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República del Ecuador


Area: 283,561 square kilometers. Ninth largest country in South America



Geography and Vegetation: There are basically three major regions, western (or Pacific) lowlands, the Cordillera, and the eastern (or Amazonian) lowlands. The Pacific lowlands range from extreme high precipitation in the north to extreme low precipitation in the south, thus Chocó forest in the north and dry thorn forest in the south. The Cordillera system ranges from humid to dry páramo, to montane and premontane forest; a significant area is also represented by dry inter-Andean vegetation. The eastern lowlands are largely composed of Amazonian forest. The following web site (from Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador) provides information on geology, geography, paleoclimates, climates and vegetation: http://www.mobot.org/mobot/research/ecuador/welcome.shtml


Vascular Plant Diversity: 17,058 species, more than 4,000 endemic (see Jørgensen & León-Ynez 1999, Ulloa U. & Neill. 2006). Ecuador is the only tropical Andean country to be thoroughly documented with regard to vascular plant diversity. Number of genera 2,302, families 238 (Jørgensen et al. 2011).


Bryophyte Diversity: Hepatics 615, Hornworts 15, Mosses 806 species.


Generic Endemism: Two moss genera are presently known to be endemic to Ecuador.

Timotimius W. R. Buck - Sematophyllaceae: T. titanotus W. R. Buck is only known from the original type collection made in a montane cloud forest at an elevation of 2350 m; substrate unknown.

Trachyodontium Steere - Pottiaceae: T. zanderi Steere is known from two collection found in a secondary montane forest at 2650 m elevation; found on nodes of Chusquea and “living” fense post of Gliciridia.


Species Endemism. Estimated number of endemic mosses for Ecuador 42. Nearly 100 additional “endemics” are likely superfluous names. Notable endemic species include: Brachymitrion laciniatum (Spruce) A. K. Kop., Brymela rugulosa (Mitt.) W. R. Buck, Eobruchia ecuatoriana Steere, Fissidens hydropogon Spruce ex Mitt., Holomitrium azuayensis M.J. Price, Leskeodon caducifolius W. R. Buck, Pireella pergemmescens H. Rob., and Sorapilla sprucei Mitt. Eight Sphagnum species, described by H. Crum, are included here.


Floristic Coverage: Probably the best inventoried among the five Andean countries. The eastern lowlands have been moderately well collected, but the western dry and wet lowlands, although largely degraded, have received little attention (Provinces of Esmeraldas, Manabí, Guayas, and eastern Los Ríos). The northern and southern most Andean region requires further inventory.


TROPICOS: 7184+ bryophytes.


Infrastructure: Herbaria include:

LOJA (Herbario Loja, Universidad Nacional de Loja). Few collections, but growing.

Q (Herbario, Universidad Central, Quito) Few collections, but contains some of historical importance.

QCA (Herbario, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Quito). The largest bryophyte herbarium in Ecuador. QCA contains many duplicate collections made by staff from AAU and GB, also to some extent collections made by W. C. Steere in the 1980’s.

QCNE (Herbario Nacional del Ecuador, Museo Ecuatoriano de Ciencias Naturales, Quito). The second largest bryophyte collection, mostly recent.


Collectors: A. Humboldt and A. Bonpland (1802-1803), W. Jameson (ca. 1820-1850), R. Spruce (1857-1863), H. Krause, G. Osculati, M. Villavicencio, P. M. Allioni (1909-1910), R. Benoist (1930-1932), W. C. Steere (1942-1943; 1981-1984). Scandinavian botanists, beginning in the latter half of the 20th century made enormous contributions to the bryophytes of Ecuador, including from GB - G. Harling and L. Andersson, and from AAU - L. Holm-Nielsen, B. Løjtnant & U. Molau, S. Laegaard, B. øllgaard, H. Balslev. The German funded project located at the Reserva Biológica San Francisco (Prov. Zamora-Chinchipe) has generated many bryophyte collections and numerous new country records (mostly hepatics).


Floristic and Ecological Moss Literature for Ecuador


  • Arts, T. & P. Sollman. 1998. A contribution to the moss flora of Ecuador. Trop. Bryol. 14: 43-52.
  • Balslev, H. & T. de Vries. 1982. Diversidad de la vegetación en cuatro cuadrantes en el páramo arbustivo del Cotopaxi, Ecuador. Publ. Mus. Ecuat. Ci. Nat. 3: 20-32.
  • Balslev, H. & T. de Vries. 1991. Life forms and species richness in a bunch grass paramo on Mount Cotopaxi, Ecuador. Pages 45-58. In: W. Erdelen, N. Ishwaran and P. Müller (eds.), Tropical Ecosystems. Margraf Scientific Books, Saarbrüken.
  • Barahona, E. 1997. Estudio preliminar de la Brioflora en dos localidades de la costa Ecuatoriana. Funbotanica 5: 7-20.
  • Bartram, E. B. 1934. Mosses of the River Napo, Ecuador. Rev. Bryol. Lichénol. 6: 9-18.
  • Bartram, E. B. 1955. Mosses of the Ecuadorian Andes collected by P. R. Bell. Bull. Brit. Mus. (Nat. Hist.), Bot. 2: 51-64.
  • Bartram, E. B. 1964. Mosses of Cerro Antisana, Ecuadorian Andes. Rev. Bryol. Lichénol. 33: 1-14.
  • Bescherelle, E. 1894. Cryptogamae Centrali-Americanae in Guatemala, Costa-Rica, Colombia & Ecuador. A cl. F. Lehmann lectae. Musci. Bull. Herb. Boissier 2: 389-401.
  • Brotherus, V. F. 1911. Allioniella, eine neue Laubmoosgattung aus Ecuador. Oefvers. Förh. Finska Vetensk.-Soc. 53: 1-4.
  • Brotherus, V. F. 1920 [1921]. Contributions à la flore bryologique de l×Ecuador. Rev. Bryol. Lichénol. 47: 1-16; 35-46.
  • Churchill, S. P. 1994a. The mosses of Amazonian Ecuador. AAU Reports 35: 1-211. [119 species, 62 genera, 27 families; checklist of Ecuadorian mosses in appendix]
  • Churchill, S. P. 1994b. New synonyms and deletions for the moss floras of Colombia and Ecuador. Trop. Bryol. 9: 1-4.
  • Churchill, S. P., I. Sastre-De Jesús & H. Balslev. 1992. The mosses of Añangu, Napo Province, Ecuador. Lindbergia 17: 50-54. [now Orellana Province]
  • Crum, H. A. 1957. A contribution to the moss flora of Ecuador. Svensk Bot. Tidskr. 51: 197-206.
  • De Notaris, J. 1859. Musci Napoani sive muscorum ad flumen Napo in Colombia a clar.mo Osculati lectorum. Mem. Reale Accad. Sci. Torino, Ser. II, 18: 437-455.
  • Espinosa, R. 1997. Estudios Botánicos en el sur del Ecuador. Cosmos, Loja. [A reprint of two volumes, volume one published in 1948, second in 1949; with introductions by F. Vivar, and B.B. Klitgaard.]
  • Gradstein, S. R. & W. A. Weber. 1982. Bryogeography of the Galapagos Islands. J. Hattori Bot. Lab. 52: 127-152.
  • Grubb, P. J. & T. C. Whitmore. 1966. A comparison of montane and lowland rain forest in Ecuador II. The climate and its effects on the distribution and physiognomy of the forests. J. Ecology 54: 303-333.
  • Grubb, P. J. & T. C. Whitmore. 1967. A comparison of montane and lowland rain forest in Ecuador III. The light reaching the ground vegetation. J. Ecology 55: 33-57.
  • Grubb, P. J., J. R. Lloyd, T. D. Pennington & T. C. Whitmore. 1963. A comparison of montane and lowland rain forest in Ecuador I. The forest structure, physiognomy, and floristics. J. Ecology 51: 567-601.
  • Hampe, E. 1869. Musci frondosi a cl. H. Krause in Ecuador, Prov. Loja collecti. Bot. Zeitung (Berlin) 27: 433-437. [Six species described as new.]
  • Hampe, E. 1869. Musci frondosi a cl. H. Krause in Ecuador, Prov. Loja collecti. Bot. Zeitung (Berlin) 27: 449-458. [Nine species described as new.]
  • Herzog, T. 1934. Die Bryophyten der Andenreisen von C. Troll. Musci. Hedwigia 74: 97-114.
  • Herzog, T. 1942. Beiträge zur Kenntnis neotropischer Bryophyten. Beih. Bot. Centralbl. 61: 559-590. [Includes bryophytes, some new, from Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.]
  • Herzog, T. 1949[1950]. Miscellanea Bryologica I. Neotropica. Memoranda Soc.Fauna Fl. Fenn. 25: 43-72.
  • Herzog, T. 1951. Miscellanea Bryologica III. Memoranda Soc. Fauna Fl. Fenn. 27: 92-110.
  • Kürschner, H. & G. Parolly. 2004. Ecosociological studies in Ecuadorian bryophyte communities. IV. Phytomass and water-storing capacity of epiphytic rain forest bryophyte communities in S Ecuador. Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 125: 489-504.
  • Kürschner, H. & G. Parolly. 2005. Ecosociological studies in Ecuadorian bryophyte communities. III. Life forms, life strategies and ecomorphology of the submontane and montane epiphytic vegetation of S Ecuador. Nova Hedwigia 80: 89-113.
  • Løjtnant, B. & U. Molau. 1982. Analysis of a virgin páramo plant community on Volcn Sumaco, Ecuador. Nordic J. Bot. 2: 567-574.
  • Lorentz, P. G. 1868. Musci frondosi a clarissimo H. Krause in Ecuador, prov. Loja collecti. Bot. Zeitung (Berlin) 26: 793-800; 809-822.
  • Mitten, W. 1851. Catalogue of cryptogamic plants collected by Professor W. Jameson in the vicinity of Quito. J. Bot. [14 mosses described as new.]
  • Müller, C. 1869. Zusatz zu Hampe's "Musci frondosi in Ecuador collecti". Bot. Zeitung (Berlin) 27: 457-458.
  • Müller, U. & J.-P. Frahm. 1998. Diversität epiphytischer Moose eines westandinen Bergregenwaldes in Ecuador. Trop. Bryol. 15: 29-43.
  • Muñoz, L., H. Balser & T. de Vries. 1985. Diversidad de la vegetación en cuatro cuadrantes en el páramo pajonal del Antisana, Ecuador. Publ.Mus. Ecuat. Ci. Nat. 6: 21-33.
  • Nöske, N. M., S. R. Gradstein, H. Kürschner, G. Parolly & S. Torracchi. 2003. Cryptogams of the Reserva Biológica San Francisco (Province Zamora-Chinchipe, southern Ecuador) I. Bryophytes. Cryptog. Bryol. 24: 15-32. [190 species of hepatics, 3 hornworts, 112 mosses; a total of 63 species new to Ecuador, mostly hepatics. See Parolly et al. 2004 for further additions.]
  • Parolly, G. & H. Kürschner 2004a. Ecosociological studies in Ecuadorian bryophyte communities I. Syntaxonomy, life strategies and ecomorphology of the oreal epiphytic vegetation of S Ecuador. Nova Hedwigia 78: 1-43.
  • Parolly, G. & H. Kürschner. 2004b. Ecosociological studies in Ecuadorian bryophyte communities. II. Syntaxonomy of the submontane and montane epiphytic vegetation of S Ecuador. Nova Hedwigia 79: 377-424.
  • Parolly, G. & H. Kürschner 2005a. Ecosociological studies in Ecuadorian bryophyte communities V. Syntaxonomy, life forms and life strategies of the bryophyte vegetation on decaying wood and tree bases in S Ecuador. Nova Hedwigia 81: 1-36.
  • Parolly, G. & H. Kürschner 2005b. Ecosociological studies in Ecuadorian bryophyte communities VI. Syntaxonomy, life forms, life strategies and ecomorphology of the subandean woodlands and Polylepis forests in Central Ecuador. Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 126: 211-252.
  • Parolly, G., H. Kürschner, A. Schäfer-Verwimp & S. R. Gradstein. 2004. Cryptogams of the Reserva Biológica San Francisco (Province Zamora- Chinchipe, Southern Ecuador) III. Bryophytes - Additions and new species. Cryptog. Bryol. 25: 271-289. [Further additions and a few revised names, with a total of 499 bryophytes: 313 hepatics, 3 hornworts, and 183 mosses. Stated by the authors as “the highest species number ever recorded from a relatively small area (1000 ha) in the tropics”.]
  • Robinson, H., L. B. Holm-Nielsen & S. Jeppesen. 1971. Mosses of Ecuador. Lindbergia 1: 66-74.
  • Robinson, H., L. B. Holm-Nielsen & B. Løjtnant. 1977. Mosses of Ecuador II. Lindbergia 4: 105-116.
  • Seaward, M.R.D. & S.M.D. Fitzgerald (eds.). 1996. Richard Spruce (1817-1893): Botanist and Explorer. Royal Botanic Garden, Kew. [Contains introduction and 27 chapters; three chapters devoted to hepatics by S.R. Gradstein, R.E. Stotler, and P.W. Richards.]
  • Steere, W. C. 1936. Mosses of the G. Allen Hancock expedition of 1934, collected by Wm. R. Taylor. The Hancock Pacific Expeditions 3(1): 1-12, pl. 1.
  • Steere, W. C. 1948. Contributions to the bryogeography of Ecuador. I. A review of the species of Musci previously reported. Bryologist 51: 65-167. [First catalogue of Ecuadorian mosses; extremely useful reference summarizing the history of bryological collectors, localities, types, etc.]
  • Steere, W. C. 1986. Trachyodontium, a new genus of the Pottiaceae (Musci) from Ecuador. Bryologist 89: 17-19.
  • Steere, W. C. 1988. Remarks on an ambiguous publication: Josepho De Notaris, Musci Naponani sive Muscorum ad Flumen Napo in Colombia a Clar:mo Osculati Lectorum. Beih. Nova Hedwigia 90: 283-287.
  • Taylor, T. 1846. The distinctive characters of some new species of Musci, collected by Professor William Jameson, in the vicinity of Quito, and by Mr. James Drummond at Swan River. London J. Bot. 5: 41-66. [35 mosses described as new for Ecuador.]
  • Taylor, T. 1847. Descriptions of new Musci and Hepaticae, collected by Professor Williams Jameson on Pichincha, near Quito. London J. Bot. 6: 328-342. [22 mosses described as new.]
  • Taylor, T. 1848a. On some new Musci, collected by Professor W. Jameson on Pichincha. London J. Bot. 7: 187-199. [21 mosses described as new.]
  • Taylor, T. 1848b. On the specific characters of certain new cryptogamic plants, lately received from, and collected by, Professor William Jameson, on Pichincha, near Quito. London J. Bot. 7: 278-285.
  • Thériot, I. 1936. Mousses de l×Equateur. Rev. Bryol. Lichénol. 9: 5-36.
  • Weber, W. A. 1993. Additions to the Galpagos and Cocos Islands lichen and bryophyte floras. Bryologist 431-434.
  • Williams, R. S. 1924. Galapagos and Cocos Island mosses collected by Alban Stewart in 1905-6. Bryologist 27: 37-44, plate 8.


Background References Related to the Ecuadorian Flora and Vegetation


  • Harling, G. 1979. The vegetation types of Ecuador - A brief survey. Pages 165-174. In: K. Larsen & L. B. Holm-Nielsen (eds.), Tropical Botany. Academic Press, London.
  • Jørgensen, P. M. & S. León-Ynez (eds.). 1999. Catalogue of the vascular plants of Ecuador. Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 75: i-viii, 1-1181. [Excellent summary of geography, geology, climate, vegetation and collectors, text both in Spanish and English.] See web site: http://www.mobot.org/mobot/research/ecuador/welcome.shtml
  • Renner, S. S. 1993. A history of botanical exploration in Amazonian Ecuador, 1739-1988. Smithsonian Contr. Bot. 22: 1-39.
  • Ulloa U., C. & D. A. Neill. 2006. Cinco Años de Adiciones a la flora del Ecuador: 1999-2004. Editorial UTPL. [Provides 1,246 new additions to the vascular plant flora, including 820 new taxa, 337 new country records]


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