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How does moss help the forest around it?


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I'd like to know how moss helps the forest around it. What does it do that is beneficial to the forest, or which organisms depend upon moss for survival? Lets say we had a forest, and a lot of the moss in it died. How would the forest be affected?

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Organisms do not exist for the beifit of others. They exist for thier own benifit. Other organisms might use them, or in the case of symbyosis use each other.

 

Moss uses organic material trapped by it to grow and reproduce its self and many inverterbrates (and a few other organisms) eat it. ANd when it dies other microrganisms break it down as part of their use of the organig matter (then other plants and organisms use that to grow).

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Among others, young seedlings make use of the soft very organic soil manufactured by moss, and it becomes their 'launch point' into life.

 

However, we do need to emphasize, as Edtharan said, that this is just another organism exploiting an opportunity. The moss is not there to help others. It is there purely for its own 'selfish' interest - to grow and reporduce.

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I see...which are these organisms that depend upon moss?

 

Unless you specify a certain moss type all you can really to is generalise.

 

Obviously those organisms that maintain a symbiotic link to the moss would suffer; and this would probably mean that a variety of other organisms, dependant on the moss symbiotes, would also decline. So there would probably be heaps of potential, somewhat indirect, flow-on effects caused by changes in the food-web (e.g. their might be a change in the abundance of various insectivorous species as a result in changes in the abundance of various moss dependant insects). The floristic composition of the forest community may also change: moss, as SkepticLance pointed out, creates a regeneration niche that no doubt would allow certain plant species to to better compete against other species that occupy a similar niche. So the loss of this regeneration niche would reduce or even exclude the recruitment of various plants - which would also maintain a number of flow-on effects.

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Probably the best example you can get of moss playing an important role in an ecosystem is Antarctica, where nearly all of the flora is either a lichen, moss or algae, supporting the only native fully-terrestrial fauna (small invertebrates)

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