3D Moss project holds an extensive three-day biocrust public workshop in the Mojave Desert
The workshop, entitled “Charismatic Microflora: The Ecology and Management of Biological Soil Crusts,” was held February 20–23, 2020 at the Desert Studies Center, Zzyzx, California, in the Mojave National Preserve.
The workshop was led by crust experts Matt Bowker, Tom Carlberg, Kirsten Fisher, Brent Mishler, and Mandy Slate, and was funded by the NSF grant, with logistical coordination by the Jepson Herbarium (UC Berkeley). The workshop combined classroom lectures with hands-on activities at the microscope, and visits to the field. Basic questions addressed include: What is a biocrust? What are biocrusts composed of? How are biocrust organisms identified? Where are biocrusts found? How do the organisms in biocrusts manage to survive and reproduce in such a seemingly harsh environment? What role do biocrusts play in ecosystems? How can biocrusts be managed?
The diverse group of 32 participants included land managers, consultants, agency botanists, ecologists and amateur plant enthusiasts. Shared meals and evening discussions allowed a wide-ranging exchange of knowledge about both basic science and applications to conservation and restoration of soil biocrusts. Here are a few pictures of group activities and some of the many charismatic crust organisms seen.
In March, nearly 70 bryologists and bryophyte fanatics took to San Luis Obispo county on the central coast of California to find bryophytes in their native habitats. This annual foray, called SO BE FREE for ‘Spring Outing; Botanical Excursion; Foray, Retreat, and Escape to the Environment,’ is a tradition started by PI Brent Mishler’s lab, now in it’s 24th year. The event is usually 3 nights/4 days and often takes place in a summer camp setting, complete with cabins and dining halls, and moves around the California floristic province. It’s open to beginners and experts alike, and we even occasionally look at the vasculars, too. This year was a great success–we had perfect weather and tons of fun!
Several 3D Moss researchers were there this year, including PI Brent Mishler and 3 of his graduate students working on the project (Jenna, Javi, and Caleb); PI Kirsten Deane-Coe and her student Quinn; and Sotodeh Ebrahimi, Mandy Slate, and John Brinda representing the Stark Lab.
Never before and never since have there been so many 3D Mossers in the same place at the same time as at the 2018 ABLS annual meeting. Several members of the group gave talks and we had fruitful half-day discussion; the first in-person meeting of (almost) everyone since the project began. At least one of us wasn’t really there for this photo… can you spot who?
Some of us endured long travel and altitude sickness at 10,000 ft at the University of Colorado Mountain Research Station, but it was worth it!
UNLV doctoral student, Theresa Clark, recently traveled to Argentina to co-instruct a biocrust outreach workshop. While on a field trip she did some moss hunting and spotted a species of Syntrichia high in the Andes Mountains! This population was looking rather stressed (red leaf tissue), perhaps from recent frost-desiccation events, or perhaps from over-exposure to radiation during unexpected decreases in winter snow pack, which leaves these cushions exposed to additional solar radiation when they would otherwise be protected under at least a thin layer of snow during the winter.