Field of Science

A Visit to the Miniature Forest - Brochure

 Insights into the biology and evolution of Bryophytes in Northeastern Connecticut

The naturalist walking through the forests and wetlands of Northeastern Connecticut searches for the hidden flowers and listens to the songs of the birds. The mosses and liverworts that cover the trail bank, color the tree trunks in shades of green and form soft cushions or carpets on the boulders, typically pass unnoticed. Yet several hundred species of Bryophytes occur in our region, and provide important services to the ecosystem, including partially controlling water movement, decreasing erosion, and providing microhabitats for numerous invertebrates. They can even dominate the vegetation in an area or, as in rainforests, compose a majority of the biomass in a local area.

Bryophytes are common, diverse and locally abundant. A closer look at their architecture, habitat, and life history provides insights into the ecological roles of bryophytes, the challenges encountered by plants on land and the solutions to some of these obstacles. This guide is not a field guide to the bryophytes of the forest. Accurate identification of bryophyte species often requires observation of microscopic characters. The guide aims to highlight some of the species common to the area and to raise awareness of bryophytes as a component of our forests, presenting aspects of plant biology through the “eyes” of a bryophyte.

Please contact Dr. Bernard Goffinet ( to order printed color versions of this brochure. Printing fees of approximately $3.50 per brochure may apply.

Credits: These resources were developed by Jon Swanson, M.S. (Edwin O. Smith High School, Storrs, CT), Jessica Budke, M.S., and Bernard Goffinet Ph.D. (Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT) funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (DEB-0919284).

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