Bryophytes Survey - Vermont


We have not noted any distinct decline in bryophytes, in part because we have almost no information on trends over time.


I am in the process of putting together a list of bryophytes of Vermont, USA with their conservation ranks.  The list has been reviewed and I am now incorporating comments.  I will send the list in its current state in an attachment.


Nothing that I know of for Vermont.


In Vermont, we have "true" hotspots and places that appear to be hotspots due to the artifact of different degrees of collecting in different parts of the state.  I track bryo information by town (Vermont has 251 towns); towns vary from having as few as no bryophytes ever collected and curated to as many as about 250 species (our total number of species in the state is about 600).  Often, the high numbers are because of the activities of particular people there.  C.C. Frost, for example, did almost all of his collecting in the town of Brattleboro, an unexceptional town from the natural habitat perspective, but it would appear (wrongly) to be a bryophyte hotspot because of Frost's work.  One of my personal goals is to collect in undercollected areas in order to help determine the true hotspots. Two very definite hotspots for both bryophytes and vascular plants in Vermont are the Mt. Mansfield-Smuggler's Notch Area (towns of Cambridge, Stowe, and Underhill) and the Willoughby Lake area (Town of Westmore).  Both areas are protected.


There is very little funding for bryological research in Vermont.  I have received a small grant from the state's

Nongame and Natural Heritage PRogram to update the list of Vermont bryophytes and to develop an atlas of their distribution and conservation ranks; I have also recieved other small grants for inventory work.  These efforts are not aimed specifically at endangered bryos but at providing baseline info so that we can determine which bryos are endangered.


I do not know of any decline in the bryoflora.  Probably those species in greatest threat are those that are very ecosystem-specific, and grow in threatened ecosystems.  For instance, are the bryos that are limited to high elevation threatened by acid rain?  We don't know.


I can't comment on the country, but for the state of Vermont, there are two species protected by law: Sphanum subfulvum and Plagiobryum zieri.


Collecting of any plants is discouraged in nature reserves, but except for the above-meintioned two species, bryos are not explicitly protected.


The Vermont Nongame and Natural Heritage Program collects vegetation data from natural communities each year, focussing on a different community type each year.  As part of that data collection, bryophytes are also included.  Thus we are slowly developing a better understanding of the relationship between bryo distribution and vegetation types in the state. The Nature Conservancy has funded a few inventories of bryos on their preserves, but money is very limited. Restoration efforts within the state have not included any work on bryophytes, to my knowledge.


The state of Vermont's Nongame and Natural Heritage Program tracks the state's endangered species, and will soon begin tracking bryophytes.  As mentioned before, The Nature Conservancy has supported some bryophyte inventory.  We have a dozen or so people who are active or semi-active in bryological work, but they are involved in protection only to the degree of inventory and identification work, to my knowledge.


Much more inventory needs to be done to clarify exactly which species are rare and to document the distribution of all species state-wide  Bryophyte richness and distribution needs to be linked better to vascular vegetation types, since most protection is aimed at setting aside a range of vegetation types in a landscape mosaic.  Public awareness definitely needs to be raised; starting with introducing children to bryophytes through means that stimulate their interest.  We have several nature centers in the state that could have exhibits on bryophytes. We also need to place more emphasis on collecting and curating bryo specimens.


Dorothy J. Allard

1331 Waterville Mountain Road, Bakersfield, VT 05441, USA