Ohio bryology

OHIO BRYOLOGY AND THE MOSS ATLAS:
HISTORY AND PROGRESS

by Barbara K. Andreas. Originally appeared in OBELISK, the newsletter of the Ohio Moss and Lichen Association, v. 8 no. 1. (2011).

Note: A printable copy of the Ohio moss atlas map can be downloaded HERE (25 MB .pdf document).

The publication of A Catalog and Atlas of the Mosses of Ohio (Snider and Andreas, 1996; hereafter referred to as the “Atlas”) instigated a new interest in Ohio bryology.  Dr. Jerry Snider, Professor of Biology, University of Cincinnati, and perhaps the modern “father” of Ohio bryology, provided guidance and encouragement to undergraduate and graduate students, and a group of professional and amateur Ohio bryologists. A few of the Ohio group, including me, have carried on Jerry’s interest in Ohio bryophytes.  Jim Toppin and Janet Traub continue to collect in northwest Ohio, and until his death in 2009, Donn Horschler (along with his collecting companion Roger Troutman) made significant collections from central Ohio.

The publication of the Atlas tied much information together. It briefly summarized a history of Ohio moss investigations, including a list of important scientific works completed to date.  Many of the non-herbarium based county records cited in the Atlas came from these, especially from Bob Geisy’s (1957) checklist.  The Atlas provided a list of Ohio mosses, updated nomenclature, nomenclatural synonymy, and county distribution maps.  After Geisy’s 1957 checklist, much field work had been achieved (for instance, Allen, 1983; Snider and He, 1993).  These works resulted in additional Ohio-based herbarium specimens as well as published checklists for specific sites that were incorporated into the 1996 Atlas.  Finally, the Atlas provided motivation and passion that fueled the modern renaissance in Ohio bryology.  From just a handful of professional and amateur cryptogamic botanists in 1996, there are now dozens of individuals exploring Ohio ecosystems in search of species new to Ohio or to Ohio counties.  Cryptogams are now part of Ohio’s rare plant list (www.dnr.state.oh.us/dnap), and new and noteworthy collections are presented at the Ohio Botanical Symposium.

Immediate Results after the Publication.  The maps in the Atlas provided a county-by-county distribution of moss species showing that some very common mosses had been overlooked in otherwise well-collected counties, and that some counties had been entirely overlooked.

Beginning in 1996, Diane Lucas and I began visiting Ohio natural areas, parks, and private properties in order to “fill in the blanks.”  For example, the Atlas had no moss records from Jefferson County, so we concentrated on that county and produced a bryophyte flora consisting of 115 mosses, 17 liverworts, and 1 hornwort (Andreas and Lucas, 2006).  Diane and others increased the moss flora of Erie County from 99 to 156, and Lorain County from 89 to 161.  John Atwood and Carl Chuey (2004) collected in counties in the vicinity of Youngstown State University, and provided a total of 271 new county records.

After the publication of the Atlas, I began to track down literature-based records that seemed inconsistent. I visited, or requested specimen loans from, herbaria at Missouri Botanical Garden, University of Michigan, New York Botanical Garden, and Duke University. An example of a “stray dot” was Paraleucobryum longifolium, reported as growing in Tuscarawas County. This species is typical of northern boreal forests or high elevation areas.  That herbarium specimen was located at the Missouri Botanical Garden and had been annotated as Dicranum scoparium.

 Additional taxa were added to the Ohio moss flora.  Some came from field work (such as Brachythecium velutinum, Pohlia bulbifera, and Trematodon longicollis).  A few new taxa were added from Volume 27 of the Flora of North America North of Mexico (2007).  For example, Dicranum undulatum had been collected by Floyd Bartley in Jackson County, and the record was located in an out-of-state herbarium.

All new county records, new species, and updated records (from literature citations to actual herbarium specimens) were recorded by placing new dots on a “master set” of the distribution maps.  In addition, all changes were kept in a notebook where information for each taxon was recorded (for instance, the herbarium where the specimen was housed, any literature citation, and any relevant herbarium label information). Diane Lucas eventually converted these records to a database.

New Bryological Herbaria.  When the Atlas was published, the University of Cincinnati was the most active Ohio bryophyte herbarium.  In 1998, under the curatorship of John Freudenstein, I started a bryophyte herbarium at Kent State University (KE).  Early entries were from material collected while working at the University of Michigan Biological Station, and from collections made while surveying Ohio peatlands (Andreas and Bryan, 1990).  A small but historically important bryophyte collection by Almon Rood, an amateur botanist in northeastern Ohio, that had been stored in shoeboxes on top of herbarium cases, was included.

From 1998 to 2011, the Kent State University Bryophyte Herbarium grew to about 12,000 specimens.  Specimens came from material collected on regional forays such as the Andrews and Blomquist Forays, exchange programs with the Missouri Botanical Garden, participation in the ABLS moss exchange, acquisition of exsiccatae, and donations by Diane Lucas, Sam Mazzer, Rob Curtis and others.

About the same time, Diane Lucas began organizing the bryophyte collection at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (CLM).  This collection includes primarily her donations, an historical collection by Edo Claassen, and collections by Jim Bissell and others.  There are approximately 3,300 bryophyte specimens at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Formation of the Ohio Moss and Lichen Association.  With the publication of The Macrolichens of Ohio (Showman and Flenniken, 2004), Ohio had county dot distributions for mosses and lichens.  Ray and I discussed the formation of a group that would continue to add information to the crytogamic collections of Ohio.  At the Ohio Botanical Symposium of 2004, an announcement was made about an organizational meeting for the Ohio Moss and Lichen Association (OMLA) at the Gorman Nature Center (Lexington, OH) on June 3, 2004.  The first annual foray was held October 22-24, 2004 at the Edge of Appalachia Preserve System in Adams County (Andreas, Showman and Zloba (2005).

Since then, OMLA has conducted two forays a year which concentrate on under-collected counties.  OMLA members alternate organizing forays.

Don Flenniken started the OMLA newsletter, OBELISK, in 2005.  Its name is based on the obelisk-style tombstone over the grave of William Starling Sullivant, perhaps Ohio’s best known bryologist.  Don was editor of the newsletter until 2007 when Ray Showman joined him as co-editor.  Don stepped down as co-editor in 2010 and was replaced by Janet Traub.  OBELISK contains four regular columns: 1) Left Hand Corner (a forum for ideas, opinions and editorials), 2) Moss Musings (featuring bryophytes and written by me), 3) Wanted Alive (featuring rare or extirpated lichens and bryophytes and authored by various members), and 4) News and Notes, in which announcements and small informational items are placed.  The newsletter also contains articles by members including reports of that year’s  forays.

In 2008, Brian Gara and Bob Klips, with technical assistance from Steve McVey, developed a website (www.ohiomosslichen.org) for OMLA. This site maintains an on-going history of the organization, meeting announcements, moss and lichen information relevant either to Ohio or the organization’s members, and archived issues of OBELISK.

The Combined Crum and Tuckerman Workshops.  In 2006, Ray Showman and I organized a joint meeting of the Crum and Tuckerman Workshops in Ohio.  It was the 13th meeting of the Tuckerman Workshop, and the 3rd meeting of the Crum Workshop. This combined workshop brought non-Ohio professional and amateur cryptogamic botanists to the state.  The end result was the re-discovery of three presumed extirpated mosses (Anomodon viticulosus, Weissia sharpii, and Thuidium allenii), and three new Ohio species of macrolichens, Heterodermia pseudospeciosa, Parmotrema gardneri, and Physcia pumilior (Andreas, Showman and Lendemer, 2007).

The Ohio State University Input. In 2006, Cynthia Dassler became Curator of Cryptogams at the Museum of Biological Diversity, The Ohio State University.  She organized the bryophyte collection by repackaging some of the historical collections and by updating nomenclature. Diane Lucas, Jeff Rose and I are surveying the bryophyte collection, and have found new county records through annotating the specimens.

Bob Klips, Jeff Rose and Cynthia are adding new collections to the herbarium, especially from a private natural area in Hocking County, OH.  Jeff Rose, and Carole and Bill Schumacher are concentrating on collecting specimens from central and northwestern Ohio.

The Museum of Biological Diversity has become the unofficial “headquarters” for OMLA.  Cynthia plans and hosts the annual meeting and identification workshops.

The Mapping Process.  The database originally created by Diane Lucas has been currently being converted to digital maps by a committee of OMLA members. Bill Schumacher created dot maps using GIS software.  Bob Klips is added scientific and family names using Photoshop.  Jim Toppin and Janet Traub created 88 separate county species lists using Microsoft Excel.  There is now available on the OMLA website a clean, printable copy in Portable Document Format (pdf), and a clickable Ohio map that brings up county lists and range maps.

All additions to the Ohio moss distribution maps are specimen-based.  In order to maintain its accuracy, a process similar to that used by the Ohio Rare Plant Council will be adopted.  All changes will be presented in writing to the OMLA membership at its annual meeting.  The information required will be the location of the herbarium specimen.

Summary.  The history of Ohio bryology probably began with William Starling Sullivant, considered by some to be the “father” of American bryology (Snider and Andreas, 1996).  He began collecting around 1840 and a copy of his “Musci alleghanienses” is housed in the Rare Book Room at The Museum of Biological Diversity, The Ohio State University.  Several of Sullivant’s Ohio collections (for example, Scorpidium scorpioides and Platydictya minutissima) have never been re-collected.  These remain a mystery.

It might seem that, with more than 170 years of collecting, the Ohio moss checklist would be complete.  Yet each year something new is added to the checklist.  In 1996 the Atlas contained 385 species and 15 varieties. Today there are approximately 420 moss species reported from Ohio. At the end of the Atlas, Jerry Snider included 30 blank maps.  I think he meant that as a challenge to future Ohio bryologists.

– Barbara K. Andreas

 Literature Cited

 Allen, Bruce H.  1983.  Mosses new to Ohio.  Castanea 47: 56.

Andreas, Barbara K. and Gary R. Bryan.  1990.  The vegetation of three Sphagnum-dominatedbasin-type bogs in northeastern Ohio.  Ohio J Sci. 90:  54-66.

Andreas, Barbara K. and Diane L. Lucas.  2006.  The bryophyte flora of Jefferson County, OH.  Castanea 71:  162-171.

Andreas, Barbara K., Ray E. Showman and Mark H. Zloba.  2005.  The formation of the Ohio Moss and Lichen Association, and a Report of the First Fall Foray to the Edge of  Appalachian Preserve System, Adams Co., OH. Evansia 22 (3):  92-99.

Andreas, Barbara K., Ray E. Showman and James C. Lendemer. 2007.  The combined             Crum/Tuckerman Workshop in Ohio.  Evansia 24 (3):  55-71.

Atwood, John J. and Carl F. Chuey.  2004.  Additional county records and confirmations to the moss flora of Ohio.  Evansia 21(1):  43-48.

Flora of North American Editorial Committee.  2007.  Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 27.  Bryophyta, part 1.  Oxford University Press, NY. xxi + 713 p.

Geisy, Robert M. 1957. Studies in Ohio bryophytes.  Ohio J. Sci. 57 (5):  290-312.

Showman, Ray E. and Don G. Flenniken.  2004.  The Macrolichens of Ohio.  Ohio Biological Survey Bulletin New Series Volume 14 Number 3.  iv + 279 p.

Snider, Jerry.A. and  Si He. 1993. Observations on mosses new or rare to Ohio. Evansia 10: 68–70.

Snider, Jerry A. and Barbara K. Andreas 1996.  A Catalog and Atlas of the Mosses of Ohio.  Ohio Biol. Surv. Misc. Cont. No. 2 iv + 105p.