Bryophytes (Mosses) in the Christopher B. Smith Preserve
Bryophyte Characteristics: Mosses have alternation of generation. The gametophyte generation is the stage with which we are most familiar. This stage has simple ribbed leaves covering thin stems. It lacks roots, but instead has threadlike multi-celled rhizoids that anchor it to the substrate. The gametophyte absorbs water and nutrients through its leaves. This stage is a soft plant, typically one to 10 cm tall. The sporophyte generation is much smaller and consists of spore-bearing capsules (sporangia) on top of long, unbranched thin stalks attached to the gametophyte. Mosses reproduce with the spores.
There are approximately 12,000 species of mosses in the world.
Interactions in the Smith Preserve: Some mosses are the first to colonize open ground. They play a major role in maintaining an ecosystem's humidity level because of their ability to absorb and store water. In addition, they help hold loose soil in place so other plants can begin to grow. And like other plants, bryophytes convert energy of sunlight to energy other organisms can use. The conversion process is photosynthesis. Energy that mosses create is distributed to animals through the food web. Also during photosynthesis, bryophytes produce oxygen. In addition, bryophytes provide habitat for other organisms.
Phylum Family Species Name Common Name Bryophyta Bryaceae Bryum argenteum Bryophyta Unknown Unknown
Bryum argenteum is a member of Phylum Bryophyta, Class Musci, and Family Bryaceae. As with all mosses, it is perennial and has crude stems and leaves, and no roots. Instead it has rhizoids that help anchor it to a substrate. There may be more than 10,000 species of mosses in the world.
The leafy moss shown here was at the south-facing base of a Sabal palmetto (Sabal Palm). This is the gametophyte generation of its life. This generation produces the sperm and egg that combine to grow into a new generation, the sporophyte. As shown below, the sporophyte generation (a parasite on the gametophyte mother) consists of a capsule at the end of a seta (stalk). When the sporophyte dries out, the capsule releases spores that grow into a new gametophyte generation.
Bryum argenteum is a bright silver-gray mat of short, densely arranged leafy stalks that overlap to form a cushion. The upper surface of the leaves is transparent and each leaf tapers to a sharp point. The species name argenteum refers to the silvery color of this moss.
Unknown Species Name
Unknown Common Name
This unknown moss was photographed at the base of a Quercus geminata (Live Sand Oak ) in the northwest quadrant of the Smith Preserve.
© Photographs and text by Susan Leach Snyder (Conservancy of Southwest Florida Volunteer), unless otherwise credited above.
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