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Mosses and liverworts (bryophytes) are one of the most characteristic phenomena of the tropical montane rainforest. On Mt. Kinabalu, they exhibit the typical aspect of the “mossy forest”. Every visitor is faced with a large variety of shapes, sizes and colours. However, in contrast to flowering plants, very little is known about bryophytes. This booklet will give some information on this group of plants with special reference to the species occuring in Kinabalu Park, particularly the common species which are met by the visitor at Poring Hot Springs, the trails round the Park Headquarters and along the summit trail.
Although bryophytes can usually be identified with the help of microscope, there are many species which can be easily recognised in the field. The beauty of these plants, especially the smaller ones, is best observed with hand-lens (preferably 20x magnifications).
The author are members of the BRYOTROP project, devoted to the study of the bryophtes of tropical rain forest, supported by he German Research Foundation. The aims of this project are to collect bryophtes along transects from the lowland forests to the different parts of the tropics, carry out an analysis of the altitudinal distribution, particularly of the epiphytic bryophyte communities and to make ecological studies on the phytomass of bryophytes, their water capacity and climatic conditions affecting them.
In 1986, a transect was studied in the Kinabalu Park from the lowland forest at Poring to the Summit of Mt. Kinabalu. This gave an opportunity to the authors to expose these tiny but interesting group of plants, which play an important role in the tropical forest ecosystem, to interested visitors, by publishing a short introduction to the mosses and liverworts of Mt. Kinabalu. This plan was kindly accepted and promoted by the former Park Ecologist, Miss Anthea Phillips, and the Deputy Director, Mr. Francis Liew. We also grateful to the Assistant Director of Sabah Parks, Mr. Abdul Rahim Sidek, the secretary of Internal Affairs and Research, Chief Minister Department, Mr. Abdullah Hassan, and Mr. Nadiu from the Unit Penyelidikan Sosioekonomi, for their help and assistance during our fieldwork in Sabah.
Our special thanks go to Mr. Liew for the realization of this booklet in the Sabah Parks Publication series and Mr. H. Lunser (Berlin) for preparing the numerous drawings.
Duisberg-Berlin, April 1990 The authors