Welcome to the GLOBAL Bryophyte & Lichen TCN Project Website!

“Building a Global Consortium of Bryophytes and Lichens: Keystones of Cryptobiotic Communities,” also known as the GLOBAL Bryophyte & Lichen Thematic Collections Network (TCN), is a collaboration of 25 universities, museums, and gardens located across the United States and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). This project will integrate information about bryophytes and lichens, with each other and with their commensal organisms, on a worldwide scale. The GLOBAL herbaria will image and digitize almost 1.2 million bryophyte and lichen herbarium specimens while providing students with professional training in digitization and collections management. Imaging the physical specimens of these organisms and integrating data from comparative genomics, nucleotide sequence data, and other resources is unprecedented on this scale. Digitized data will be shared freely online, making these specimens available to researchers, teachers, students, and communities across the world.

Bryophytes and lichens are functionally related as the main hosts for cryptobiotic communities forming minute “forests” that provide a matrix of habitats for many microscopic organisms, including tardigrades, mites, rotifers, micro-mollusks, microalgae, microfungi, and prokaryotes. These communities have global relevance and perform essential functions on our planet, for example, the biological soil crusts that harbor these communities form a “living skin” covering approximately 12% of Earth’s terrestrial surface.

Photos By: Laura Briscoe2,6,11, Jessica Budke4,8,13,15, Frank Bungartz1,3,7,10,16, Patrick Sweeney5,12,17, Todd Wildhelm9,14

GLOBAL Progress *As of March 31, 2021

9,514 Specimens Imaged

31,135 Specimens Transcribed

49,236 Specimens Georeferenced

Photos By: Frank Bungartz1,3, Margaret Oliver2

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  • Sharing GLOBAL at BL2021

    Today marks the start of the BL2021 Online Conference: Bryophytes, lichens, and northern ecosystems in a changing world, bringing together four major bryological, lichenological and botanical societies: the International Association of Bryologists (IAB), the American Bryological and Lichenological Society (ABLS), the Canadian Botanical Association (CBA-ABC) and the Société québécoise de bryologie (SQB). The conference runs from July 6-9 and seeks to address diverse topics including “climate change, genomics of model organisms, conservation, biogeography, ecology, genetics, phylogenetics and physiology together with newer areas like epigenomics, environmental DNA studies and cryptogamic polar biology.” An overview of the GLOBAL TCN project will be presented by Matt von Konrat on Wednesday, July 7 at 1:30 pm Eastern in Room 3. The abstract is included in the special issue of The Bryological Times: BT_152_special_issue.pdf (conferium.com).

  • Going GLOBAL

    In 2011, the North American Lichens and Bryophytes: Sensitive Indicators of Environmental Quality and Change (LBCC) TCN began work to digitize bryophyte and lichen specimens collected in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The project grew to include over 100 institutions and posted 5 million specimens on public data portals for Bryophytes (CNABH) and Lichens (CNALH). North America is only one small part of the picture, and bryophytes and lichens play important and interconnected roles in diverse ecosystems on every continent of the globe. Ten years later, the GLOBAL Bryophyte & Lichen TCN is building upon the LBCC foundation to add specimens from areas outside of North America, and to create a new interface connecting data from bryophytes, lichens, and their associated organisms in one place. It is the hope of this collaboration that the project will improve our understanding of these communities, develop and share new digitization resources and tools, and help to educate and inspire the next generation.