Bryophytes and Pteridophytes: spore-bearing land plants
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The Living Planet: The State of the World's Wildlife
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Spore-bearing land plants are much fewer in number than flowering plants, with around 20,000 bryophytes and 12,000 pteridophytes, but they have a much longer history, with the first recognisable land plant fossil dating from the Silurian. Bryophytes and pteridophytes are not a significant food source for man, nor do they provide essential commodities like timber or cloth, but they have a significant role in maintaining healthy ecosystems and storing carbon, and bryophytes deliver key ecological functions in arctic, boreal and peatland ecosystems. The major threats to bryophytes and pteridophytes are habitat loss and climate change, followed by overexploitation. Global conservation assessments are available for just 1.5 percent of bryophyte species and 5.7 percent of pteridophytes. However, progress towards an accessible worldwide flora is growing through international collaboration and coordination, and molecular studies are increasing understanding of relationships between species, genera and families.
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