Field of Science

Bryology Logo Competition

Want to combine your artistic skills and your love of bryophytes? 
Design the new logo for the International Association of Bryologists

Information about the logo competition is below.


Dear colleagues and friends of the International Association of Bryologists (IAB),

In this digital age, we feel it is an opportunistic time to update our logo to one that keeps pace with the contemporary age but also reflects the mission and history of the association. The that both of us might not be talented enough.

Thus, the International Association of Bryologists (IAB) is therefore excited to announce an open competition for a new logo of IAB.

Please send your proposals by Dec. 1st to the acting president of IAB ( or the treasurer ( Proposals are welcome from IAB members as well as non-members. The IAB council will judge the proposals and the winner will be announced during the world conference of Bryology in Chile 2015. The winner will be awarded 300 USD. The second place winner will receive a five-year IAB membership.

The council is looking forward to your contributions!
Please help the society!
Your impact is highly desired, appreciated and important  for a vital association!

On behalf of the council
Dietmar Quandt & Matt von Konrat
Acting President         Treasurer

A Science Communication Activity on Birds and Bryophytes

Have you ever played the telephone game? In this game a phrase is whispered from one person to another with the players trying to repeat the phrase exactly the same. By the time the phrase makes it to the other end of the line it is often altered, sometimes dramatically so. The same can also happen to research as it is transmitted from a peer-reviewed scientific article to the popular media, such as a magazine or newspaper. One explanation for alterations to the research story is that scientists use language with lots of jargon and scientists often use many words that are qualifiers. Qualifiers are words that limit or enhance the meaning of another word. Most often when scientists use them it is to explain the scope and limits of their findings. All-in-all the language of science is significantly different from the language the news media uses to communicate with the public and the weight that is given to different terms and phrases varies between the two.

I think that science communication is an important concept for students who are training to be scientists to both ponder and explore. Thus I developed a team-based learning activity to walk students through the exploration of a scientific research article and the news media reporting on the findings. The main learning objectives of this exercise are for students to: 
-   Analyze the transmission of information from scientific publication to news media.
-   Identify absolute versus qualified statements.
-   Differentiate different organisms from bryophytes.

An additional goal of this exercise was to introduce students, potentially for the first time, to a scientific research article. Reading peer-reviewed research from beginning to end can be intimidating for science students. This activity has students explore the research article for information to compare to the news articles, resulting in students both learning how to find information in scientific papers and how to ground-truth science that is reported in the media.  

If you are interested in trying out this activity with your students I posted the materials that you will need online, via Google DriveIncluded in the materials is a detailed lesson plan, as well as a pre- and post- assessment (with a key) to measure student learning from the activity. Alternatively this activity can be modified to focus on any scientific paper from your field that has been covered in multiple news articles. 

The article that I used for this exercise was a publication studying whether migrating birds may be responsible for moving pieces of bryophytes from northern arctic regions to the far southern reaches of South America. 

The research article can be downloaded for free at the link below. 

The news articles covering this research are at BBC Nature NewsAudubon MagazineScience MagazineUConn Today, and Alaska Dispatch News.

If you use this activity with your students, it would be great to hear your thoughts about the exercise in the comments section below the post!

Mosses and the American Dipper

Mosses around the edge of the nest
The American Dipper is an aquatic songbird that captures all of its food underwater in fast flowing streams. The other interesting thing about these birds is that they use mosses in their nest construction. Last week I got to see some of them along the Payette River in Idaho. Some nests have mosses around the edge with the main body made from twigs, whereas others are roofed nests completely made of mosses. 
A nest made completely of mosses
underneath a bridge.
when I was in Idaho last week. 

Below are some additional views from the American Bryological and Lichenological Society fieldtrip into the hills of Idaho. 
A view of the Idaho hills

The Payette River

An American Dipper nest was
spotted on this rock jutting out
into the river. I took a photo,
but couldn't spot from the shore.

August 2014 Desktop Calendar

I met this moss, Scouleria aquatica, on the bryology field trip before this year's botany conference. In its current state it doesn't look very aquatic. It was growing on the rocks at the edge of the river in a zone that would be completely flooded in the springtime. During that time of the year it grows as a completely submerged aquatic moss. For the other part of the year it is high and dry for months at a time. When dry, they are in a state of suspended animation. Not photosynthesizing or growing at all

We added a bit of water to this patch and it made a dramatic change to the mosses appearance. The edges are gray, sandy, and dry, whereas the plants in the center are hydrated and green. It is amazing how rapidly mosses can take up water and start photosynthesizing. 

August Calendar

1 - Single click on the image to open it up in a new window. (If you use the image directly from the blog post you will lose a lot of resolution.)

2 - Right-click (or ctrl-click) on the image, and chose the option that says, "Set as Desktop Background" or "Use as Desktop Picture". The wording may vary.

3 - If the image does not fit your desktop neatly, you may have to adjust the image (Mac: System Preferences - Desktop and Screen Saver - Desktop; Windows: Control Panel - Display - Desktop) and choose "Fill screen" as the display mode of your background image.