Raising the status of giraffes

I’ve spent the last week or so looking into ways that we can all contribute to giraffe conservation- it’s true that many of us don’t live near wild giraffe populations, but there are still a number of ways that we can support them, most of which don’t involve travel.

I have no idea how many pictures I took of this giraffe at the Nashville Zoo, but I could have watched it for hours.

One organization was mentioned time and again when it comes to giraffes- the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. You can donate to their efforts or adopt a giraffe. They also take the lead in celebrating World Giraffe Day which is coming up on June 21st (the longest day or night of the year, depending on where you are)- many zoos coordinate events with World Giraffe Day, so there may be something close to you.

You can also make donations or adoptions with

The Giraffe Conservation Alliance has a number of research projects that you can donate directly to, but they also work with Jeans for Giraffes, which allows you to donate old denim. (You can also get to the documentary “Last of the Long Necks” via their site.)

PAMS Foundation is another option for donations- they have a list of specific items that are needed, and they are also in the AmazonSmile network, so you can support their efforts when you purchase items for yourself.

If your interest in giraffe conservation extends to personal contact with wild populations (yes, please!), you also have a few options there:

So you can help giraffes from the comfort of your own couch or get out in the field, clean out your closet or head to the zoo. Hopefully one (or more) of these options is appealing for each of us- we can help giraffe populations even if they aren’t part of our local wildlife.

Posted April 23, 2017 by Mirka Zapletal in Mammals

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Giraffes at home on the range

In my last post I mentioned that giraffe populations have been falling since at least the start of the 20th century, in part due to habitat loss, poaching, and changing climatic conditions. Has the past decade given us clearer insight into the problems facing them and ways to counteract those losses? In some ways things haven’t really changed, but there are some additional concerns now, too.

What trends have continued? Giraffe populations are still falling, for example dropping about 30% in Kenya in the ten years before 2012 (Musyoki et al. 2012). And in places where giraffes remain, they are increasingly restricted in what habitat is available to them. One of the concerns here is that increased contact between people and giraffes can lead to both giraffes getting used to being around people and people becoming less tolerant of giraffes (Leroy et al. 2009)- as of 2009, the former had happened with the small population of giraffes still living in Niger, but farmers, although sometimes losing crops to giraffes, had yet to start retaliating. In northern Kenya there was also worry that, as more herders turned to camels, there would be competition between livestock and giraffes for food, but research suggests that the two groups focus on different plant species and different browsing heights (O’Conner et al. 2015). Changing climatic conditions are also expected to continue influencing giraffe populations– since giraffe population density is positively correlated with late dry-season rainfall, expected reductions in rainfall due to climate change will probably put more stress on giraffes (Ogutu et al. 2008).

Captive giraffe populations are also at risk from giraffe skin disease.

In addition to these continuing problems, there are several additional reasons we should be paying attention to giraffes right now. Giraffes may have a bigger family tree than we thought– recent genetic analysis suggests that, rather than a single giraffe species with up to 9 subspecies (depending on who you talk to), we may be dealing with four separate species, some of which have subspecies (Fennessy et al. 2016). While this is very exciting news, it also complicates conservation efforts since we now have 4 species which split the original total population, so we could have greater issues with low genetic diversity. And an emerging skin disease also has some researchers worried– giraffe skin disease has been documented in both wild and captive populations over the last 25 years and severe cases of the wrinkled, apparently itchy skin can leave giraffes open to secondary infection and even induce lameness, which makes the animals easier prey (Muneza et al. 2016).

In a number of ways giraffes have some odds stacked against them- are there things that we can do to help them out? I’ll look into our options for my next post.

Works cited:

Fennessy, J, Bidon, T, Reuss, F, Kumar, V, Elkan, P, Nilsson, MA, Vamberger, M, Fritz, U, and A Janke. 2016. Multi-locus analyses reveal four giraffe species instead of one. Current Biology 26: 1-7.

Leroy, R, de Visscher, M-N, Halidou, O, and A Boureima. 2009. The last African white giraffes live in farmers’ fields. Biodiversity and Conservation 18: 2663-2677.

Muneza, AB, Montgomery, RA, Fennessy, JT, Dickman, AJ, Roloff, GJ, and DW Macdonald. 2016. Regional variation of the manifestation, prevalence, and severity of giraffe skin disease: a review of an emerging disease in wild and captive giraffe populations. Biological Conservation 198: 145-156.

Musyuoki, C, Andanje, S, Said, M, Chege, M, Anyona, G, Lukaria, L, and B Kuloba. 2012. Challenges and opportunities for conserving some threatened species in Kenya. The George Wright Forum 29: 81-89.

O’Conner, DA, Butt, B, and JB Foufopoulos. 2015. Foraging ecologies of giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) and camels (Camelus dromedarius) in northern Kenya: effects of habitat structure and possibilities for competition? African Journal of Ecology 53: 183-193.

Ogutu, JO, Piepho, H-P, Dublin, HT, Bhola, N, and RS Reid. 2008. Rainfall influences on ungulate population abundance in the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem. Journal of Animal Ecology 77: 814-829.

Are giraffes a big conservation story?

Based on what I’ve been reading over the last two weeks, I am not the only person to ask this question, nor is it a recent development. At least as early as 1926, published literature was asking whether African big game populations were declining (Friedmann 1926), and in 1931 an article quoting Major RWG Hingston suggested that there was no room for wildlife in the developing world of African agriculture and that trade in animal parts was the biggest threat to wild game populations (The Science News-Letter 1931).

Although not considered one of the big 5 game species in Africa, giraffes are still a big draw for tourists

Looking at the situation over the last few decades, has much changed? Populations have declined since the early 20th century, in some cases quite steeply– in West Africa there is now just a single population of giraffes found only in Niger (Le Pendu & Ciofolo 1999) and numbering just 63 individuals in 1997. The population of Rothschild giraffes in Kenya had gotten so low in the 1970s (under 130) that the country started a captive breeding program (Sembe 2015).

What are the causes underlying the giraffe declines? There are a number of different factors, some of which have worked together to make things more difficult for giraffes. In the case of West Africa, land development, whether for agriculture or railroads or some other reason, has steadily constricted the areas available to giraffes, and then a drought in 1984 created even more trouble (Ciofolo 1995). Other landscape changes have negatively impacted giraffes, as well. Giraffes seem to do better in lower quality savanna areas, in part because a lot of what they eat is found on trees- when grasslands are managed for better quality grass resources, perhaps because cattle are grazing, the grass can be grazed down to such a low level that giraffes, and other large herbivores, have to look elsewhere for food (Fritz 1997). Sometimes it’s not the plants so much as some other factor- a study in Zimbabwe found that, as elephant populations increased, other browsers decreased but the vegetation didn’t really change that much- they suggested that competition for water was the real issue (Valeix et al. 2007). Other studies have indicated that humans are directly limiting giraffe populations- as large animals with lots of meat, giraffes are often favored by poachers (Ciofolo 1995, Caro 1999).

Why should we pay attention to giraffe populations? Giraffes are an important part of their ecosystems in many ways. As large herbivores with a striking appearance, giraffes attract tourists and tourist dollars to the area, especially with regard to visitors from outside of Africa (Lindsey et al. 2007). In locations without big resources for conservation, the monetary value of a tourist seeing a giraffe can help make conservation of the entire system more affordable. Giraffes also have a direct impact on what the habitat looks like- their browsing stimulates the growth of new shoots (Ciofolo 1995) which influences vegetative structure. And the seeds they ingest may actually benefit from being eaten– giraffes tend to favor acacia seeds for food and these seeds germinate better when they pass through a giraffe’s digestive tract (Miller 1996). In addition, those seeds are more likely to be defecated in sunny areas, which the seeds prefer (Miller 1996), and parasitic bruchid beetle larvae within the seeds are killed during digestion which also gives the seeds a better chance of germinating (Miller 1994).

So we know that giraffes are valuable members of their ecosystems, and we also know that their populations have seen declines- do we have any sense of how to reverse those trends and whether there are more recent factors at play? That’s what I’ll take a look at for my next post.

Works cited:

Caro, TM. 1999. Densities of mammals in partially protected areas: the Katavi ecosystem of western Tanzania. Journal of Applied Ecology 36: 205-217.

Ciofolo, I. 1995. West Africa’s last giraffes: the conflict between development and conservation. Journal of Tropical Ecology 11: 577-588.

Friedmann, H. 1926. Notes on the big game of Africa and its preservation. Journal of Mammalogy 7:305-310.

Fritz, H. 1997. Low ungulate biomass in West African savannas: primary production or missing megaherbivores or large predator species? Ecography 20: 417-421.

Le Pendu, Y and I Ciofolo. 1999. Seasonal movements of giraffes in Niger. Journal of Tropical Ecology 15: 341-353.

Lindsey, PA, Alexander, R, Mills, MGL, Romanach, S and R Woodroffe. 2007. Wildlife viewing preferences of visitors to protected areas in South Africa: implications for the role of ecotourism in conservation. Journal of Ecotourism 6: 19-33.

Miller, MF. 1994. Large African herbivores, bruchid beetles and their interactions with acacia seeds. Oecologia 97: 265-270.

-1996. Dispersal of acacia seeds by ungulates and ostriches in an African savanna. Journal of Tropical Ecology 12: 345-356.

Sembe, JK. 2015. Effects of the Rothschild giraffe on the biophysical and socio-economic environment: a case of Giraffe Center Sanctuary in Nairobi County. Masters Thesis, University of Nairobi: 1-80.

The Science News-Letter. 1931. Protection is urged for African mammals. 20: 237.

Valeix, M, Fritz, H, Dubois, S, Kanengoni, K, Alleaume, S and S Said. 2007. Vegetation structure and ungulate abundance over a period of increasing elephant abundance in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. Journal of Tropical Ecology 23: 87-93.

Getting the long view of giraffes

I have no idea how many pictures I took of this giraffe at the Nashville Zoo, but I could have watched it for hours.

Perhaps I’ve been overly influenced by recent media events, but I’ve decided to look into giraffe conservation in my next series of posts. Whether or not a baby giraffe is being born at a zoo, there are a number of reasons that focusing on giraffes makes sense right now. There have been concerns about big declines in wild giraffe numbers, and I’m not exactly sure what factors are contributing to those declines. I also saw information from a recent study which suggested that, rather than dealing with a single giraffe species, it may be more accurate to look at 4 different species across Africa. If that is the case, conservation may become much more complicated.

Other than that, I know that giraffes have long tongues, eat acacia leaves, and have the same number of cervical vertebrae as we do. I also know that they are fascinating to watch and are charismatic animals regularly used in conservation campaigns. But why do they need conservation in the first place? And what is being done to help them? These are questions that I don’t really know the answer to, but hope to better understand over the next few posts.

Posted March 12, 2017 by Mirka Zapletal in Mammals

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Coming clean with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

In my last post I mentioned that I would look for ways to reduce our exposure to and production of PAHs, and I’ve spent some time searching for specific campaigns, but I haven’t found much that seems like an organized approach. Instead, I found a number of smaller recommendations for individual action.

To reduce exposure from food:

  • CNN.com has suggestions on safer grilling techniques, including the use of gas and propane instead of charcoal or using chimney starters instead of lighter fuel. There are also certain marinades that can prevent charring of meat.
  • prevention.com has another marinade suggestion for the beer-drinkers among us.

Cedar chips help deter moths and don’t release dangerous PAHs. Photo by Michael Fienen- license

Cutting general levels in your home:

Reducing overall pollution levels in air, water, and soil:

Some of these suggestions probably seem common sense, but they are worth repeating. And it does really seem like each of us has an individual responsibility to cut back on the emissions we, personally, generate. At the same time, large-scale policies for PAH reduction, for example through vehicle regulation, will probably take concerted and united effort, so we need to look for ways to make that happen, too.

Posted February 25, 2017 by Mirka Zapletal in Pollution

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Waiting for the PAH to change

In my last post I mentioned that some researchers have been looking into how we can get rid of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that contaminate water or soil or air. Based on a review by Gan et al. (2009), we have four main avenues for this: solvent extraction; bioremediation; chemical, photo-, and electro- degradation; and thermal treatment. The first option is quicker than the others, but only removes the PAHs, rather than degrading them, so we would still need a second step to fully get rid of them. Thermal treatment is effective since it completes the combustion process, but is more expensive. Chemical, photo-, and electro-degradation do remove PAHs, but there are concerns that the new substances created may be just as or more toxic than what we started with.

Earthworms can both degrade and sequester PAHs- this can help with bioremediation of soils. Photo courtesy of pfly- license link

What about bioremediation? As I mentioned in a previous post, there are some species that degrade PAHs and can be helpful in cleaning up contamination. One of the challenges here is that this is a long-term process-we have to wait for results. It is also easier to accomplish for contaminated liquids than for soils (Haritash & Kaushik 2009) because PAHs tend to cling to soil particles. Yap et al. (2010) found that adding vegetable oil to contaminated soil helped dissolve PAHs so that microbes could access them for degradation, but large quantities of oil were needed for highly contaminated soils, and that could create new issues. I did find some studies which suggested there may be more options than we originally thought for bioremediation. A 2007 study by Khan et al. found that fiber made from cattails were effective at absorbing PAHs from contaminated water- in locations where cattails have become invasive, this could be a way to utilize ‘weeds.’ And we should remember our soil engineers, earthworms, when thinking about soil bioremediation. In addition to creating aerated soil where microbes can work more quickly, it turns out that earthworms are largely resistant to pollutants and even help degrade PAHs with enzymes (Sinha et al. 2008).

Why should we work to remove PAHs from contaminated air, soil, and water? PAH-contamination of soils has been shown to alter the bacterial community, which can impact ecosystem function (Zhou et al. 2009). We also track these particles inside on our shoes, and, once inside, they are protected from degradation and can persist for a long time, especially in carpets (Lewis et al. 1999)- crawling children are then exposed to carcinogens and mutagens. As I mentioned in a previous post, PAHs are also associated with liver lesions, lung cancers, and other diseases. There is also evidence that prenatal exposure to PAHs increases the incidence of anxiety, depression, and attention problems in children (Perera et al. 2012).

So we have some options for removing PAHs once they are present, but it probably makes more sense to prevent their occurrence in the first place– what can each of us do on either front? My next post will take a look at that.

Works cited:

Gan, S, Lau, EV and HK Ng. 2009. Remediation of soils contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Journal of Hazardous Materials 172: 532-549.

Haritash, AK and CP Kaushik. 2009. Biodegradation aspects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs): a review. Journal of Hazardous Materials 169: 1-15.

Khan, E, Khaodhir, S and P Rotwiron. 2007. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon removal from water by natural fiber sorption. Water Environment Research 79: 901-911.

Lewis, RG, Fortune, CR, Willis, RD, Camann, DE and JT Antley. 1999. Distribution of pesticides and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in house dust as a function of particle size. Environmental Health Perspectives 107: 721-726.

Perera, FP, Tang, D, Wang, S, Vishnevetsky, J, Zhang, B, Diaz, D, Camann, D and V Rauh. 2012. Prenatal polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) exposure and child behavior at age 6-7. Environmental Health Perspectives 120: 921-926.

Sinha, RK, Bharambe, G and D Ryan. 2008. Converting wasteland into wonderland by earthworms- a low-cost nature’s technology for soil remediation: a case study of vermiremediation of PAHs contaminated soil. Environmentalist 28: 466-475.

Yap, CL, Gan, S and HK Ng. 2010. Application of vegetable oils in the treatment of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons-contaminated soils. Journal of Hazardous Materials 177: 28-41.

Zhou, HW, Wong, AHY, Yu, RMK, Park, YD, Wong, YS and NFY Tam. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-induced structural shift of bacterial communities in mangrove sediment. Microbial Ecology 58: 153-160.

Posted February 16, 2017 by Mirka Zapletal in Mammals

A dynamic relationship with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

In my reading on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), many of the studies from a few decades ago focused on figuring out where they were coming from and if they posed a risk. Then, in the mid to late 1990s, I saw a shift toward looking for ways to limit exposure. What’s the upshot of that earlier research? PAHs are persistent, scary, and connected to combustion. As for risk limitation, we’ve got more options with some compounds than with others, so limiting emissions to start with is probably key.

Some PAHs are created by industrial combustion. Photo courtesy of USFWS

What are PAHs in the first place? As I mentioned in my last post, there are a variety of different kinds, but they all have multiple rings of carbon and hydrogen atoms. The ones that we are most concerned with here, like fluorene, naphthalene, and pyrene, can be produced by the burning of fossil fuels, locations with very high temperatures, forest fires, tobacco smoke, and other situations where organic materials are combusted but particles are left behind (Blumer & Youngblood 1975). [Given that description, you might think that pollution from vehicles is important, and it is, but a 2003 study in China found that, although traffic emissions were roughly twice as plentiful as emissions from restaurant and home cooking, the cooking particles were 11 times as potent (Li et al. 2003)] These particles come into contact with us when we inhale them or they settle into the water we drink and the soil that nourishes the foods we eat- that’s where things pick up some speed. PAHs are not active mutagens and carcinogens on their own, but mammalian metabolisms (like ours) convert these substances into reactive derivatives, for example with liver enzymes, and then the now-carcinogenic hydrocarbons get to work targeting DNA, RNA, and proteins (Pashin & Bakhitova 1979). PAH exposure has been linked to liver lesions in fish (Landahl et al. 1990), lung cancer in humans (Sherson et al. 1990), and other diseases (Pashin & Bakhitova 1979).

Why are they persistent? According to Genney et al. (2004), PAHs are good at sticking to soil particles and bad at dissolving in water, so they aren’t in easy access for soil fungi to degrade. Some PAHs are very volatile, so they tend to vaporize quickly which means that they don’t stick around long enough in one place for degradation (Joyce et al. 1998). What can we do for clean up? Joyce et al. (1998) did find that some PAHs, such as pyrene and phenanthrene, were degraded by microbes found in compost, and Hammel (1995) noted that the same fungi which causes white-rot in wood also degraded phenanthrene and other PAHs. A 2001 study also found that a new design for iron and PAH biofiltration from groundwater successfully degraded PAHs with 2 and 3 rings of atoms, but not those with 4 rings (Richard & Dwyer 2001). As I said above, it’s probably good to limit emissions in the first place.

So we have a sense of where these hydrocarbons come from, why they present a risk for us, and how we can approach the issue of remediation. What new information have we gained in the last 10 years or so? That’s what I’ll look at in my next post.

Works Cited:

Blumer, M and WW Youngblood. 1975. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in soils and recent sediments. Science 188: 53-55.

Genney, DR, Alexander, IJ, Killham, K and AA Meharg. 2004. Degradation of the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) fluorene is retarded in a scots pine ectomycorrhizosphere. The New Phytologist 163: 641-649.

Hammel, KE. 1995. Mechanisms for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon degradation by ligninolotic fungi. Environmental Health Perspectives 103: 41-13.

Joyce, JF, Sato, C, Cardenas, R and RY Surampalli. 1998. Composting of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in simulated municipal solid waste. Water Environment Research 70: 356-361.

Landahl, JT, McCain, BB, Myers, MS, Rhodes, LD and DW Brown. 1990. Consistent associations between hepatic lesions in English sole (Parophrys vetulus) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in bottom sediment. Environmental Health Perspectives 89: 195-203.

Li, C-T, Lin, Y-C, Lee, W-T and P-J Tsai. 2003. Emission of polycyclic hydrocarbons and their carcinogenic potencies from cooking sources in the urban atmosphere. Environmental Health Perspectives 111:483-487.

Pashin, YV and LM Bakhitova. 1979. Mutagenic and carcinogenic properties of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Environmental Health Perspectives 30: 185-189.

Richard, DE and DF Dwyer. 2001. Aerated biofiltration for simultaneous removal of iron and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from groundwater. Water Environment Research 73: 673-683.

Sherson, D, Sabro, P, Sigsgaard, T, Johansen, F and H Autrup. 1990. Biological monitoring of foundry workers exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. British Journal of Industrial Medicine 47: 448-453.

There’s something in the air

Wildfires are one source of PAHs, but others include industrial processes. Photo by R. Hagerty and courtesy of USFWS.

Some of the reading I’ve been doing lately involves toxins in the environment, and I came across a term that hadn’t really made it onto my radar yet- “polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons”. I’m familiar with the idea of hydrocarbons, especially with regard to various fuels we use, but PAHs (as they are abbreviated) I am less sure of. This group includes some things that I use on a regular basis and probably aren’t doing me much harm, like vanilla, but there are also more toxic substances which get into the air in a number of ways and pose a health risk, like some of the molecules in wood smoke. My guess is that some of these substances are emitted by processes beyond our control, but we probably have the ability to influence the abundance of others. And it’s probably a good idea for us to have a better sense of the dangers we inhale, versus drinking or eating, and how exposure can be limited. So it’s conservation at a larger scale with this topic, looking at things lurking in the air we breathe and what we can do to help everyone take a safe, deep breath.

Posted January 14, 2017 by Mirka Zapletal in Consumer Products, Pollution

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Growing a moss conservation conversation

Photo by R. Hagerty and courtesy of USFWS

Photo of moss on a tree trunk by R. Hagerty and courtesy of USFWS

I’ve been looking into our options for helping with moss conservation and, honestly, the list is about as long as moss is tall, which suggests that moss conservation really isn’t on many people’s radars at this point.

Here’s what I did find-


Slim pickings, right? So, after the reading I’ve done on moss research and conservation, I’d like to add a few more recommendations.

  • When camping, consider leaving woody debris lying in the forest where it lies rather than collecting it for firewood
  • Mosses are particularly sensitive to edge effects, so stay on hiking trails and use the same paths when walking through the woods in your area- that way you keep the disturbance localized
  • When buying wood or managing a forest, push for long-term rotations in the cutting schedule so that a greater variety of moss species have a chance to recover before the next cutting
  • When you find moss growing in your yard, consider it another microhabitat that enriches the ecosystem, rather than a weed

And keep your eyes and ears open- based on the trend in the literature, more and more people are paying attention to mosses, so it’s likely that there will be more opportunities for organized conservation work in the future.

If you give a moss a forestry rotation

As I mentioned in my previous post, mosses are very sensitive to changes in microclimate. Forestry practices can, therefore, have a big impact on moss diversity and persistence in any one location. Over the last few years we’ve gotten a better sense of the scale at which those management decisions affect local mosses. Researchers in Sweden found that clear-cutting in boreal forest could extirpate mosses from an area for more than 50 years (Dynesius and Hylander 2007). Since forests may be managed on rotation of ~100 years, this means that the forest could be halfway to the next clear-cut by the time the bryophyte community is similar to what it was before the cut, which could be a problem for maintaining relationships within the ecosystem. A later study in Sweden found that red-list mosses and mosses that were indicators of areas with species richness were correlated with the bark area of individual trees, which may explain why tree age is so important to moss diversity in these forests (Fritz et al. 2009). These studies together suggest that perhaps some areas should be left as refuges for those moss species that are particularly sensitive to the disruption of clear-cutting.

Sphagnum moss is an important part of fen flora. Photo by G. Peeples and courtesy of USFWS

Sphagnum moss is an important part of fen flora. Photo by G. Peeples and courtesy of USFWS

We also know now that there are certain forests and other habitats which are hot spots for moss diversity, so we can be more considered in our decisions that impact them. A survey of endemic mosses found that islands with mountains and the Andes were particularly important in terms of native species (Hallingback and Tan 2014), and research within the Madeiras found that mosses in high mountain habitats were at increased risk (Sim-Sim et al. 2014). So we know that we should be paying attention to mosses in a variety of locations, not just boreal forests.

It’s good to know that we can do things to support moss populations in their current spots, but what about those mosses that have already seen their ranges shrink dramatically- can we do anything about that? As it turns out, yes. The results of two separate studies suggest that we can help mosses reclaim some of the land they have lost. Rowntree et al. (2011) found that we can raise moss plants in locations such as greenhouses and labs with success, although we need to pay attention to temperature and it’s easier to work with the sporophyte generation. Combine that with the results of Malson & Rydin (2007) who found that they could transplant moss fragments into fens that had been previously drained but were now re-flooded, and we do have options for raising moss plants in captivity and then planting them in appropriate wild habitats when they become available.

But not everyone has a drained fen to restore or a forest to manage- what can we, as people concerned about moss conservation, do if we don’t have either? In my final post, I’ll look into options for getting involved in moss conservation at multiple levels.

Works Cited:

Dynesius, M., and K. Hylander. 2007. Resilience of bryophyte communities to clear-cutting of boreal stream-side forests. Biological Conservation 135:423–434. The Conservation Ecology of Cryptogams.

Fritz, Ö., M. Niklasson, and M. Churski. 2009. Tree Age Is a Key Factor for the Conservation of Epiphytic Lichens and Bryophytes in Beech Forests. Applied Vegetation Science 12:93–106.

Hallingback, T., and B.C. Tan. 2014. Past and present activities and future strategy of bryophyte conservation. Phytotaxa 9:266–274.

Mälson, K., and H. Rydin. 2007. The regeneration capabilities of bryophytes for rich fen restoration. Biological Conservation 135:435–442. The Conservation Ecology of Cryptogams.

Rowntree, J.K., S. Pressel, M.M. Ramsay, A. Sabovljevic, and M. Sabovljevic. 2011. “In vitro” conservation of European bryophytes. In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology. Plant 47:55–64.

Sim-Sim, M., S. Ruas, S. Fontinha, L. Hedenäs, C. Sérgio, and C. Lobo. 2014. Bryophyte conservation on a North Atlantic hotspot: threatened bryophytes in Madeira and Selvagens Archipelagos (Portugal). Systematics and Biodiversity 12:315–330.