Bryolog 7 (24 Feb 2017)


As a general policy, check the website for event updates before you walk out the door!

  • Last moment to register for SO BE FREE imminent.
  • Brent Mishler and Ken Kellman will offer their legendary Introduction to Bryophytes workshop 4-5 March in the Jepson Herbarium’s public workshop series. This workshop, first offered in 1995, has helped many to get started down a mossy path. Saturday is a full day on campus with microscopes. Sunday morning is on campus for a continuing lab session, while Sunday afternoon is a local field trip to learn to recognize major bryophyte groups. Registration details are on
  • From 9:00-3:00, on 4 March, Rich Spjut and Paul Wilson will lead a moss walk, in Kern River Canyon. Meet 9:00 in Bakersfield at the furniture store called “Tuesday Morning” on the corner of Fairfax and Auburn streets, north of exit 7 off Hwy 178 and carpool from there. For more info, email
  • At the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, on 13 March: (1) 5:30 bryophyte keying session; (2) 7:30 talk on bryophytes—both by Ken Kellman.
  • Then, Ken will lead a walk concentrating on soil bryophytes at the Arboretum at UC Santa Cruz, 18 March, 10:00 am. Bring a hand lens.
  • In cooperation with the San Gabriel Mountains Chapter, we will be offering a pair of events. (1) Come to a hike from Buckhorn camp on Saturday 13 May. We promise a handout with photos. Meet at 8:00 at the base of Highway 2 just north of the exit off of the 210 at La Cañada Flintridge to car pool. Bring an adventure pass if you have one, water, and food if you plan to eat. (2) The next day, on Sunday 14 May, at 10:00, we will have a follow-up microscope session at CSU Los Angeles, Annenberg Science Complex, La Kretz Hall, Room 344. People may come to either or both.
  • Cathy Chambers and Paul Wilson will lead a walk on Saturday 17 June at Feather River College in Quincy, starting at 9:30 am. We will be in the field in the morning then go into the lab in the afternoon. More details to be published in May.

Quarterly Report

  • Rain has been regular this winter. Sporophytes are maturing. ‘Tis the best year in a long time for photographing mosses in excellent reproductive condition.
  • Winter moss walks have been full of success, with very respectable numbers of participants, about 30 for the Orange County walk and a bit more than that for the San Luis walk—thanks to the liaisons and locals who organized everything.
  • We’ve had some changes on the Chapter’s Board of Directors, most notably Jim Shevock is now President Elect. We thank Drs. Steve Rae and Brent Mishler for their service during the Chapter’s first year.

Timeless Bits

  • New grant to study dryland mosses. More…
  • Several mossy novelties were published recently in MadroñoArchidium crassicostatum is a new and long-overlooked species,” say David Toren, Ken Kellman, and Jim Shevock. “Campylostelium laegerae is a new species, while C. pitardii is newly reported to the Americas,” say John Brinda, David Toren and Jim Shevock.
  • Between a rock and a hard place. More…

New grant to study dryland mosses

A major new grant from the National Science Foundation began in January, with the goal of studying desiccation tolerant mosses in the lineage Syntrichia. The project involves integrated studies of biodiversity at all dimensions, ranging from genomes, to physiology, development, population genetics, systematics, and ecosystem function. The total budget is nearly two million dollars. This ought to infuse new life into academic bryology in western North America!

The research will be done by a diverse team, including Lloyd Stark (University of Nevada, Las Vegas), John Brinda (Missouri Botanical Garden), and Kirsten Deane-Coe (St. Mary’s College of Maryland), whose labs will study physiological ecology of different species and life stages of Syntrichia; Kirsten Fisher (Cal State LA), whose lab will study population genetics of S. caninervis and S. ruralis including sex ratios; Brent Mishler, whose lab will study phylogenetic systematics and evolution of the whole group; Matt Bowker (University of Northern Arizona), whose lab will study Syntrichia as part of the important cryptogamic crust community in western North America, including the likely effects of climate change; and Mel Oliver (University of Missouri, Columbia), whose lab will sequence the genomes of S. caninervis and S. ruralis and apply cutting edge DNA sequencing techniques to help evaluate the results of the physiological, ecological, and evolutionary studies.

The research will examine tradeoffs between asexual and sexual reproduction, and between phenotypic plasticity and canalization into specialized genotypes, by examining the mechanisms underlying traits that drive diversification, reproduction, habitat selection, and physiological trait evolution in environments with varying degrees of water stress. The overall goals are to understand the evolutionary and ecological processes that have produced and maintained functional diversity at these different levels of organization, and to promote training of postdocs and graduate students, formal teaching, and public outreach. Look for opportunities to learn more through a short-film series, a citizen science program “Citizens of the Crust,” and free public workshops.

Between a rock and a hard place

Mosses can live in some of the most extreme and unique environments in the world, from brutally cold Antarctica, to nutrient poor serpentine outcrops, and even in the hottest and driest deserts in the world. But that’s not all! Within each of these environments, mosses occupy even stranger microenvironments, perhaps avoiding stresses or simply trading in one for another. In the Mojave Desert, wherever you find crystalline semi-translucent rocks such as quartz, limestone, or marble, you might find flourishing mosses underneath. These hypolithic mosses experience benefits like longer hydration periods after rainfalls and reduced UV radiation, but also have to be able to perform photosynthesis with very little sunlight. In fact, light reaching them can be as little as half of one percent of full intensity sunlight, and they are thriving! We are only just beginning to understand how microhabitats like these shape the ecology and evolution of mosses.

—Jenna Baughman

three photos

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