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Continuing Education

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Continuing Education

Common Mosses of Central Ontario: An Introduction

Common Mosses of Central Ontario: An Introduction

Saturdays, October 21 to November 25, 2017, 1:00 - 3:00 pm.

Location: Traill College, Wallis Hall 226.

Cost: $20 per class (+ HST).

Register online at https://www.regonline.com/commonmossesofcentralontario or in person with cash or cheque at Scott House Room 102.4, 300 London Street, Traill College

Bryophytes (mosses) are a major component of most ecosystems and are commonly found on every continent on this planet, but oftentimes, these tiny plants are overlooked in favour of larger flora. This course brings these small plants into the spotlight and allows for the discovery of a whole new appreciation for the world of mosses.

This introductory course will focus on providing the student with a basic knowledge of bryophyte biology, with an emphasis on identification. The course will provide the students with the skills to identify the common mosses of central Ontario under the microscope and in the field. As the course includes a large field component, the students will have the opportunity to practice and acquire practical moss identification skills, learn moss collection methods as well as sample preservation.

The students can expect to complete this course with practical skills and knowledge on the basics of bryology and a collection of common mosses of central Ontario to call their own.

This course is open to anyone with an interest in mosses.

Saturday 21 October - Introduction to Bryophytes

This class will introduce the study of bryophytes and discuss the various types. We will discuss the lifecycles and reproduction of mosses and learn about the various growth forms and how to differentiate between them. We will also begin an introduction to the common mosses of central Ontario.

Saturday 28 October - Identification Skills

This class will focus on developing the skills to recognize the common mosses in the field. We will be using samples provided by the instructor to hone these skills and become familiar with certain traits which aid with identification. Additionally, microscopes skills will be taught to aid in further identification.

Saturday 4 November - Identification Skills- In the field

This class will consist of an introductory learning walk through the Trent Nature Trails to develop field identification skills. The basics of moss sampling will be included, as some samples will be returned to the lab to further identify by use of microscopes. Wear appropriate footwear and dress for the weather.

Saturday 11 November - Moss Walk (Trent Nature Area)


This class is entirely in the field. Students will aim to identify and sample the common mosses of central Ontario, building on their skills learned in previous classes. The students will begin sampling for their bryophyte collections. Wear appropriate footwear and dress for the weather.

Saturday 18 November - Moss Walk (Warsaw Caves)


This class will explore the abundant moss communities found at Warsaw Caves. This class will allow the students to experience mosses within a different habitat. The students will build on their field identification skills and continue to collect samples for their collections. Wear appropriate footwear and dress for the weather.

Saturday 25 November - Sample Preparation and Preservation

For the culmination of this course, students will use this class to finalize identifying and preparing samples for their collections. The collections will provide a valuable tool for the students to access later for aid with future moss identification. Supplies for the creation of collections will be provided.

About the Instructors: 

Phaedra Cowden is an enthusiastic bryologist in training who loves anything and everything moss related. She has her BSc. in Restoration Ecology (a joint degree program between Sir Sandford Fleming College and Trent University), where she discovered her love of both field work and mosses. Her undergraduate thesis studied the efficacy of mosses in the remediation of mine tailings. Since starting graduate work in 2015, she’s been lucky enough to be involved in a country wide moss sampling program in Ireland, where she spent her days travelling the countryside in search of moss. The focus of her thesis research is biomonitoring of atmospheric pollutants using mosses, which has sent her across the country and north of 60, all in the name of moss.

Kayla Wilkins discovered the beauty and wonder of the moss world by chance. She set out to Ireland to collect early spring leaf foliage for her master’s thesis, only to discover that spring had arrived late and there were no tree leaves to sample; however, there was an abundance of moss! With a little research, she learned that mosses absorb their nutrients directly from the air, absorbing pollutants along with those nutrients, and so have been widely used as atmospheric biomonitors. Thus, her thesis project was saved, albeit with a slight change in direction, and so began her fascination with the easily overlooked and mysterious world of bryophytes. She holds an MSc. in Environmental Science (2015) and currently works as a research assistant at Trent University, primarily studying the impacts of elevated atmospheric nitrogen deposition on natural habitats.

Online registration is provided through RegOnline, a third-party registration service. An additional charge will be applied by RegOnline in addition to the course fee.

Avoid additional charges by registering in person with cash or a cheque.