, having worked on them in most of the planets major biomes. He focuses particularly on understanding evolution as a process, the influence of biotic and abiotic forces on the outcomes of this process, and how together these create and structure biological diversity across a range of phylogenetic, spatial, and temporal scales. Since selection on life history may be a key driver of diffrentiation, testing evolutionary predictions from life history therory is an area of particular interest. 

His PhD student in systematics Nicholas WILDING will also be contributing to this project especially in the identification of samples on his field of expertise: the moss family Funariaceae.

Anabelle near the lysimeters' set up in the forest of Bébour (Réunion, April 2012)

Anabelle CARDOSO is doing her Honours thesis (2012) on the role of bryophytes in the water cycle of the cloud forest of Réunion:
"My project investigates the role bryophytes play in the storage of water as well cloud water interception in the tropical montane cloud forests of La Reunion. I also investigate the bryophytes photosynthetic response to desiccation. I used weighing lysimeters to monitor cloud water interception by bryophytes in the forest, in addition I also measured bryophyte biomass and photosynthetic responses to desiccation. Hopefully my data will provide valuable insights into why the cloud forest on Réunion should remain untransformed by anthropogenic influence and how cloud forests in general and the bryophytes they contain may be excellent listening posts for climate change."

Lova MARLINE obtained a Women in Science PhD grant (2012-15) to study the Factors affecting diversity and distribution of bryophytes in Madagascar under a changing environment

 Understanding how the diversity of ecological community had evolved and how it influences the ecosystems is a key component in ecology especially in term of the effect of global change on the diversity and composition on biological assembly and in a long term of conservation planning of the tropical forest system. 

Madagascar is one of the biodiversity hotspots. Its forests are among the most biologically rich and unique in the world. Deforestation is one of the main drivers of species extinction on this continental island and is locally affecting the climate; tropical forests and island biotas are especially vulnerable. In this context, Madagascar is among the highest conservation priority areas globally. 
This project aims at using bryophyte as model to better understand the accumulation of species richness in a hotspot of biodiversity, using bryophytes indicators species to predict the migration of climatically sensitive ecosystems through the response of species and communities to climate change and using the results of this study for conservation management.