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COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Columbian Carpet Moss in Canada

Special Significance of the Species

Bryoerythrophyllum columbianum is a western North American endemic that is relatively common in portions of south-central Washington State but is rare in southern British Columbia. The British Columbia populations possibly represent the northern extension of its range in North America, depending on the taxonomic status of the collection from the Northwest Territories.

This species may be of some ecological importance. When present as a component of biological soil crusts,Bryoerythrophyllum columbianum is probably a contributing element in a healthy shrub-steppe community (Belnap et al. 2001). These crusts are comprised of a complex of lichens, bryophytes (mainly mosses), fungi, vascular plant roots, and cyanobacteria. Crusts have a number of ecological functions in a healthy shrub-steppe community, including reducing soil erosion and increasing available nutrients. In British Columbia, like many areas elsewhere, these crusts are heavily impacted by trampling of grazing animals, in particular cattle. Recovery of these crusts follows reduction in trampling pressure, either through alteration of grazing patterns, or through elimination of grazing altogether.

Further, it is a characteristic species in the endangered Purshia tridentata ecosystem in the south Okanagan Valley.