[en] Aneura maxima ; bryophyte conservation ; GIS ; landscape ecology ; logistic regression ; umbrella species
[en] Testing whether rare species are limited by narrow habitat conditions from correlations between species occurrence and measured environmental factors is usually hampered by the lack of statistical power associated to the low number of observations. Aneura maxima is an exceedingly rare liverwort in Europe whose recent discovery precluded the inclusion within the Red Data Book of European bryophytes. A series of new observations resulting from intensive bryophyte grid-mapping at the border between France and Belgium allowed the statistical investigation of the factors accounting for its distribution at the landscape scale. The species was systematically observed in deep ravines on damp, loamy soils under light tree cover within broadleaf woodlands. These conditions differ from those of other European localities, suggesting that A. maxima is not limited by a narrow ecological range. Attempting to predict the occurrence of A. maxima at the landscape scale from data on land use and soil conditions resulted in a model where the species was actually observed in only a half of the squares where its probability of occurrence was the highest. The species thus does not seem to have colonized all its potential habitats, which may be explained by the poor dispersal ability of this dioecious, rarely fertile species. Given the relative frequency of A. maxima in the Semois river basin, but taking into account its seemingly low dispersal ability and its preference for swampy habitats that are threatened by draining and spruce plantations, a status as 'conservation dependent' to 'near threatened' within the category 'lower risk' is proposed.