Selecting and Testing Cryptogam Species for Use in Wetland Delineation in Alaska


  • Robert W. Lichvar
  • Gary A. Laursen
  • Rodney D. Seppelt
  • Walter R. Ochs



Alaska, wetlands, delineation, bryophytes, indicators, mosses, Alaskan wetland supplement, mushrooms, lichens, cryptograms


To support the determination of hydrophytic vegetation in wetland delineations in Alaska, USA, a series of tests were conducted to develop a group of “test positive” species to be used in a “cryptogam indicator.” In 2004, non-vascular cryptogam species (bryophytes, lichens, and fungi) from Interior and South-Central Alaska in the vicinities of Fairbanks and Anchorage were collected at a series of ten 50 × 50 cm plots along two 30 m transects in each of six upland and five wetland sites. Nineteen moss and liverwort species were selected from 86 species surveyed to test for wetland fidelity. In 2005, a plot-based analysis of frequency and cover data yielded a revised list of 17 bryophyte species that were specific to wetland communities dominated by black spruce, Picea mariana (P. Mill.) B.S.P. Fungi and lichens were found to be inadequate wetland indicators in the sampled locations because the lichen species were sparsely distributed and the fungi were too ephemeral. The cryptogam indicator was thus restricted to bryophytes. Also in 2005, bryophytes were analyzed for their presence on microtopographic positions within the landscape, including tops of hummocks and hollows at the bases of hummocks. Upland bryophyte species were found on hummock tops inside the wetland boundary, but were not abundant in the hollows (p < 0.05). The fidelity of the species selected for use in the cryptogam indicator was tested. It was determined that if more than 50% of all bryophyte cover present in hollows is composed of one or more of the 17 wetland bryophytes tested in 2005, then vascular vegetation can be considered to be hydrophytic (p < 0.001).