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Journal of Bryology

Journal of Bryology

Journal of Bryology, the journal of the British Bryological Society (BBS), exists to promote the scientific study of bryophytes (mosses, peat-mosses, liverworts and hornworts) and to foster understanding of the wider aspects of bryology, such as the role of bryophytes in human affairs, and the lives of notable bryologists. It is an international botanical periodical which publishes original research papers in cell biology, anatomy, development, genetics, physiology, chemistry, ecology, paleobotany, evolution, taxonomy, applied biology, conservation, biomonitoring aspects and biogeography of bryophytes, and also significant new check-lists and descriptive floras of poorly known regions.

Visit the journal homepage for top articles, instructions for authors and subscription information.

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Meet the Editor:
Dr Elizabeth Kungu

Dr Elizabeth Kungu was invited to become the Managing Editor for the Journal of Bryology in 2009, to take over from Howard Matcham. In many ways this has been an unconventional route to becoming the editor of an international scientific Journal. After studying at Durham University, (BSc) and Queen’s University, Belfast (MSc) Liz joined the Nature Conservancy, the UK’s then nationwide conservation body, as a member of the peatland research team based in Edinburgh. Although employed as a general field botanist, this was the start of a lifelong interest in the bryophytes which are such an important component of this beautiful habitat.  

Read more about Dr Elizabeth Kungu...


History of the Journal 

The present Journal of Bryology evolved from the Transactions of the British Bryological Society which was first published in 1947, with the four parts of volume 1 spanning 1947-51. Early contributors included many of the stalwart bryologists of the day, such as Paul W. Richards, E.F. Warburg and Eustace Jones. The early volumes included the Bryological Notes which continue to this day, and much of the administrative information of the society, including the accounts and the Notes and Proceedings of the Society. Although the title specified the British Bryological Society the Society’s publication has always had an international focus, earliest contributors included many European authors; the first description of new species was Prof. Herzog’s 1948 account of Mastigolejeunea sudanensis Herz. from the Sudan and Ptychocoleus rupestris from Kenya, and in 1950 Herzog described 36 new hepatic taxa from Borneo. The Journal’s role in publication of new taxa is a tradition that continues to this day. 

Read the full history of the journal...

What is Bryology?
Sharon Pilkington


Ask the average person in the street what a bryophyte is and you will most likely be met with a blank look. This is a shame, because bryophytes are all around us and their fragile beauty is a joy to behold. Loosely speaking, bryology is a term coined to cover the study of three groups of lower plants – the mosses, liverworts and hornworts. Like higher plants such as herbs, grasses, and trees, they produce food through photosynthesis. However, they lack the anatomical adaptations that allow higher plants to grow large and structurally robust.

Read more from Sharon about bryology for beginners...

A short history of the British Bryological Society Dr Mark Hill

Like its big sister, the Botanical Society of the British Isles, the British Bryological Society emerged from a club for exchanging botanical specimens.  Unlike that society, it has never had its records destroyed by an enemy bomb, nor did it suffer the stifling domination of ‘King Druce’ in the 1920s.  If the BBS had a king, that person was Paul Richards (1908-1995), who joined as a boy in 1920 and was twice its president.  Unlike Druce, Richards was an academic botanist, who fostered a collegiate culture in his kingdom. The Moss Exchange Club (MEC) began in 1896 with 23 members.  It grew slowly, dividing for a period into two separate sections, one for experts and the other for beginners.  The MEC held its first field meeting at Dolgellau in 1922.  Following this, the BBS was formally constituted on 1 January 1923.  It brought together the two sections of the MEC and provided for two principal activities, the continuing annual exchange of specimens and an annual field meeting (Richards, 1983).  Until 1939, the BBS remained an amateur society, though with increasing numbers of professional scientists and overseas bryologists.

Read the full article by Dr Mark Hill, BBS Recording Secretary...


Name that Bryophyte!

Correctly identify as many UK bryophytes as you can to be in with a chance of winning a subscription to Journal of Bryology!

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Email your answers* to, along with your full name. Use the subject line 'Name that Bryophyte'.

*By submitting your answers, you are opting in to join our bryology mailing list.

Images courtesy of Ian Atherton, Editor of Field Bryology; British Bryological Society Council member.

Want to submit a paper to JBR? Visit Editorial Manager for more information...  

Meet the Scientific Editors

Professor Jeff Duckett

Professor Duckett discusses his work, recent research trips and the Journal of Bryology.

All images from the video can be viewed, along with descriptions, by clicking on the link below.

See more photographs from Professor Jeff Duckett...


Dr Jeff Bates
Thoughts from a long-serving editor

In 1968 when I began my first degree, many British universities offered degree courses in botany and often there were one or more teaching staff specialising in lower plant biology including bryology, the scientific study of mosses and liverworts, a major segregate of the Plant Kingdom. During my lifetime, biology has undergone a spectacular transformation and the old division of the subject along taxonomic lines, has been supplanted by one based on unifying themes such as cell signaling, evolutionary biology, genetics and immunology. Even the once fundamental distinction between zoology and botany has been shown by molecular analyses to be a very blurred one that is no longer supportable. The last British university will say goodbye to its final cohort of botany graduates in 2013. Interest in plants, among British students at least, seems to be at an all-time low despite reasonable employment prospects for graduates. The wider science of biology, including zoology and some elements of ‘plant science’, however continues to go from strength to strength during what is clearly the subject’s golden age. Where does this leave bryology, not to mention the Journal of Bryology?

Read the full article from Dr Jeff Bates...


Dr Alain Vanderpoorten
Oceanic Islands 

Island biogeography has historically been, and remains, a research area of prime importance for the advance of biology. It was in an island setting that Darwin, Wallace McArthur and Wilson, among others, presented what have become the major key theories on evolutionary biology and ecology. Oceanic islands hence appear as natural laboratories of evolutionary and biogeographic processes and Wallace suggested that understanding evolutionary processes within an island context is a key to understanding the same mechanisms in the more complex continental settings. Theory predicts that island populations should be less variable and more genetically differentiated relative to source populations. Differentiation of island populations is further enhanced by one of the most striking syndromes displayed by island taxa: their typical loss of dispersal power as a result of either absence of predation and/or competition in the island setting, or counter-selection against high dispersal ability associated with the risk of massive individual loss to surrounding sea water. As a result, islands have traditionally been considered as the 'end of the colonization road'.

Read more from Dr Vanderpoorten's about island biology...


Dr Maria Teresa Gallego
Dry climate bryophytes - Po

This striking family of mosses has aroused the interest of several groups of bryologists around the world. As well as the South American work detailed below, over the last decade the Journal of Bryology has reported genera and species of Pottiaceae new to science from Europe, South Africa, India and Thailand in addition to new data on distribution, taxonomy, ecology and physiology. Since 2007 six new genera have been reported, five of these: Ludorugbya, Acaulonopsis, Algaria, Picobryum and Vrolijkheidia, from South Africa by Hedderson & Zander and one, Indopottia, from India by Daniel, Raja & Daniels. Ten new species of Pottiaceae have been described in the Journal over the last decade, and as well as the distributional accounts listed below there are also records in the New National and Regional Bryophyte Records column.

Read more from Dr Maria Teresa Gallego about arid land bryophytes...


Dr Neil Bell

Moss phylogeny: new solutions to long-standing problems

For people not familiar with mosses, it may be a revelation to discover that these mostly small organisms comprise one of the most diverse and varied major groups of land plants, with a long evolutionary history that certainly pre-dates flowering plants and probably also all other so-called “vascular” plants. This ancient pedigree has left us with a number of well-defined major groups that are very distinct from each other (arguably differing more fundamentally than the major groups of seed plants), as well as a great variety of families and genera within them. Many of the latter are superficially similar due to evolutionary convergence despite not being closely related. Because mosses are relatively simple organisms and are found in a range of distinctly different microhabitats, it is often difficult to distinguish similarities resulting from shared ancestry from those that have arisen independently under the same ecological constraints, for example those imposed by an epiphytic lifestyle.

Later this year the Journal of Bryology will publish a special volume containing a selection of phylogenetic papers based on presentations made at a symposium held at the 2011 International Botanical Congress in Melbourne. This volume will thus provide a state-of-the-art collation of current research into the subject and should be an invaluable reference source in the coming months and years.

Read the full article from Dr Neil Bell...

Tropical Bryology Group

Jo Wilbraham

The reasons for setting up a tropical bryology group in the BBS were probably first formally stated in Royce Longton's paper to the BBS Jubilee Meeting in 1983 where he wrote persuasively of the urgent need to speed up the advancement of bryophyte taxonomy in the tropics. The tropics, in comparison to temperate zones, were extremely under-researched bryologically.  This is still true of many tropical areas today, some twenty years later. By 1989, a specialist Tropical Bryology Group (TBG) of the BBS was firmly established, principally led by Brian O’Shea and Martin Wigginton, with the aim to encourage and promote research on tropical bryophytes. It was considered especially important to encourage collaboration and cooperation between the members of the TBG and bryologists living and working in the tropics.

Read the full article by Jo Wilbraham, Tropical Bryology Group Co-ordinator...

BBS Conservation and Recording Committee

Nick Hodgetts
Conservation in the BBS

As a society dedicated to the study of mosses and liverworts, one of the chief concerns of the BBS is the conservation of these lovely little plants. Like most other parts of the natural world, bryophytes are under ever-increasing pressure from human activities, and it is the responsibility of those who know about them to look out for them. For this reason, the Society has a Conservation Officer and a committee that meets twice-yearly to discuss issues relating to bryophyte conservation. We try to make sure that bryophytes are not damaged or threatened by Society activities – a relatively easy matter these days, as nearly all bryologists are sympathetic to nature conservation; but years ago there was some very irresponsible collecting of rarities.

Read more from Nick Hodgetts about conservation...


Dr Chris Preston
BBS and bryophyte recording

One of the first aims of the BBS, soon after its foundation as the Moss Exchange Club, was to bring together records of bryophytes into a national synthesis. The distribution of mosses at the county level was summarised in ‘census catalogues’ for liverworts and hornworts in 1905 and for mosses in 1907. For over 50 years the maintenance of an updated census catalogue remained the Society’s sole recording activity, but in 1960 the launch of the BBS Mapping Scheme heralded the start of a new period of activity. Since then the data contributed by the Society’s volunteer recorders have contributed to our understanding of the distribution, ecology and conservation in an increasing number of ways.

Read more from Dr Chris Preston about the BBS and bryophyte recording...


Visit the BBS website to view the full list of regional recorders and their duties, the checklist of British and Irish Bryophytes, and all other recording matters.

View FREE CONTENT online!

From 1 February to 15 March 2012 we are offering free access to all content in the Journal of Bryology from the last 3 years.

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Discounted subscription rates!

Throughout February we are offering 20% off Journal of Bryology AND New Journal of Botany:

Journal of Bryology

New Journal
of Botany

Mosses and Liverworts of Britain and Ireland: A Field Guide

The want of a field guide has for many years greatly hindered further spread of interest in British and Irish field bryology. By filling this gap in the market, this guide makes a group of plants that has largely been the realm of specialists into an accessible and popular interest for naturalists, reaching far beyond the current pool of bryologists, and into the wider community of naturalists beyond.

Published in 2010 by the BBS, the guide represents the Society’s first foray into publishing for the non-specialist, and is the result of an unprecedented, co-ordinated collaboration involving over 50 members, fulfilling the Society’s objectives to promote the study of mosses and liverworts.

With full species accounts covering 75% of Britain’s bryoflora, and notes on the remainder, this is the only up-to-date, user-friendly guide to identifying British and Irish bryophytes in the field. Hundreds of colour photographs and black and white drawings show what species look like, and easy-to-read, detailed notes enable the user to identify and distinguish similar species. Habitat notes and distribution maps show where the species occur.

View a page sample here.

To order, go to the BBS website. The guide is available at a price of £24.95 per copy (+ p&p for overseas purchases). If you have any queries regarding ordering, please contact Sean O'Leary.

You can view accounts of species, the keys and galleries, and other introductory material online .



3rd International Conference of the Pakistan Botanic Gardens Network, 2 – 4 February 2012, Lahore, Pakistan

"The Role of Botanic Gardens in Conserving Natural Vegetation”.
Conference themes include conservation and habitat restoration, botanic Gardens and gene banks, and ecotourism. Read the conference announcement for more information or contact the Conference Organizing Committee.


Vienna International Plant Association Conferences,
February 2012

The Vienna International Plant Conference Association will welcome 40 speakers per conference as well as many presentations selected from abstracts.

Conference topics this year include:

- Molecular Ecology
- Molecular Mapping & Marker
  Assisted Selection
- Plant Growth, Nutrition &
  Environment Interactions
- Plant Abiotic Stress Tolerance

Find out more about this conference now


PlantSci 2012
18 - 19 April 2012
John Innes Centre, Norwich

UK Plant Sciences Federation (UKPSF) - Providing one voice for all those involved in Plant Science. Come and join us at PlantSci 2012, the inaugural conference of the UKPSF which has been established to showcase the wealth of Plant Science undertaken in the UK.  

Find out more about this conference now.


Botany 2012 - The Next Generation, 7-11 July, 2012
Columbus, Ohio

Join the largest gathering of botanists at the annual meeting
of premier societies including the
Botanical Society of America, and the American Bryological and Lichenological Society.

Find out more about this conference.

Free Trials

If you are interested in trialling Journal of Bryology, or any other Maney journal, we will be happy to set this up for you individually or your institution.

We now offer trials of our MORE Collections to libraries for up to 6 months entirely free of charge via IP or password - whatever your requirements are!

We can also help run a usage campaign to ensure your institution makes the most out of this access.

These free trials can give a genuine feel for our content, helping you to assess how important it is for your library.

For more information, please email me on or to sign up visit the free trial page.

Journal of Bryology is a MORE OpenChoice journal. MORE OpenChoice is Maney's hybrid open-access publishing model which works alongside the traditional subscription model.

The free dissemination of sponsored papers is an important step in maximizing the impact of research, particularly in the developing world. To prevent any inappropriate influence, or conflict of interest, authors opt for MORE OpenChoice only once a paper has been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication.

Find out more information about submitting an OA paper.

Want to submit a paper to JBR?

Language Editing

Authors submitting to the Journal of Bryology may wish to use a language-editing service before submission. The Charlesworth Group offers language-editing services in the Science, Technology, and Medical fields. Maney authors using this service will receive a 10% discount on language-polishing services.

For more information, please visit the language editing page.

Join the British Bryological Society

To become a member of the BBS please apply online. There are a number of benefits which include:

- Meetings including workshop weekends, symposia on specialised themes, paper-reading sessions, demonstrations, a field excursion and the AGM.
- The BBS Bulletin, providing readers with news, notices and articles of general interest.
- Projects for members including recording of bryophyte distribution and involvement in the compilation of a Red Data Book of endangered species.
- A panel of referees is ready to help with bryophyte identification.
- An herbarium of voucher specimens may be consulted on request.
- An extensive library of bryological books and reprints is maintained for the benefit of members.
- The Reading Circle circulates to subscribers the contents lists of main overseas bryological journals as they are published.

To apply now or for more information, please see the BBS website.

Bryology for the Twenty-First Century
Published by the British Bryological Society, and edited by Dr Jeff Bates, N W Ashton, and Professor Jeff Duckett, this book is a compilation of state-of-the-art papers on key topics in bryology from invited speakers at the Centenary Symposium, University of Glasgow, 5–7 August 1996. 

Read the full table of contents

View pricing information.

Also of interest...

New Journal of Botany is the journal of the Botanical Society of the British Isles and an important forum for communicating the results of botanical studies relating to the vascular plants and charophytes of northern and western Europe. Visit the journal homepage for more information.

The new issue, Volume 1, Number 2, has just been published! View the table of contents here.