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.

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This entry was posted in biology, bryology, bryophytes, data collection, field biology, field science. Bookmark the permalink.

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