Technical Description: Plants (1) 4-9 mm tall, green or yellow-green at the tips and reddish-brown near the base, sometimes branched. Leaves 1-1.6 mm long, stiff and imbricate, ovate to ovate-lanceolate, the tips acute, margins entire and recurved in the middle of the leaf, plane at base and apex; cells each with 1-4 papillae, quadrate above the basal area, basal cells quadrate to short-rectangular; costa strong, with two stereid bands, excurrent as a short point (mucro), usually expanding somewhat between the middle and tip of the leaf to form a more or less conspicuous mass of bulging tissue that fills the acumen, giving the leaf tips a thickened, fleshy appearance. Dwarf plants may be barely 1 mm tall and form sods of erect, imbricate, reddish-brown lanceolate leaves with blunt tips, partially recurved margins, and a strong costa at back. Seta 6-10 mm long, twisted. Capsules rare, 1-1.4 mm long, dark brown, erect, cylindrical, smooth, peristome rudimentary or absent. Distinctive characters:A soil crust moss with (1) erect, imbricate, reddish-brown lanceolate leaves with blunt tips and partially recurved margins, and (2) the costa expanding distally to fill the leaf acumen with tissue. Similar species: Didymodon brachyphyllus (= D. vinealis var. brachyphyllus) has the same reddish-brown color but has (1) deltoid-ovate leaves that are blunt and hooded at the tips (cucullate), (2) a longitudinal groove on the adaxial side of the costa with the adjacent costal cells quadrate, and (3) the costa not expanding distally. Other descriptions and illustrations:Hermann and Lawton 1968: 387 (as Didymodon columbianus); Lawton 1971: 96 (as Didymodon columbianus); Lewis 1981: 536; McIntosh 2004; Zander 2007: 566.
Life History: Details for Bryoerythrophyllum columbianum are not documented. The protonema is inconspicuous, forming buds and shoots in the usual fashion of moss growth and development.
Range, Distribution, and Abundance: British Columbia, California, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Bolivia (Lewis 1981).
National Forests: none documented or suspected. BLM Districts: none documented; suspected on the Prineville, Spokane, and Vale districts because of proximity to known sites (Department of Defense: Boardman Naval Weapons Systems Training Facility, Morrow Co., Oregon; Hat Rock State Park, Umatilla Co., Oregon; Tom McCall Preserve, Wasco Co, Oregon; Horse Heaven Hills and Hanford Reach National Monument, Benton Co., Washington). Although not in close proximity to known sites, Burns and Lakeview BLM Districts may have likely habitat.
Scarce in the Pacific Northwest but probably undercollected.
Habitat Asociations: In the Pacific Northwest, Bryoerythrophyllum columbianum is a component of biological soil crusts (previously called "cryptogamic," cryptobiotic," or "microphytic" crusts) in arid shrub-steppe and grassland habitat. It occurs as individual plants or forms loose to dense sods over rock, soil, or sand in grassland and sagebrush steppe at elevations below 4,000 feet. It may be common locally but is most frequent in least-disturbed, well-developed soil crust communities on silt loams of moderately low pH (McIntosh 2003a, 2003b). Vascular plant associations are Pseudoroegneria spicata and Poa secunda with varying amounts of Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis.
Threats: Grazing, OHV traffic, and to a lesser degree fire are the primary threats to Bryoerythrophyllum columbianum because these are the three main factors that negatively impact biological soil crusts. Soil crusts are fragile and extremely vulnerable to being pulverized by livestock and vehicle tires. Tire tracks may remain visible up to 20 years after damage has occurred. Well-preserved biological soil crusts are rare in the Pacific Northwest because grazing has been so pervasive and few areas have escaped impacts. A few known sites were inaccessible to livestock or vehicles, while others have been excluded from grazing for up to 65 years and are in various stages of recovery.
Conservation Considerations: Revisit known localities and monitor the status of the populations. Search for new populations on federal and state lands with high-quality biological soil crusts, particularly those with protected status. Survey for intact biological soil crusts in suitable habitat and protect the best sites; fencing (or similar) may be necessary to prevent trampling and OHV use.
Conservation rankings: Global: G2G4; National: NNR. British Columbia: S2, Red List; California: SNR; Oregon: S2, List 2; Washington: S2, Working List. Canada: Special concern (McIntosh 2004).
Preparer: John A. Christy
Date Completed: June 2007
Edited by: Rob Huff, July 2007
References Hermann, F.J. & E. Lawton. 1968. A new species of Didymodon (Bryophyta) from Oregon and Washington. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 95: 387-389.
Lawton, E. 1971. Moss Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Hattori Botanical Laboratory, Nichinan, Japan. 362 pp.
Lewis, M. 1981. Prodromus Bryologiae Andinae II. Bryoerythrophyllum columbianum disjunctively distributed between steppes of northwestern U.S.A. and Bolivia. Bryologist 84: 536-538.
McIntosh, T.T. 2003a. An assessment of lichen and bryophyte biodiversity and biological soil crust community relationships in the Hanford Reach National Monument. Report to The Nature Conservancy of Washington. Biospherics Environmental, Vancouver, British Columbia. 54 pp.
_______. 2003b. Biological soil crusts of the Hanford Reach National Monument. Pp. 23-42 in: Evans, J.R., M.P. Lih & P.W. Dunwiddie (eds.), Biodiversity studies of the Hanford Site. Final report to U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Nature Conservancy of Washington, Seattle. 156 pp.
_______. 2004. COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Columbian carpet moss Bryoerythrophyllum columbianum in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. vi + 19 pp.
http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/virtual_sara/files/cosewic/sr%5Fcolumbian%5Fcarpet%5Fmoss%5Fe%2Epdf Norris, D.H. & J.R. Shevock. 2004a. Contributions toward a bryoflora of California: I. A specimen-based catalogue of mosses. Madroño 51: 1-131.
_______ & _______. 2004b. Contributions toward a bryoflora of California: II. A key to the mosses. Madroño 51: 133-269.
Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center. 2007. Rare, threatened and endangered species of Oregon. Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center, Oregon State University. Portland. 100 pp.
http://oregonstate.edu/ornhic/2007_t&e_book.pdf Washington Natural Heritage Program. 2005. Working list of mosses. Washington Department of Natural Resources, Olympia.
http://www.stage.dnr.wa.gov/nhp/refdesk/lists/mosses.html Zander, R.H. 2007. Bryoerythrophyllum. Pp. 565-569 in: Flora of North America Editorial Committee. Flora of North America north of Mexico. Volume 27. Oxford University Press, New York. 713 pp.