Bryophytes include mosses (Bryopsida), liverworts (Marchantiopsida) and hornworts (Anthocerotopsida), all of which are small primitive plants that occupy a wide variety of habitats and substrates. Bryophytes assume an important functional role in the ecosystems where they occur, performing water interception, accumulation of water and their mineral contents, decomposition of organic matter and physical protection of soils. Many bryophyte species are used as bioindicators, and their presence is associated with atmospheric and aquatic purity.
Four hundred and thirty eight species are given to the Azores, while there are 416 in the Canary Islands (Losada-Lima et al. 2001) and 558 in Madeira (Cecilia Sergio personal comment). Indeed the Azores are characterized by (Gabriel 2000; Gabriel & Bates 2005): i) high diversity of bryophyte species; ii) luxuriance and complexity of communities, found in all kinds of substrata inside and outside native forests: rock, soil, humus, stems and branches and including leafs and fronds, and, iii) high biomass values.
Containing the 438 Bryophyte species and subspecies hitherto recorded from Azores with 205 species illustrated, totalling 784 photos (Updated 22nd January 2012)