Mosses, liverworts, and hornworts are found throughout the world in a variety of habitats. They flourish particularly well in moist, humid forests, filling many ecological roles. They provide seedbeds for the larger plants of the community and homes to countless arthropods, they capture and recycle nutrients that are washed with rainwater from the canopy, and they bind the soil to keep it from eroding. This photo-based field guide to the more common or distinctive bryophytes of northeastern North America gives beginners the tools they need to identify most specimens without using a compound microscope. Ralph Pope's inviting text and helpful photographs cover not only the "true" mosses but also the Sphagnaceae (the peat mosses), liverworts, and hornworts.
The heart of any field guide is the ability to narrow down a large number of possibilities to a single species, and Mosses, Liverworts, and Hornworts does that with a variety of keying strategies. Traditional dichotomous keys are included, and there are also "quick" keys based on habitat and special morphological characteristics. The organization of the species pages is by plant family, an arrangement likely to resonate with readers with some plant background or botanical interest. Mosses, Liverworts, and Hornworts also features information on collecting, preserving, and identifying specimens to help hikers, naturalists, botanists, and gardeners find their way into this beautiful miniature world. Sections on bryophyte biology and ecology provide taxonomic and ecological context.
"Mosses, Liverworts, and Hornworts is scientifically accurate and accessible to an audience of amateur naturalists as well as to botanical professionals seeking to know and learn more about mosses. The scope and breadth are right on target. The species descriptions are accurate and vivid and draw upon the experience of the author. The use of habitat types, color, scale, and texture in identifying species is very helpful."
– Robin W. Kimmerer, Distinguished Teaching Professor and Director, Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, author of Gathering Moss and Braiding Sweetgrass
"This authoritative and user-friendly book consists of well-illustrated treatments of each species. The color photos are of a high order. I find the comparison to similar species hugely helpful. Mossing adventures will be all the more satisfying with this book along for company."
– Alison C. Dibble, University of Maine
"This book is intended as a (much needed) field guide, a goal it reaches admirably. The keys and color images (for nearly every species) are very helpful, and where only microscopic examination can be definitive, it provides characteristics to look for. It also notes species that may be confused with each other and how to distinguish them. I strongly recommend it for the broad geographic area it is intended to cover."
– Janice Glime, Michigan Tech
"This book is the most complete and the best illustrated field guide to mosses and liverworts in the Northeast. Naturalists in Eastern Canada and the Great Lakes region will use it, too. The photographs are excellent and the text both very useful and interesting. It contains the common and many uncommon mosses and even the rare hornworts, as well as good ecological pointers to help in finding them all."
– Nancy Slack, The Sage Colleges, coeditor of Bryophyte Ecology and Climate Change