Rehydrating the Quest for Moss

When this year started, I bought a microscope. I thought if I could just pop the plants under a microscope, I'd finally be able to use those keys to ID every little clump of moss I came across. Was I ever wrong about that! Feeling a bit discouraged, I decided to try out my new toy on the water in a nearby pond. This new alien world of diatoms and ciliates was so exciting that I've almost entirely neglected my original mossy mission since that day. That is, until I went on a trip—nay, a pilgrimage—to one of the world's bryophyte biodiversity hotspots: The Olympic Peninsula. As it turns out, my water samples were mostly sparsely inhabited by microbes large enough to see under a microscope. But the ubiquitous mosses never failed me. There was even moss growing on the sidewalk—not just around the cracks between sidewalk blocks, but on the surface of the sidewalk itself.

Before this pilgrimage I had gotten burnt out with not just moss, but iNat itself. A neverending backlog of observations to be uploaded, old water samples sitting around waiting for me to microscopically examine, a million observations to ID, and just as many ID'd ones needing to be revisited. I'm just tossing all that old baggage away now, though it pains me. (But what if that one photo I took at a forgotten location happened to be something special!)

The things I like best are bryophytes and microbes, and that's what I need to stick with from now on. Other things are fun, but it takes too much time to deal with them. I am the kind of person who needs to spend a week camped out in one spot closely examining everything within walking distance instead of going off on some foolish quest to survey an entire peninsula in five days. There is still so much to learn just about moss. Even though I've looked at thousands of photos of moss on iNat, I still didn't recognize some of the common species I came across until I pulled up the photos I took of them on my monitor. There is something about the way typical iNat photos are taken that doesn't present the full story, so the hunt must continue.

Publicado el 21 de septiembre de 2019 a las 08:55 AM por zookanthos zookanthos


I came to a similar realisation a couple of years ago. I was trying to juggle freshwater phycology, ascomycetes, lichens, bryophytes and trying my hand at flowering plants. Even one of those fields is too much so I've ended up sticking with bryophytes and ascomycetes associated with them (for now). I think it is best to go one group at a time rather than to take on loads of them. Good to hear you have a renewal of energy - being a naturalist is often exhausting!

Anotado por georgeg hace casi 5 años

I can relate to this a lot. I use a microscope from work when I can and I always think, "yes! This is my moment to really buckle down and ID this backlog of moss samples." Then before I know it, the day is gone and I've positively ID'ed maybe 5 or 6 and ambiguously ID'ed maybe that many more. Ugh. It's additionally frustrating because I don't have unlimited time in the day and unlimited time with the microscope and when I do commit the time if feels fruitless. Cherry on top, most of the ID resources I have to work with are incomplete at best.

Oh well. We keep plugging along. Passion definitely counts for a lot here!

Anotado por ewarden hace casi 5 años

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