Bryophyte Research Projects

Ray Tangney, Head of Lower Plants,
Alan Orange, Curator of Lichens,
Department of Biodiversity & Systematic Biology, National Museum Wales

Flora Malesiana taxonomic treatments

Staff: Ray Tangney

The Flora Malesiana project is an international project utilising the voluntary contributions of specialists from all over the world to produce a Flora of Malesia (the islands between Australia and Indomalaya). The moss volumes are being coordinated by the Natural History Museum, London. Our involvement in this project comes from expertise in the moss family Lembophyllaceae. The taxonomic treatments will form part of a web-based Flora and a subsequent book.

Moss Flora of New Zealand taxonomic treatments

Staff: Ray Tangney

Taxonomic treatments are being prepared as contributions for a new Flora of mosses currently being produced for New Zealand. The moss families under study, the Lembophyllaceae (a group of feather mosses) and the hair cap mosses (Polytrichaceae) are both relevant to the UK moss flora. The genus Isothecium, common in woodlands, is related to Australasian members of the Lembophyllaceae, and in the Polytrichaceae of New Zealand there are several species which also occur in Britain, including Wales.

Systematics of feather (pleurocarpous) mosses: Isothecium

Staff: Ray Tangney

The feather moss genus Isothecium occurs throughout the northern hemisphere and is common in the woodlands of Wales. Species of Isothecium exhibit wide morphological variation and many varieties have been described in the past, with some elevated to species rank and others considered not worthy of recognition.

This project has two main aims: to utilise molecular (DNA) data to investigate the genetic basis of the morphological variation within and between species, and to investigate the relation between Isothecium and its closest relatives and the position of Isothecium in the broader classification of feather (pleurocarpous) mosses.

Morphological and Molecular Variation in Marsupella emarginata

Staff: Ray Tangney, Alan Orange & Katherine Slade

The leafy liverwort, Marsupella emarginata occurs throughout the northern hemisphere. In Britain, it is split into three varieties; emarginata, aquatica and pearsonii separated by habitat and morphology. However, there is doubt as to the status of these varieties as they overlap significantly in many aspects of their morphology and habitat requirements, making it difficult to identify specimens with certainty. This may indicate that the variation shown by Marsupella emarginata is entirely due to habitat and that the varieties lack a genetic basis.

In this project, molecular analyses of the complex will be combined with critical morphological data with the aim of resolving the problem and to give a clearer picture of this species in Britain. Molecular support for the varieties would indicate that the varieties are justified and are a result of ongoing evolution within Marsupella emarginata.

As one of the few sub-specific molecular analyses undertaken on leafy liverworts, this project will also benefit future molecular research on this group of organisms.

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