Cryptogam invertebrate associations (Literature study)

Beginning:      Open
Duration:        8 weeks, unpaid
Credits:            12 ETC


Plants have a strong influence on soil organisms and there is often a feedback from the soil back to the plants. Such plant-soil interactions have been the focus of much research activity. However, the effect of other primary producers, such as mosses and lichens, on their associated food web have received far less attention despite the important role mosses and lichens play in various ecosystems on Earth, especially with regard to invertebrates (see pictures below). To expand the existing framework of plant-soil interactions to other primary producers we first need to identify common patterns that exist among cryptogam-invertebrate associations.

Springtails (Cryptopygus antarcticus) exploring moss vegetation

Oribatid mite (Alaskozetes antarcticus) exploring lichen crusts


In this literature study you are asked to summarize existing literature on cryptogam-invertebrate associations and identify if there are consistent patterns? Which aspects or characteristics of the cryptogam species drives the abundance and species richness of associated animals? Does nutrient concentration of cryptogams support higher abundance/diversity? Do water holding capacity and evaporation rates play a role? What is the role of temperature? Which other aspects could play a role within these associations?

Contact information

Stef Bokhorst is a researcher at the Department of Ecological Science working on climate change impacts and the role of invasive species in polar regions.
Alternative contact: Prof. Matty Berg

If this topic appeals to you, please email
Faculty of Science, VU Amsterdam.
Dept. of Ecological Science, subdept. Systems Ecology, room A-159.
Address: De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam