Daniel Palmer and Paul Wilson will present back-to-back bryophyte talks 7:30-9:30 pm on 9 October, 2018, at the First United Methodist Church in Santa Monica. This is for the monthly program of the Santa Monica Mountains L.A. Chapter. Daniel will discuss the theory of how biodiversity differs in mosses and in flowering plants in his talk entitled “Biodiversity in Homosporous and Heterosporous Plants.” Paul will describe an electronic guide he is creating that catalogs the niches of mosses and organizes the species by guild. His talk is, “A hyperlinked eBook of moss niches and guilds.”
Anticiapte an open microscope day either 10 or 13 November, either in Santa Barbara or in Visalia. See event updates to find out details closer to November.
Save the date: Brent Mishler and Ken Kellman will teach their legendary weekend workshop “Introduction to Bryophytes” on 2-3 March, 2019, in the Jepson Herbarium Public Programs series. This time they will include material on the cryptobiotic crust soil community that brings together bryophytes, lichens, and algae (see article and photo in this newsletter for more about crusts). Details on how to sign up will be forthcoming at http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/workshops/.
Plans for SO BE FREE have changed since the last issue of Bryolog. The current tentative plan is to have it at Rancho El Chorro in San Luis Obispo, 29 March to 1 April 2019. Please hold the dates and watch event updates.
This quarter we had two very productive microscope days for intermediate bryo-enthusiasts. Read more…
In July, the cryptobiotic crust field trip traveled to another world! More…
Danny Slakey and Anna Larsen report on the status of inventoried Fissidens pauperculus.More…
This quarter Paul Wilson led two very productive microscope days for intermediate bryo-enthusiasts. In June we met at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo and Paul treated us to a slide show focusing on the finer points of identification before passing out specimens which we keyed as a group, including Hedwigia detonsa, Pseudobraunnia californica, Antitrichia californica, Brachythecium albicans, and Syntrichia princeps. We also used Nickte Mendez’s photographic key to California Orthotrichaceae, and tried out a similarly formatted draft key to Homalothecium by Christina Berry. In August we met at Cal State Northridge and focused exclusively on the genus Grimmia, testing out Daniel Palmer’s draft photographic key to the Grimmioidieae, another work in progress.
Cryptobiotic Crust Field Trip
Held in Tilden Park, Berkeley, CA, July 28, 2018
Led by: John Brinda, Brent Mishler, Javier Jauregui Lazo, and Caleb Caswell-Levy
Sixty-five members of the public participated in this field trip to another world: the cryptobiotic soil crust community. This understudied community is common on undisturbed soils in dry-land areas, and is a remarkable assembly of bryophytes, lichens, and free-living cyanobacteria and green algae. It has a major ecological role in preventing erosion, nutrient cycles, and seed germination. Desiccation tolerance and reproduction are two important biological topics that were discussed.
We took a hike to look at examples of this biocrust community, and to compare it with the other communities in which bryophytes live in the Berkeley Hills. Over an extended lunch break we had an informal talk/discussion about biocrusts, their role in nature, and threats they face. After the hike there was time for light refreshments, socializing, and further questions and answers.
Fissidens pauperculus (minute pocket moss or poor pocket moss) is an inconspicuous moss (<5 mm tall) that grows on moist, clay or consolidated (compact) silt-rich soils in the dense shade of coastal and Sierran forests. Fissidens pauperculus is endemic to western North America, and grows in California from Santa Cruz County in the south to the Oregon border. It occurs north of California in coastal Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. It is a special-status species in British Columbia, where is it only known from a few occurrences (Pocket Moss Recovery Team 2007). It was listed as a special status plant in Oregon before it was removed from the Oregon rare plant list due to being too common (surveys in the 1990s showed there were at least 25 extant occurrences; Christy 2006). It is not a special status plant in Washington, but we only found one occurrence in the entire State (CNABH 2018), and NatureServe (2018) ranks F. pauperculus as “Critically Imperiled” (S1) in Washington. Fissidens pauperculus was listed by CNPS as a California Rare Plant Rank (CRPR) 1B.2 plant in 2001.
There are a total of 32 known occurrences in California, 10 more than are currently listed in the CNDDB (CDFW 2018). Just over half of the occurrences have been documented recently (within the last 20 years). Many of the historical occurrences (last seen >20 years ago) are in the North Coast region, where additional surveys are needed. Most occurrences lack population size information, but it is generally sparse where it occurs in the Plumas National Forest (D. Toren pers. comm. 2018) and at two of the Bay Area occurrences we surveyed. There are 5 known inland occurrences from the northern Sierra Nevada, which were first documented in 2002. This part of the Sierra Nevada is in a high-rainfall zone with climatic conditions similar to the Coast Ranges, and has several other mosses that are otherwise strictly coastal species (Dillingham 2015).
The sparse populations are often found in deep shade on the disturbed banks of ephemeral stream channels, on trailside embankments, or on steep and sometimes nearly vertical slopes. Fissidens pauperculus relies on the erosional forces in these microhabitats to expose the bare soil that it grows on (Christy 2006). The Moss Recovery Team (2007), for example, noted a patch of F. pauperculus in southwestern British Columbia that disappeared and then re-established following erosional events. The shifting nature of the habitat means that individual colonies of this moss may be ephemeral, even though it can persist in the general area of an occurrence for many decades. It is often found in coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) forests, but is also found in forests dominated by tanoak (Notholithocarpus densiflorus var. densiflorus), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), and incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens). Fissidens pauperculus often co-occurs with other Fissidens species, particularly the widespread lookalike Fissidens crispus. Epipterygium tozeri is another commonly associated moss.
For the field portion of this study, we performed surveys in the San Francisco Bay Area, in addition to background research on the status of this species throughout its range (presented above). In the spring of 2017, we found new occurrences of Fissidens pauperculus during a rare plant survey in Mt. Tamalpais State Park and in Muir Woods National Monument (Marin County), in the general vicinity of an historical occurrence. Following the discovery, in the winter of 2017-2018, we performed field surveys to check on the current status of three historically-documented occurrences of Fissidens pauperculus in the greater SF Bay Area. Survey results are summarized in the table below.
Date Last Seen
Alameda County: Berkeley Hills, Strawberry Canyon
2 December 2017
Not found, but probably still extant. Associate Fissidens crispus was abundant in marginal creekside habitat.
San Mateo County: Portola State Park (SL338)
31 March 1966
17 January 2018
Found. Only one small patch seen.
Sonoma County: Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve (SL332, SL337)
4 February 1951
28 December 2017
Found. Occurs in small, scattered patches.
Marin County: Fern Creek Canyon (SL252)*
n/a (new occurrence)
6 May 2017
Found. Locally abundant and widespread.
*Voucher numbers are abbreviated “SL” for Slakey and Larsen. All specimens were verified by Jim Shevock and David Toren and deposited at California Academy of Sciences (CAS) Herbarium.