Impacts of alien tree species on the abundance and diversity of terricolous bryophytes.
Bryophytes comprise an important element of temperate forest biodiversity and functioning. Although numerous studies reported impacts of alien tree species on understorey vegetation, few focused on impacts on bryophytes. Here we checked whether three invasive tree species in Europe (Prunus serotina Ehrh., Quercus rubra L. and Robinia pseudoacacia L.) influence terricolous bryophyte communities, alpha and beta diversity, and cover. We used a set of 186 study plots in western Poland with data on the cover of bryophytes species, as well as light availability, soil C:N ratio and pH. We found that light availability was the main driver of bryophyte species richness, cover and composition. Poor Pinus sylvestris L. forests invaded by P. serotina hosted more species and higher species richness than non-invaded P. sylvestris forests, while forests invaded by Q. rubra and R. pseudoacacia hosted fewer species than native forest types. Low differences among forest types studied resulted from small pools of species and the presence of generalist species. Fagus sylvatica L. forest, Q. rubra and R. pseudoacacia forests hosted the smallest number of species, while the most species rich stands were poor P. sylvestris forest invaded by P. serotina and non-invaded P. sylvestris forests. We concluded that light limitation by invasive species might be more important than dominant tree species identity in limiting terricolous bryophyte species richness and abundance. This requires further studies, accounting for varied abundances of invasive tree species. Therefore, the conservation of sites with high terricolous bryophyte biodiversity needs to be focused on canopy cover.