The Azorean archipelago is a hotspot for bryophyte diversity, hosting over 400 species . Although I am not a botanist, the variety of mosses and liverworts covering the ground and hanging from trees in the native Azorean humid laurisilva forests amazes me.

Mosses on tree
Mosses in Terceira
The Azores harbours an outstanding diversity of bryophytes

Over 400 species can be found on the nine islands, mostly in the native forests, hanging from trees, covering leaves, rocks, or any available surfaces.

Pico is the second largest island of the Azores and, as the name suggests (pico = peak), Portugal’s highest point, the Pico Mountain (2351 m) is found here. Since the elevation changes from basically sea level to over 2000 m within a very short distance, Pico is a great natural laboratory to study how elevational gradients influence plant or animal communities.

Portugal’s highest peak is on Pico, one of the Azorean islands

The elevation increase from sea level to 2351 m within a few kilometres allowed the establishment of a transect studying changes in plant communities over this elevational gradient (blue dashed line).

I only use my statistical and analytical skills in this project, since I do not know much about this taxa. However, I work with bryologists and use their data to find ecologically meaningful patterns in them. At the moment, I am investigating what kind of processes, stochasticity, environmental filtering, or biotic interactions, drive the community assembly of bryophytes along an elevational gradient on Pico. The elevational transect was established several years ago and the bryophyte diversity patterns have already been analysed .


Gabriel, R., Homem, N., Couto, A., Calvo, S., & Borges, P. A. V. (2011). Azorean bryophytes: a preliminary review of rarity patterns. Açoreana, 149–206.
Coelho, M. C. M., Gabriel, R., Hespanhol, H., Borges, P. A. V., & Ah-Peng, C. (2021). Bryophyte diversity along an elevational gradient on Pico island (Azores, Portugal). Diversity, 13(4), 162.
Coelho, M. C. M., Elias, R. B., Kluge, J., Pereira, F., Henriques, D. S. G., Aranda, S. C., Borges, P. A. V., Ah-Peng, C., & Gabriel, R. (2016). Long–term monitoring across elevational gradients (II): vascular plants on Pico Island (Azores) transect. Arquipelago. Life and Marine Sciences, 33, 21–44.
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