Field of Science

Some Birds Like the Moss

One of the ornithologists in my department forwarded along this article about Australian woodland bird conservation that mentions mosses.

R.M. Montague-Drake, D.B. Lindenmayer and R.B. Cunningham. 2009. Factors affecting site occupancy by woodland bird species of conservation concern. Biological Conservation Volume 142, Issue 12, Pages 2896-2903.

They focused on  patches of woodland and studied which aspects of the woodland affect the presence of 13 different bird species. One of the factors they measured was the % of the ground or rocks that was covered by mosses and lichens.

They found that 5 of the bird species were more likely to be found in woodlands with high percentages of moss and lichen cover. They lichen-ed them! (Teaching Bryology and Lichenology there were so many bad lichen jokes during the laboratory period, but I still found them totally funny.) 

The authors mention that often in other studies they do not distinguish between 'bare ground' and 'moss and lichen covered'. I would have to agree that there is a big difference between the two. Moss layers hold moisture, prevent soil erosion, and serve as housing for invertebrates and other small critters.

It is great to read that some species of birds thoroughly appreciate their moss and lichen neighbors!

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