Mosses, liverworts, and hornworts are found throughout the world in a variety of habitats. They flourish particularly well in moist, humid forests, filling many ecological roles. They provide seedbeds for the larger plants of the community and homes to countless arthropods, they capture and recycle nutrients that are washed with rainwater from the canopy, and they bind the soil to keep it from eroding. This photo-based field guide to the more common or distinctive bryophytes of northeastern North America gives beginners the tools they need to identify most specimens without using a compound microscope. Ralph Pope's inviting text and helpful photographs cover not only the 'true' mosses but also the Sphagnaceae (the peat mosses), liverworts, and hornworts.
The heart of any field guide is the ability to narrow down a large number of possibilities to a single species, and this book does that with a variety of keying strategies. Traditional dichotomous keys are included, and there are also 'quick' keys based on habitat and special morphological characteristics. The organization of the species pages is by plant family, an arrangement likely to resonate with readers with some plant background or botanical interest. Mosses, Liverworts, and Hornworts also features information on collecting, preserving, and identifying specimens to help hikers, naturalists, botanists, and gardeners find their way into this beautiful miniature world. Sections on bryophyte biology and ecology provide taxonomic and ecological context.