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 Moss Project of Thailand



The Moss Flora of Thailand (MFT) contains 60 families, 256 genera, and 830 species. It is estimated that the Flora represents about 25% and 75% of all mosses known in Asia and the mainland Southeast Asia, respectively. The mechanism of the proposed project is to synthesize knowledge of Thai mosses accumulated over last three decades by the PI of this project and the Thai colleagues through a joint international effort. A complete taxonomic account of Thai mosses with illustrations and distribution maps will be published in four printed volumes and all information will be made available online, including a fully searchable interactive database of all species treated in the flora. The updated authoritative information will be used worldwide by researchers in interdisciplinary studies, most notably ecological and biodiversity studies as well as by those working in conservation and land management. The basic information presented in the MFT will also be useful in gathering data on global patterns of moss species richness in different parts of the world.


  The MFT represents the richest moss diversity among the Greater Indochina regions (Tan & Iwatsuki 1993). Phytogeographically, Thailand is situated in an important region forming a land bridge between the Malayan and Sino-Himalayan floras. In northern part of the country plants are very poor in dry lowlands, but grow vigorously in moist evergreen forests that are developing at altitude above 1,000 meters. The mosses of high elevations in the north exhibit close affinities to those of eastern Himalayas and southwestern China, such as many species of the Brachytheciaceae, Entodontaceae, Hylocomiaceae, Neckeraceae, and Thuidiaceae. In the south, most species occurring there belong to the so-called Malayan elements known from Malay Peninsula, Java, Sumatra, and its archipelago, for example species of the Calymperaceae and Sematophyllaceae. It appears that the Himalayan elements possess a distribution range from Himalayan mountains, eastwards to southwestern China, upper Myanmar, northern Thailand into Laos and northern Vietnam. Occasionally, these elements have their ranges up to Taiwan and the southern edge of Japan, but they have rarely extended southwards beyond the central plain in Thailand. The Malayan elements clearly predominate in the “Peninsula” and southeastern Thailand (Iwatsuki 1972). In the case that some species were reported from both northern and the Peninsular Thailand, these species often have a much wider distributional range. These elements usually moss

occur throughout tropical Asia with a pantropic and paleotropic distribution pattern. The characteristics of diverse distributional patterns demonstrated by Thai mosses are primarily due to the large Central Plain and the Korat Plateau in the east that both have a dry climate and both are situated intermediately between monsoon and tropical regions. Topographically, a broad zonation belt is formed in the central, which separates the country into two geographic regions: one in the north and northeast and the other in the southeast and the “Peninsula”. In a biogeographical standpoint Thailand is divided into two floristic regions, so-called the Sino-Himalayan region and the Malayan region. Indeed, Thailand contains one of the tectonically most important and complicated terrains in Asia extending from north to south with 15 degrees of latitude differences (6º–21º North). The complicated topography and diverse climates, coupled with its great latitudinal difference, have resulted in enormous vegetational and floristic diversity.


Project Contact:

Si He, Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63110. E-mail: si.he@mobot.org

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