Flabellidium spinosum, a bryophyte (moss), was never honored with a common name. This species is known only from the original specimen collected in the Tres Cruces Cordillera near Santa Cruz, Bolivia, in 1911. It is a representative of all the species that slip, unnoticed, into oblivion when an ecosystem is destroyed.
F. spinosum was a fragile moss with fronded, yellow-green branches growing to only about 1 cm in height. From study of the type material, it is believed that F. spinosum was the sole representative of its genus (Enroth, 1995).
Bryophytes are dependent on water for acquisition of nutrients and for completion of their reproductive cycle. In turn, bryophytes play a major role in maintaining an ecosystem's humidity level by their ability to absorb and retain water. Bryophytes are used as indicators of ecosystem health, because any change in water, soil, or air quality caused by pollution or other factors, will have an impact on their growth. The area in which F. spinosum was collected has been cleared of its forest to make way for agriculture, and along with the forest have gone the many organisms that formed the fragile web of life.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature monitors the status of species at risk of extinction. This organization has given its most dire assessment of the status of F. spinosum: "We consider that there is no reasonable doubt that the last locality for this species has been destroyed and that the last individual has died" (Hilton-Taylor, 2000).
See also: Bryophytes; Extinction, Direct Causes of Bibliography
Enroth, Johannes. 1995. "Commentary on the Moss Genus Flabellidium (Brachytheciaceae)." Fragmenta Floristica et Geobotanica 40: 743-747; Hilton-Taylor, Craig. 2000. 2000IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN Publications Service Unit.
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