Does anyone happen to have any papers mentioning the exact evolutionary benefits of stem-base death in acrocarpous mosses? Evidently, their tallness is responsible to some degree, as the tops are known to starve the lower parts of light. Blocking the light from their own bottoms seems (superficially) like an inefficient/counterproductive growth habit, though.
The dying is frequently mentioned casually by research, but little if any science seems to have been done on it. All I could find on Google were some vague comments mentioning that the dead bottoms of Sphagnum may help it survive drought by sponging water. However, I do suspect that it may be analogous to the death of rosette centers in certain lichen species, which reportedly increases gas exchange.