What Is the Ecological Importance of Bryophytes?

Bryophytes serve two important functions in an ecological sense: they absorb and release water in certain ecosystems, and they also release acids in other ecosystems. These functions help support certain organisms and other small forms of life in the ecosystems in which they exist, explains McDaniel College. Bryophytes in these ecosystems usually take the form of “moss balls” for their functions.

Bryophytes are a class of non-vascular land plants. They are small and herbaceous and usually grow in mats or packs. Mosses are one of the most common and well-known types of bryophytes. In certain ecosystems, these plants have a very important affect on the lives of the organisms surrounding them. This is especially true in the tropical rainforest and in wetland climates, like boglands and swamps. In these climates, moss balls form and absorb water. The water that is absorbed becomes infused with different substances from the plant itself. For example, certain ions and chemical elements enter the water while it is still inside of the ball of moss. After a short time, the moss balls release the enriched water, which may have become acidic. The released water sometimes contains organic matter and, given time, can create new ecosystems, like swamps.