2.3.7 Ecosystem role
Bryophytes have many important ecosystem functions in the Arctic. These include:
Regulation of hydrology
Example values of primary production from different habitats in different climatic zones. Example values from Glime 2007.
Barnacle geese in Adventdalen (Svalbard). Picture by Eike Stübner
Bryophytes are also an important food source for high arctic reindeer and caribou (Parker 1978). Findings from Brøggerhalvøya, north-west Svalbard, indicate an increased utilisation of bryophytes as the reindeer population continued to increase. Bryophytes can be a very important food source when more preferred lichens and other vascular plants become less frequent after intensive grazing (Staaland 1993). Although they are not the preferred food source, bryophytes are grazed from time to time by arctic hares, muskox, lemmings and other rodents (Longton 1988).