Evaporation from mosses and lichens can form a major component of the water balance, especially in ecosystems where mosses and lichens often grow abundantly, such as tundra, deserts and bogs. To facilitate moss representation in hydrological models, we parameterized the unsaturated hydraulic properties of mosses and lichens such that the capillary water flow through moss and lichen material during evaporation could be assessed. We derived the Mualem-van Genuchten parameters of the drying retention and the hydraulic conductivity functions of four xerophilous moss species and one lichen species. The shape parameters of the retention functions (2.17<n<2.35 and 0.08<α<0.13cm-1) ranged between values that are typical for sandy loam and loamy sand. The shapes of the hydraulic conductivity functions of moss and lichen species diverged from those of mineral soils, because of strong negative pore-connectivity parameters (-2.840<l<-2.175) and low hydraulic conductivities at slightly negative pressure heads (0.016<K0<0.280cm/d). These K0 values are surprisingly low, considering that mosses are very porous. However, during evaporation, large pores and voids were air filled and did not participate in capillary water flow. Small K0 values cause mosses and lichens to be conservative with water during wet conditions, thus tempering evaporation compared to mineral soils. On the other hand, under dry conditions, mosses and lichens are able to maintain a moisture supply from the soil, leading to a higher evaporation rate than mineral soils. Hence, the modulating effect of mosses on evaporation possibly differs between wet and dry climates.
- Hydraulic conductivity
- Retention function