Mosses have developed 400 – 450 mio. years ago from green algae and settle in habitats that usually cannot be settled by other plants, e.g. places without nutrition or dark niches. Mosses take their nutrition and moisture from the air and from rain.
The reproduction of moss is partly done by spores and partly by breeding bodies. The spores are spread vastly via the wind in great quantities and enable the moss to disclose new habitats quickly in times of changing climate. The spores are in general fertile for many years.
The temperature optimum of local moss is at 15 – 20°C, whilst most mosses are true survival artists. In dry state some varieties can even survive freezing in liquid nitrogen at -196°C, as well as short term temperature maxima of 85 – 110°C. British scientists have even managed to revive a moss sample in an incubator with optimal growth conditions that had been frozen under the Antarctic ice for 1500 years.
Mosses defend themselves against nutritional competition by using substances with antimicrobial effects and can for example defeat fughi and bacteria. That is why they were used as wound compresses until World War I. Also most mosses contain ate retardant substances that protect them from herbivores like insects or snails.