Bryophyte metapopulations and the maintenance of bryophyte diversity heavily depend on species specific habitat and landscape characteristics. But the relationships between age structure of bryophyte populations, habitat characteristics and bryophyte diversity are not well known. We investigated the age structure of liverwort populations of Frullania dilatata, Metzgeria furcata and Radula complanata in relation to phorophyte preferences and epiphytic diversity of bryophytes and macrolichens. The results demonstrate that broad-leaved willow shrubs (primarily Salix caprea) are most preferred by these liverwort species and that these favorable phorophytes largely account for the coöccurrences of liverwort species in contrast to other phorophyte species. The liverworts show rather strongly aggregated distribution patterns. However, from ecotope level towards community level a change in association patterns occurs, suggesting that these species prefer similar habitats but occupy different microhabitats. The age distribution of the metapopulations is linked with the developmental stage of the habitats. The local frequency of the liverworts increases as the age of the population increases until the population is about 5–6 years. Also the suitability of habitats for these liverworts is temporally limited in the study area. After colonization of new habitats a lag phase of one year is hypothesized during which the species in general do not fully reproduce themselves.
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Vol. 111 • No. 1