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Bryology — Mosses
Dr. Brent Mishler has two currently funded projects. One involves the Green Plant Phylogeny Research Coordination Group (GPPRCG). This group is supported by a Research Coordination Grant from USDA (co-PIs Mark A. Buchheim, Russell L. Chapman, Brent D. Mishler). The general goal has been formation of a group whose purpose is to facilitate interaction between distinct research groups that each have their own independent foci yet entail some aspect of green plant phylogeny or systematics. Major goals include standardizing taxon sampling and data sampling, as well as improving methods for analysis of large, comparative data bases. Mishler hosted the first GPPRCG meeting in the Valley Life Sciences Building at UC Berkeley, 24--28 Jun 1995 and has been involved in setting up and running additional meetings. He also supervises the GPPRCG web site and planning for the group's activities at the upcoming International Botanical Congress in St. Louis in 1999 (as well as the book that is planned to result from this). Having a well-resolved phylogeny for this large and important lineage will lead to opportunities for related evolutionary studies. The massive computational effort required to complete the green plant phylogeny project is also leading to theoretical studies of new areas of the methodology of phylogenetic reconstruction, including how to deal with combinations of diverse data types, and how to represent smaller lineages in more inclusive cladistic analyses.
Mishler's second major project involves an NSF grant from the PEET program (Partnerships for Enhancing Expertise in Taxonomy). This is a combined research/training grant program focused on the systematics of the tropical moss family Calymperaceae. The budget supports travel and research expenses as well as stipends for trainees at the postdoctoral, graduate, and undergraduate levels, all working on monographic studies in this evolutionarily interesting family of mosses. We began in September 1997, and the group already includes a post doc (John Wheeler), one graduate student (Dennis Wall), and three undergraduates (Elaine Cheung, Tony Morosco, and Andy Tang), with another graduate student (Kirsten Johannes) beginning in Fall 1998. In summer 1998, various members of this group carried out field trips to tropical regions (Puerto Rico, the South Pacific, and Australia).
Mishler also continued his collaboration with Research Associate L. Stark and N. McLetchie to study reproductive biology in a moss found in dry desert habitats, Syntrichia caninervis. This species exhibits several features of evolutionary interest, including extreme desiccation tolerance, very low frequency of sexual reproduction, and highly skewed sex ratios (females are nearly 20 times more common than males).
Dr. Daniel Norris (Professor Emeritus from Humboldt State University) has an appointment as a Research Botanist (unpaid) in the University Herbarium. He has recently moved his home to Washington State (October 1996) yet he continues to curate and augment the UC bryophyte collection. In addition to active progress towards completing his planned Bryophyte Flora of California, he conducted expeditions to threatened areas for collection of the full spectrum of plant groups, both in the western United States and internationally.
Research Associate James R. Shevock (US Forest Service) continued his major ongoing project on the bryoflora of the southern Sierra Nevada. Nearly 2,500 collections have been obtained since the start of this project in the fall of 1995. Several new moss records for California have been verified and these data are to be published shortly in EVANSIA. His Asian collections from Taiwan, Republic of China, have been incorporated into the University Herbarium. Nearly 1000 Californian bryophytes and 200 lichen collections have been identified, labeled, packeted, and placed in the permanent collections at UC.
Research Associate Lloyd Stark (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) continued a bryofloristic study of the Mojave Desert (in collaboration with Brent Mishler and Alan Whittemore, with the initial focus on the eastern Mojave Desert of southern Nevada and portions of Utah and Arizona.