Field of Science

Shading by Mosses

Shading of understory plants is caused by the leaves of the taller plants. Mosses have leaves that are typically one cell thick. In this study researchers determined that moss leaves actually block a large percentage the light. The shadowing that results as the leaves wave back and forth results in a flickering pattern of sun flecks that reach the plants beneath.

I think that it is a really cool study and pretty interesting that the mosses, despite having very thin leaves are able to block light creating sun flecks just like larger plants.

Swatland, H. J. 2011.Microphotometry of Underwater Shadowing by a Moss from a Niagara Escarpment Waterfall. Microscopy and Microanalysis 17:125-131.

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