On storing and logging moss specimens

(Updated 2021-02-21)

The standard way of storing moss specimens — at least that’s taught — is to press them, like most botanical specimens, or to store them, dessicated, in folders like these:

That’s from Ralph Pope’s (2016) Guide,

Pope, Ralph. Mosses, Liverworts, and Hornworts: A Field Guide to Common Bryophytes of the Northeast. Comstock Publishing Associates, a division of Cornell University Press, 2016.

I can understand if people want to make a permanent collection that does not take up a lot of space, or even send them by post to colleagues.

I’ve found it better to take a specimen from each locale and store them in containers like these:

or these:

and of course logging them in a sturdy (not spiral bound!) notebook:

I prefer Leuchtturm1917 hardcover notebooks that are ruled and medium-sized:

In fact, I use these Leuchtturm1917s for all my notes. No, I don’t rely exclusively upon digitized notes. For one thing, it’s difficult to sketch there. And it’s difficult to do things like this:

although if I was being completely thorough, I would log the Google photos identifiers into the paper notebook.

I now have set up an EpiCollect 5 form on my Google Pixel 2 for logging individual photos so I have a record of all the observations.

I rely upon an outbound spreadsheet in .ods format for that, with a copy stored on my Parzen Dell Precision workstation and in my Google Drive.

I don’t intend to keep these specimens for decades. If I did, I might opt for the Pope-style folders.

My technique seems to do fine for months. I put a drop or two of water in each after a while. Occasioanlly on sunny days, I set them out on our dining room table, after first opening each briefly to let them breathe. I close them again so they don’t dry out.

Then they go back into their tea boxes, where I group them by banding with elastics.

Mosses tend to be tough, so this treatment doesn’t bother them. It hasn’t happened to any specimen yet, but I imagine if a fungus grew in the vials, that might do them in and spoil them. I don’t put a lot of water in.

About ecoquant

See https://667-per-cm.net/about. Retired data scientist and statistician. Now working projects in quantitative ecology and, specifically, phenology of Bryophyta and technical methods for their study.
This entry was posted in biology, bryology, bryophytes, data collection, field biology, field science. Bookmark the permalink.

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