Field of Science

Endangered Species Day

I just read over at Uncommon Ground that today is Endangered Species Day. In the spirit of the day I thought that I would share some information on endangered bryophytes.

In 2008, 95 bryophyte species (including mosses, hornworts and liverworts) were assessed to determine their threat level, habitat, and distribution. (The full report from the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) can be found here.)

The bryophytes have a detailed report that I was surprised to find on my shelf mashed among my other bryology books. I have linked to the report via googlebooks below. Looking over the report it has some really great information on bryophyte conservation in addition to the species list. They discuss the importance of bryophytes, which is critical for addressing "who cares?" questions that often surround these little plants. The answers that they highlight include: Ecological roles - water retention, peat formation, habitats for other organisms -- Pollution Indicators -- Economic and medicinal uses. Additionally large sections highlight the key habitats of bryophytes and their specific threats. They also examine these threatened species in a regional manner and discuss conservation measures that can be taken relating to bryophytes. 

I am definitely going to do a cover-to-cover read of this report before my next moss walk. (Not that I have any scheduled at the moment.) I think that it will really help me to organize and clarify my reasoning and arguments for the importance of bryophytes.

Happy Endangered Species Day!

Keeping up to Speed on the Bryology Literature

There is a phenomenal level of information and science production in the world today. Keeping up to speed on the latest research can be challenging. I have a list of keywords that I use to search through a couple different biological science search engines that the University of Connecticut subscribe (Web of Science and BIOSIS Previews). I try to run this search at least every other month.

Near the end of each volume of The Bryologist is a section entitled Recent literature on bryophytes. This is a great resource for keeping up to speed on the bryology literature. Listed in alphabetical order are a large number of bryology focused papers. I am not sure how the authors assemble this list. I would guess they do some searching using keywords through google scholar and have a list of bryology focused journals that they pull articles from. They also include articles published in languages other than english, but mention if there is an english abstract. If you missed the annual Botanical Society of America conference they include the bryology related abstracts in the list. I think that this is nice because it reminds me about the newest research that folks are working on in their laboratories. These presentations are often about research that is still a year or more away from publication. Doctoral dissertations and Master's degree theses are listed too. These publications can be pretty hard to locate, so it is quite nice that they are included. If the title does not have an obvious bryology connection or the species studied is not listed there is a brief note after the citation with this information.

Next time you are looking for the most recent bryology literature I would highly recommend checking out this list before searching around on your own.

The Evolution of Spores

The evolution of spores was a critical step in the transition of plants on to land. This paper discusses developmental transitions that may have transferred the formation of the spore wall from the zygote to the spores. I enjoyed reading the paper and thought that it was a really interesting developmental transition.