Previous Page:
Status of Soil Mites
Next Page:
Status of Lichen

Scroll for more

Getting Started

How to Navigate the Report

There are two ways to navigate this report described below. If you are interested in the full report, we encourage you to start from the beginning with Chapter 1: Introduction and simply use the "turn the page" function.

Table of Contents

The Table of Contents is accessed through the "hamburger menu" icon located in the bookmark on the left-hand side of each page. This report is broken down into seven chapters, plus the Executive Summary and Conclusion. From this menu, you can easily navigate to any Chapter/subsection/page in the report, or return to the home page.

An abbreviated version of the Table of Contents is also accessible in the footer, at the bottom of each page.

The arrows at the bottom left-hand of your screen will sequentially take you through the report, page by page. For example, press the right arrow to move from Section 1.1 to Section 1.2. The forward arrow (>) allows you to turn to the next page while the back arrow (<) allows you to return to the previous page.

Information Guide

This icon can be found in the middle of the bookmark located on the left-hand side of each page in this report. It provides the information above on how to navigate through the content. You can access this guide anytime without leaving the current page you’re visiting.

Photo: Scott Zona

Section 7.2

Status of Mosses

Willow Feather-moss (Hygroamblystegium varium)

93.3% intact on average

The status of 21 moss species associated with old deciduous and mixedwood habitat in the Al-Pac FMA area is, on average, 93.3% as measured by the Biodiversity Intactness Index.

This means most of the habitat for old forest mosses is in good condition, but habitat suitability is lower in some areas due to human development activities.



Mosses provide a number of important functions in northern boreal forests[1].  For example, a blanket of moss on the forest floor regulates soil moisture and temperature, and intercepts incoming nutrients, such as nitrogen, making these nutrients available to other plants. Moss beds can also limit the establishment of understory plants as well as tree seedlings, thereby directly affecting the boreal plant community[2]. Mosses are also home to a diverse community of micro-organisms, such as fungi, bacteria, and mites, that play critical roles in decomposing plant material and maintaining healthy soil[3].
While mosses are common throughout the boreal forest, many species have specialized habitat requirements[4]. For example, there are many species that prefer to colonize specific substrates, such as the surfaces of decaying logs, or the rough creviced bark of large old trees. In deciduous and mixedwood forests, mosses may be restricted to these habitats because they do not grow well on leaf litter[5]. These habitat requirements, and their dependence on the availability of moisture from their immediate surroundings for growth and survival, make many moss species susceptible to disturbances like forest harvesting. A number of mosses have been identified as indicators of closed canopy forest because these species decline in harvested sites[6].

Intactness and sector effects are summarized for moss species associated with old deciduous and mixedwood forests in the Al-Pac FMA area and AEI.

Largetooth Calcareous Moss (Mnium spinulosum)
Photo: ABMI

Lesser Plait Moss (Hypnum pallescens)
Photo: ABMI

Principle 8: Monitoring and Assessment

Criterion 8.2 – Monitoring and evaluating environmental and social impacts of activities carried out in the management unit

FSC Indicator 8.2.3 (3) is supported by providing up-to-date ‘best available information’ on the status of naturally occurring native species from six taxa that can inform on the effectiveness of conservation and restoration actions taken within the FMA over time (linked to FSC Criterion 6.6).


Intactness of 21 moss species associated with old deciduous and mixedwood forests was found to be, on average:

FMA Area: 93.3%
AEI: 83.9%


  • Habitat suitability for most old forest moss species is predicted to have declined between 2010 and 2016 as indicated by the drop in intactness over this time frame. Habitat suitability was reduced the most for Largetooth Calcareous Moss (85.1% in 2010 to 82.3% in 2016) and Heller's Notchwort (87.9% in 2010 to 85.5% in 2016). 
  • Old-forest mosses are disproportionately affected by human footprint because, as of 2017, 54% of human footprint had occurred in deciduous and mixedwood forest, compared to other vegetation types. Human footprint in the FMA area has reduced forest older than 100 years, including lowland and upland, by 25.2% (compared to what would have been present without footprint). However, climate fluctuations and fire suppression in past decades produced a large area of maturing forest that will likely result in increasing areas of older forest for the next two or three decades, depending on fire and harvest rates. Again, intactness reflects the loss of older forest to human footprint, not the recruitment of old forest due to historical changes in fire regimes.
  • Intactness of old forest mosses was higher in the Al-Pac FMA than in the AEI; this can mainly be attributed to the presence of agriculture footprint, as well as energy footprint associated with the surface mineable area in the AEI, which removes their preferred old-forest habitat.



Heller's Notchwort (Anastrophyllum hellerianum)
Photo: Oskar Gran

These results have benefited from collaboration between the ABMI and various partners and contributors. More details are available in Collaborators and Contributors.

Figure: Moss Intactness. Intactness for moss species associated with old deciduous/mixedwood forest in the Al-Pac FMA area estimated for 2010 and 2016. Change in intactness over time for each species indicates predicted change in habitat suitability as a result of human footprint rather than actual measured change in species abundance. Bars indicate deviation from 100% intact; e.g, 75% intact indicates greater deviation from reference conditions than 99% intact, while the bars' direction indicates whether the species decreased or increased in abundance relative to reference conditions. Both positive and negative deviations from reference result in lower intactness.

Sector Effects

Local-footprint Sector Effects

To understand which industrial sectors are most impacting moss species associated with old deciduous-mixedwood forests in the Al-Pac FMA area, the local-footprint figures show how species' relative abundance is predicted to change within each footprint compared to the habitat it replaced (Figure: Local-footprint Sector Effects).

  • All types of human disturbances decrease habitat suitability for moss species associated with old deciduous/mixedwood forests in the Al-Pac FMA area because these activities impact their preferred habitat.
  • Within forestry footprint, the populations of all but two old forest moss species are predicted to be less abundant than expected compared to the habitat it replaces.

Sector Effects on Regional Moss Populations

The regional population figure shows the predicted change in the total relative abundance of old forest moss species across the Al-Pac FMA area due to each sector’s footprint (Figure: Regional Sector Effects).

  • Regional effects are much less than under-footprint effects because a great deal of old forest moss habitat has not been disturbed by human footprint in the Al-Pac FMA area.
  • Regional population effects of transportation, energy and urban/industrial footprint on mosses associated with old deciduous forest were small—between -2.0% and 0.3%. 
  • Forestry footprint resulted in the largest predicted changes to suitable habitat for most old forest mosses—on average -4.7%—because harvesting is the largest footprint type in the FMA area and disturbs the most native vegetation. Forestry footprint occurs primarily in three forest types: 47% of forestry footprint is in deciduous forest, 26% in White Spruce forest, and 21% in mixedwood forests.

To view species-specific sector effects, use the drop-down menu to select a species of interest.

Figure: Local-footprint Sector Effects. Predicted percentage change in species relative abundance inside areas that have been disturbed by each sector within the Al-Pac FMA area compared to the habitat it replaces. Sector effects values <0% indicate a negative response to a particular sector and >0% indicate a positive response.
Figure: Regional Sector Effects. Percentage change in species relative abundance due to the footprints of each industrial sector in the Al-Pac FMA area. Total effects values <0% indicate a predicted decrease in the regional population due to a particular sector and >0% indicate a predicted increase.



Turestsky, M.R., B. Bond-Lamtery, E. Euskirchen, J. Talbot, S. Frolking, A.D. McGuire, and E-S. Tuittila. 2012. The resilience and functional role of moss in boreal and arctic ecosystems. New Phytologist 196:49-67.


Sanderson, L.A., McLaughlin, J.A., and P.M. Antunes. 2012. The last great forest: a review of the status of invasive species in the North American boreal forest. Forestry 85(3): 329-339.


Lindo, Z., and A. Gonzalez. 2010. The bryosphere: an integral and influential component of the Earth's biosphere. Ecosystems 13:612-627.


Hazell, P., Kellner, O., Rydin, H. and L. Gustafsson. 1998. Presence and abundance of four epiphytic bryophytes in relation to density of aspen (Populus tremula) and other stand characteristics. Forest Ecology and Management 107(1-3):147-158.


Hart, S.A. and H.Y.H. Chen. 2008. Fire, Logging, and overstory affect understory abundance, diversity and composition in boreal forest. Ecological Monographs 78(1):123-140.


Caners, R.T., MacDonald, S.E., and R.J. Belland. 2013. Bryophyte assemblage structure after partial harvesting in boreal mixedwood forest depends on residual canopy abundance and composition. Forest Ecology and Management (289): 489-500.

Flat-brocade Moss (Platygyrium repens)
Photo: ABMI

Effective Human Footprint

Effective Forestry Footprint


This report is in partnership with