Image © Jeff Duckett

This presentation explores the biology of the second most speciose group of land plants; mosses, liverworts and hornworts. Understanding their biology is the key to explaining how plants colonised land 480 million years ago. Despite their small size, a feature linked to poikilohydry, the ability to withstand desiccation, they are vital to many terrestrial ecosystems, with the bog moss Sphagnum containing 6% of the world’s carbon. Bryophytes are important indicators of air quality with London as a particularly good barometer. After mass extinctions due to coal-burning, the conurbation’s bryophytes are increasing consequent on emissions from car exhausts.

Prof Jeff Duckett FLS was awarded the 2008 Linnean Medal in Botany for his eclectic research on the biology and evolution of land plants. His ongoing research projects at the Natural History Museum, including unravelling the key role of fungal symbioses in plant terrestrialization, the evolution of stomata and the effects of pollutants from traffic on London’s mosses and liverworts.

Jeff will also be hosting a field trip to Hampstead Heath after the event. Registration for this is essential. Registering for the field trip automatically books a place for the talk.

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