“Mosses are from Mars, Vascular Plants are from Venus”
Guest Speaker: Brent Mishler

7:30 p.m. – Online Zoom Presentation preregister HERE

Blond Hugger Homalothecium_nuttallii

Brent Mishler is the President, CNPS Bryophyte Chapter
Distinguished Professor, Department of Integrative Biology
Director, University and Jepson Herbaria, University of California, Berkeley

The bryophytes are the most diverse set of land plants aside from the flowering plants. The group includes three quite distinct lineages: mosses, hornworts, and liverworts; some familiar species are frequently encountered in mesic forests and along streams, while a number of less familiar species are in tropical rain forests, arctic tundra, and desert boulders. The bryophytes have an ancient history —they are remnant lineages surviving today from the spectacular radiation of the land plants in the Devonian Period, some 400-450 million years ago. Yet despite their diversity, phylogenetic importance, and key roles in the ecosystems of the world, study of many aspects of the biology of bryophytes has lagged behind that of the larger land plants, perhaps because of their small size and how few scientists specialize in them. In this talk, you will hear a summary of what we do know about their biology, as an encouragement for you to get to know them better.

Two questions to intrigue you: Are bryophytes biologically like their larger cousins, just smaller versions? If not, in what ways does bryophyte biology differ from that of the larger vascular plants? The short answers: No, and, in almost every way possible! The groups didn’t evolve on different planets, but their differences could almost make you think they did. They certainly adopted very different approaches to being land plants on this planet. Many aspects need much more study, but what is known about bryophyte biology suggests that in general the bryophytes differ in most ways in their genetics, physiology, ecology, and evolution from vascular plants.

Brent D. Mishler is Director of the Jepson Herbaria at UC Berkeley, as well as Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology, where he teaches phylogenetic systematics, plant diversity, and island biology. He received his PhD from Harvard University in 1984, then was on the faculty at Duke University for nine years before moving to UC Berkeley in 1993. His research interests are in the systematics, evolution, and ecology of bryophytes, especially the diverse moss genus Syntrichia, as well as in the phylogeny of green plants. He is also interested in more general topics involving the theoretical basis of systematic and evolutionary biology, such as phylogenetic methods and the nature of species. He has been involved in developing electronic resources to present plant taxonomic and distributional information to the public, and for research applications of these data, including to the California flora. He is one of the founders of, and current President for, the CNPS Bryophyte Chapter.