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Las Briofitas. Bolivia Ecologica 59
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 Bryophytes of the Yungas

Yungas montane forest near Siberia. Photograph by E. Calzadilla. 

The montane forests of Bolivia are represented here by two ecoregions, the Yungas (treated here) and Tucumano-Boliviano. The Yungas (true montane forest) extends along a narrow band of the eastern slopes of the Cordillera Oriental, a continuation from the forests from Peru. The montane Yungas forest stretches from the northwest of Bolivia southwestward, terminating at the knee of the Cordillera system at 18ºS latitude, near to the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Approximately 5% of the land surface of Bolivia represents Yungas montane forest. Elevation ranges from 1000 to 4200 meters. This forest type is primarily represented in the Bolivian departments of La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. The annual average temperatures range from 7-24º C. Annual average precipitation ranges from 1500->6000 mm, with 0-2 dry months.


Map of the Yungas. Courtesy of FAN (Fundación Amigos de la Naturaleza), Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia.


The premontane or base montane (= Sub-Andean Amazon Transition Forest of Ibisch et al. 2003, 2004) is included here with the Yungas montane forest. This vegetation is considered transitional with the Amazon and lower montane forest (Yungas), ranging in elevation from 500 to 1000 meters. Premontane vegetation occupies ca. 2% of the Bolivian land surface. It is presently inferred that the Sub-Andean Amazon Forest will exhibit a closer bryophyte affinity with the montane forest, the Yungas, than the Amazon; clarification of this assumption awaits further analysis.

 Vascular plant diversity of the Yungas is the most diverse ecoregions in Bolivia, with or without consideration of “per unit area.” It is likely that with regard to inventory efforts, one might classify it as “moderately well known” but additional (possibly numerous) new species and new country records will be found in the coming decades. Among the important or characteristic families of the Yungas include: Araliaceae, Bromeliaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Lauraceae, Melastomataceae, Myrtaceae, Orchidaceae, Piperaceae, Podocarpaceae, and Rubiaceae. Other families of the Ceja de Monte include: Asteraceae, Cunoniaceae, Ericaceae, and Solanaceae. Tree diversity is estimated at more than 500 species. Ferns diversity is highest in the Yungas; ca. 600 species have been recorded along a single transect of the old Chapare trail that represents the highest number of ferns in the world per unit area (Kessler et al. 1999).


Yungas montane forest near Predones. Photograph by S. Churchill.


Selected Literature


Kessler, M., A.R. Smith, A. Acebey & J. Gonzales. 2001. Registros adicionales de pteridófitas del Parque Nacional Carrasco, Dpto. Cochabmba, Bolivia. Revista de la Sociedad Boliviana de Botnica 3: 146-150.


Bryophyte Diversity


The Bolivian Yungas contains the highest diversity for bryophytes, and likely exceeds the bryophyte diversity of all other ecoregions combined. Our knowledge of Yungas montane bryophytes is still rather imprecise, and like vascular plants requires additional fieldwork and analysis.


Yungas montane forest near Siberia. Photograph by L. Arroyo P.


The contribution of bryophytes in the Yungas ecosystem is paramount. The interception and retention of water from rain and cloud mist by bryophytes is in large part why the montane forest are humid, and why water is released incrementally even during the dry season, a factor exceedingly important to down slope vegetation, to say nothing of the human populations and communities dependent on a constant supply of water. The other equally important role is the “arresting” factor, preventing rapid erosion and further degrading factors of soil loss. Deforest the montane region and in a very short time the effects are impacted on the down slope vegetation and communities. Deforest the montane region and both short and long term climatic changes take place. The concept of “sustainable development” was and is not a reality for montane forest, particularly cloud or mist forest. The tradeoff is both quantity and quality of water; one can well foresee a time when water will be equal in value to either gold or oil. It is imperative that montane forest be conserved in Bolivia and elsewhere in the tropical Andes against any short-term economical incentives.


Thick cushion of bryophytes covering trunks and branches of trees in the Yungas montane forest near Siberia. Photograph by L. Arroyo P.


A checklist of species is still in preparation at this time, for the moment only higher taxa (families and genera) are presented. Common or typical bryophyte families and genera of the Yungas are enumerated under two categories, epiphyte and terrestrial. This is intended as a representative list, it is not a complete generic listing. Genera listed may contain species that are both epiphytic or terrestrial (e.g., Brachymenium, Leptodontium), some genera also contain species characteristic of other ecoregions, other genera with few to many species but with a single species common and even abundant in the Yungas forest. Some taxa can commonly be one of the two categories (epiphyte or terrestrial), but in some rare occasions found in the other category; e.g., Rhacocarpus is rarely found as an epiphyte, the same for Sphagnum – neither are considered here as “typical” epiphytes.


Family and Generic Checklist of the Yungas



      Bryophytes found on treelets, trees, shrubs and lianas.




Frullaniaceae (Frullania).

Geocalycaceae (Lophocolea).

Herbertaceae (Herbertus).

Jungermanniaceae (Syzygiella).

Lejeuneaceae (Amphilejeunea, Anoplolejeunea, Blepharolejeunea, Bryopteris, Ceratolejeunea, Cheilolejeunea, Cololejeunea, Colura, Cyclolejeunea, Dicranolejeunea, Diplasiolejeunea, Drepanolejeunea, Frullanoides, Lejeunea, Lepidolejeunea, Leptolejeunea, Leucolejeunea, Lopholejeunea, Macrolejeunea, Marchesinia, Mastigolejeunea, Microlejeunea, Odontolejeunea, Omphalanthus, Pycnolejeunea, Rectolejeunea, Stictolejeunea, Symbiezidium, Taxilejeunea).

Lepicoleaceae (Lepicolea).

Lepidoziaceae (Bazzania, Kurzia, Lepidozia, Telaranea).

Metzgeriaceae (Metzgeria).

Plagiochilaceae (Plagiochila).

Porellaceae (Porella).

Radulaceae (Radula).

Scapaniaceae (Scapania).

Trichocoleaceae (Trichocolea).




Bartramiaceae (Leiomela).

Brachytheciaceae (Aerolindigia, Lindigia, Meteoridium, Squamidium, Zelometeorium).

Bryaceae (Acidodontium, Brachymenium).

Calymperaceae (Syrrhopodon).

Catagoniaceae (Catagonium).

Cryphaeaceae (Cryphaea).

Daltoniaceae (Adelothecium, Daltonia).

Dicranaceae (Campylopus, Chorisodontium, Holomitrium, Symblepharis).

Entodontaceae (Entodon).

Hylocomiaceae (Pleurozium quitense).

Hypnaceae (Mittenothamnium, Pylaisia).

Lembophyllaceae (Pilotrichella).

Macromitriaceae (Macromitrium, Schlotheimia).

Meteoriaceae (Barbellopsis, Floribundaria, Meteorium, Toloxis).

Neckeraceae (Isodrepanium, Neckera, Porotrichodendron, Porotrichopsis, Porotrichum).

Orthotrichaceae (Orthotrichum, Zygodon).

Phyllogoniaceae (Phyllogonium).

Pilotrichaceae (Crossomitrium, Lepidopilum).

Pottiaceae (Leptodontium, Streptopogon, Streptotrichum).

Prionodontaceae (Prionodon).

Pterobryaceae (Pterobryon).

Racopilaceae (Racopilum).

Rhizogoniaceae (Leptotheca, Pyrrhobryum).

Rigodiaceae (Rigodium).

Sematophyllaceae (Acroporium, Aptychella).



      Bryophytes found on rocks, soil, humus, leaf litter, and logs.




Acrobolbaceae (Tylimanthus).

Adelanthaceae (Adelanthus?).

Aneuraceae (Aneura, Riccardia).

Arnelliaceae (Gongylanthus).

Aytoniaceae (Plagiochasma)

Balantiopsaceae (Isotachis, Neesioscyphus).

Calypogeiaceae (Calypogeia, Mnioloma).

Cephaloziaceae (Cephalozia, Odontoschisma).

Cephaloziellaceae (Cephaloziopsis).

Frullaniaceae (Frullania).

Geocalycaceae (Clasmatocolea, Heteroscyphus, Leptoscyphus, Lophocolea).

Herbertaceae (Herbertus, Triandrophyllum).

Jungermanniaceae (Anastrophyllum, Cryptochila, Jamesoniella, Nardia, Syzygiella).

Lejeuneaceae (Acanthocoleus, Brachiolejeunea, Ceratolejeunea, Frullanoides, Lejeunea, Lepidolejeunea, Mastigolejeunea, Omphalanthus, Taxilejeunea).

Lepicoleaceae (Lepicolea).

Lepidoziaceae (Bazzania, Kurzia, Lepidozia, Micropterygium, Telaranea).

Lunulariaceae (Lunularia).

Machantiaceae (Dumortiera, Marchantia).

Metzgeriaceae (Metzgeria).

Monocleaceae (Monoclea).

Pallaviciniaceae (Pallavicinia, Symphyogyna).

Pelliaceae (Noteroclada).

Plagiochilaceae (Plagiochila).

Porellaceae (Porella).

Radulaceae (Radula).

Scapaniaceae (Scapania).

Trichocoleaceae (Trichocolea).




Bartramiaceae (Bartramia, Breutelia, Philonotis).

Brachytheciaceae (Brachythecium, Eurhynchium, Platyhypnidium [aquatic]).

Bryaceae (Bryum, Rhodobryum).

Dicranaceae (Campylopus, Dicranum, Pilopogon).

Ditrichaceae (Ditrichum).

Eustichiaceae (Eustichia).

Fissidentaceae (Fissidens).

Funariaceae (Entosthodon, Funaria).

Hookeriaceae (Hookeria).

Hylocomiaceae (Pleurozium schreberi).

Hypnaceae (Ctenidium, Hypnum, Mittenothamnium).

Hypopterygiaceae (Hypopterygium).

Leucobryaceae (Leucobryum).

Leucomiaceae (Rhynchostegiopsis).

Mniaceae (Plagiomnium).

Neckeraceae (Porotrichopsis, Porotrichum, Thamnobryum).

Pilotrichaceae (Cyclodictyon, Hypnella, Thamniopsis, Trachyxiphium).

Plagiotheciaceae (Plagiothecium).

Polytrichaceae (Atrichum, Pogonatum, Polytrichadelphus, Polytrichastrum, Polytrichum, Steereobryon).

Pottiaceae (Anoectangium, Bryoerythrophyllum, Didymodon, Hymenostylium, Leptodontium, Scopelophia, Syntrichia, Trichostomum).

Racopilaceae (Racopilum).

Rhacocarpaceae (Rhacocarpus).

Rigodiaceae (Rigodium).

Sematophyllaceae (Sematophyllum [especially of streams]).

Sphagnaceae (Sphagnum).

Splachnaceae (Splachnum).

Thuidiaceae (Thuidium).



Species Checklist of the Yungas

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