Field of Science

Bryophyte Research Podcasts

The American Bryological and Lichenological Society (ABLS) has started a podcast to feature current research on bryophytes and lichens directly from the experts. 

Episode 1 focuses on transcriptomics. Let me try to break this down for you. Transcripts are small messages (mRNA) that are copied from the DNA and are used as templates to make proteins. -omics refers to a field of study. So transcriptomics is the study of transcripts. When you compare the transcripts from different organs or different developmental stages it can point toward genes that are turned on and off between the two, indicating those genes that potentially make them different.  

Episode 2 is about the sex lives of bryophytes and lichens. Fortunately no explanation on the topic is needed there. 

The Genetics of Resurrection Plants

A great article from KQED Science about resurrection mosses. Scientists are learning more about these tough plants with the goal of using their genes to improve crop plants, so that they can better survive the drought conditions in California. 

Professional Website Update

I finally got around to revising my professional website. It was way out of date and could use some sprucing up. I originally had some large ambitions to switch to a Wordpress site with a sharp theme, but the learning curve was just too steep for me at the moment. So instead I just made some changes to my iWeb site and posted it up. 

The only issue I keep running into with this platform is that the spacing is difficult to get right. Something about the way the formatting is automatic and my inability to see behind the scenes to tweak it. If you have any other suggestions for different website platforms that you like it would be great to hear about them!

Bryology Foray in California

Want to experience the wonders of bryophytes in California? Consider attending SO BE FREE 21 (details below). I attended last year when we explored the mosses of the San Bernardino Mountains and the year before that when we were in the hills of Santa Cruz. They were both really great trips! I especially enjoy getting to spend time with both amateur and professional bryologists from across the state and country. It is a great networking opportunity to plug into the bryology community. Hope to see you at the next foray!

This is a photo from the 2015 SO BE FREE foray. I just realized that I hadn't downloaded the photos from my camera. A post with the highlights from that awesome foray will be coming soon!


The Twenty-First Annual
Spring Outing
Botanical Excursion
Foray, Retreat, and Escape to the Environment

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!    SO BE FREE  21    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 Brought to you by the new Bryophyte Chapter of the California Native Plant Society!

Friday to Monday, March 18-21, 2016
North Coast Range near Occidental, California

Coordinators: Stephen Rae, David Hutton, Kiamara Ludwig

Founded in 1996, SO BE FREE is a series of West Coast forays started by the Bryolab at UC Berkeley, but open to all botanists. The main focus is on bryophytes, but we also encourage experts on other groups to come along and smell the liverworts.  We welcome specialists and generalists, professionals and amateurs, master bryologists and rank beginners.  SO BE FREE is held each spring, somewhere in the Western US, associated with spring break at universities.  Evening slide shows and informal talks are presented as well as keying sessions with microscopes.  In addition to seeing interesting wild areas and learning new plants, important goals for SO BE FREE include keeping West Coast bryologists (and friends) in touch with each other and teaching beginners.  To see pictures and information from past outings, visit the SO BE FREE website at:

 One important function of this year's SO BE FREE will be to serve as the first annual meeting of the brand new Bryophyte Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, which was just founded May 30th, 2015.  See: for details, and to join!

The 2016 SO BE FREE will be held in the North Coast Range approximately 1.5 hour north of San Francisco.  Although adjacent Marin County has been the subject of a moss flora, and the Lake County Moss Flora by David Toren will soon be released, Sonoma County has not yet been treated floristically.  The county has marine sandstone deposits, volcanics, serpentine, and riparian habitats, supporting a wide range of bryophytes.  Participants will see coastal prairie, coast redwood forest, live oak woodland, serpentine chaparral, and chaparral scrub.

Beginners are very welcome to SO BE FREE, and this year we will have a special, expanded workshop session for beginners on Friday afternoon at the start of the event.  That session will include slide shows and discussions on bryophyte biology and natural history, and be augmented by mosses and liverworts on display (and under the microscope).  Saturday, Sunday, and Monday morning we will have field trips to satisfy all participants from neophyte to expert! 

See: for more details about housing and meals, and the registration form.  Room reservations will be filled on a first come first served basis, soplease register early!  Early Registration Deadline is Dec. 15, 2015.  Regular registration Deadline is Feb. 19, 2016.

July 2015 Desktop Calendar

Some lovely liverworts from Chile to grace your desktop this month!

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 Image as Desktop Picture" or "Save Image As...". The wording may vary. (If saving the image to your computer is the only option, then locate it on your computer and choose the "Set as Desktop Background" or "Use Image as Desktop Picture" option from there.)

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.