[Taxacom] moss circles

Dave Jefferies d.w.jefferies at shu.ac.uk
Fri Mar 23 06:18:04 CDT 2007

The patterns are intriguing.

I think that mollusc grazing, or any grazing on the surface, is unlikely -
no 'turning circles' for a grazer to move from one track to the next.

Fungal causes are unlikely, I would expect something more like a fairy ring.
Of course the lichen comparison does challenge this. (And see below)

Is there an underlying pattern in the bark or wood? This would give
variations in the substrate that may be reflected in the moss growth. Fungi
could then be associated if they had grown out from gaps in the bark, as
could sub-surface grazing by insects sheltering under the bark. 

Were there examples of completely brown rings or where the gaps between the
brown regions were narrower? They may provide better clues.


-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Ken Kinman
Sent: 22 March 2007 14:58
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] moss circles

    Well, I don't know the answer, but I will add another possibility.  
Given that these were found in late winter, could this pattern be the result
of slowly receding patches of ice (or snow)?  Each ring of moss could form
at one favorable time of day along the wet edges of the sheet of ice.  At
night the thin edges of ice would just evaporate leaving a ring of drier
wood surface.  The next day another wet ring forms (along the receding ice)
that would be suitable for the moss.

    Of course, the drier "rings" would eventually get wet and the moss would
fill in those gaps, but in the meantime you could have a tree-ring pattern
of alternating moss and drier wood.  I would think this would be more likely
if the ice patch was in the shade and not in direct sunlight, but this is
all just an educated guess.
             Ken Kinman
>From: Charles R Parker <chuck_parker at usgs.gov>
>To: <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
>Subject: [Taxacom] moss circles
>Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 08:23:34 -0400
>Recently, circles were discovered in moss living on barkless pine logs 
>in an area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.  A 
>good number of logs having moss had the circles.  Examples can be 
>viewed at 

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