I'm an ecologist by training and a bryologist at heart. Because bryophytes are largely understudied and underappreciated, I am ecstatic to fill in the gaps in scientific knowledge. I find myself often questioning and testing established ecological theories in the context of bryology. While bryophytes do belong to the plant kingdom, they are exceptionally unique in that they lack specialized vascular tissues and reproduce with spores. Bryophytes are capable of withstanding extensive periods of drying out (desiccation) and viable plant material has even been found under Arctic ice! 

What factors affect how bryophyte communities assemble?

Because bryophytes are nonvascular, nonflowering plants, the dispersal of spores and diaspores is critically dependent on the environment. Wind, water, and even other organisms are primary modes of dispersal of propagules. Additionally, the germination of these propagules is heavily dependent on environmental parameters such as substrate, pH, moisture, and temperature, amongst others. This question investigates how environmental variables at cave entrances can predict the community composition of bryophytes. I am utilizing transect sampling to collect these data. 

Which bryophytes exist at cave entrances?

Being non-vascular plants, bryophytes have a special talent for establishing on otherwise uninhabitable terrains and surfaces. Caves provide a unique opportunity for investigating the effects of disturbance in that the climate of a cave is relatively constant throughout the year (1, 2). In addition, any research regarding the bryophyte communities at cave entrances is almost nonexistent. This research will produce novel information regarding which bryophytes exist at karst cave entrances in Kentucky as well as producing a checklist of bryophytes at Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky. 

How does human disturbance affect bryophyte community assembly?

Because caves are such constant environments, they may provide refugia for species unable to exist outside of the climate facilitated by these entrances. Additionally, karst caves are particularly sensitive to deviations from geochemical homeostasis. Deviations can drastically accelerate rates of chemical weathering. My research investigates how human disturbances play a role in the community assembly of bryophytes at these karst caves. My question utilizes a metric to quantify anthropogenic disturbance along a gradient. I hope to get a methods paper out of this disturbance scoring!

How do foliar fungal endophytes colonize mosses?

Foliar fungal endophytes (FFE) have been recorded in every order of terrestrial plants. While much is known regarding the ecology of plant-fungi symbioses in tracheophytes, almost nothing is known about these relationships in bryophytes. It has long been assumed the Porellales, an order of leafy liverworts, do not host fungal endophytes. However, the source of this rumor is unknown and worth verification. I am working on a census of the fungal endophytes of an epiphtytic liverwort, Frullania eboracensis, and comparing the endophyte communities of the host tree (Acer saccharum) and F. eboracensis