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Two additions to the moss flora of the South Shetland Islands in the maritime Antarctic

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Tortella fragilis (Drumm.) Limpr. (Pottiaceae) and Bryum nivale Müll. Hal. (Bryaceae) are recorded for the first time from the South Shetland Islands in the northern maritime Antarctic. They were discovered in the Admiralty Bay area on King George Island, the largest island of this archipelago. The two species are briefly characterized morphologically, their habitats are described, and their distribution in the Antarctic is mapped. Discovery of these species has increased the documented moss flora of King George Island to 67 species, strengthening it in the leading position among individual areas with the richest diversity of moss flora in Antarctica. Likewise, T. fragilis and B. nivale represent remarkable additions to the moss flora of the South Shetland Islands, which currently consists of 92 species and one variety, making this archipelago by far the richest bryofloristically amongst large geographic regions of the Antarctic. Comparison of recent (2018) and old (1985) photographs revealed a significant retreat of glacial cover and suggests that the collection site was likely opened for colonization only within the last several decades. The record of T. fragilis is biogeographically relevant, and constitutes an intermediate site between the species’ occurrences in the Antarctic Peninsula and southern South America. The present record of B. nivale is the fourth discovery of the species worldwide, which may be helpful for the future designation of the distribution of this extremely rare species.

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Article 3598 [8p.],fig.,ref.


  • Department of Botany and Nature Protection, Faculty of Biology and Environmental Protection, University of Silesia in Katowice, Jagiellonska 28, 40-032 Katowice, Poland
  • Molecular Biogeography Group, W. Szafer Institute of Botany, Polish Academy of Sciences, Lubicz 46, 31-512 Krakow, Poland
  • Molecular Biogeography Group, W. Szafer Institute of Botany, Polish Academy of Sciences, Lubicz 46, 31-512 Krakow, Poland


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