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Dates: August 14, 2017 - August 26, 2017
Location: Bocas Research Station, Bocas del Toro, Panama
Organizer: Dr. Rachel Collin
Registration Fee: $850 (includes room and board, STRI registration fee, etc.). Some need-based fellowships are available


Dr. Noris Salazar Allen

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama

Dr. Juan Carlos Villarreal

Université Laval, Canada

Dr. Gregorio Dauphin

Herbario Nacional, Museo Nacional de Costa Rica

Course description:

The course is aimed for graduate students, post-docs, senior undergraduates and professionals interested in learning and applying knowledge about the diversity, evolution, and research potential of bryophytes, one of the most important plant groups in the adaptation of plants to land environments. The students participating in the course will:

  • Learn to identify, describe and compare the most common bryophytes that grow on mangroves and forested islands, as well as those of continental forests.
  • Learn about the evolutionary mechanisms developed by the gametophyte and sporophyte generations in the various bryophyte groups and their adaptations to terrestrial environments.
  • Learn the bryophyte components of the various ecosystems in the Tropics, and potential taxonomic problems that arise when studying them.
  • Learn basic ecological survey techniques.

The course aims at providing the students with the necessary tools to continue studies on the taxonomy, morphology, and ecology of bryophytes. The course will last 10 days with 3 days dedicated to taxonomic training including the characteristics and identification of the various orders, families and genera of bryophytes. Two days will be dedicated to biogeography, chemical diversity, and reproductive mechanism; one day to basic ecological techniques. We will conduct field trips to survey the various sites in the islands and mangroves around the Bocas station, and a one-day field trip to Fortuna to compare the bryophyte flora of a cloud forest with that of the coastal areas. The remaining days will be dedicated to working on independent or group projects and their presentation. Daily activities will include: morning and afternoon lectures, field trips, lab work, and discussion sections or talks.

Application: Please e-mail your CV, 1 letter of recommendation, and a 1-2 page statement explaining your background and reasons for taking the course, to before January 15th, 2017. Limit 12 students. To be considered for a need-based fellowship, applicants should send a description of their need, their efforts to obtain funding from other available sources, and a travel budget. For more information see


Akiko Tomitani

Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñaza (CATIE), Costa Rica
I am a cyanobacteriologist whose main interest has been the evolution of photosynthetic organisms and its correlation with earth's environment. I have worked on different aspects of the subject including the origin of chloroplasts, cyanobacterial morphological diversification, and genetic regulation of Nostoc hormogonia formation, an initial step for filamentous cyanobacteria to infect plant hosts. My current research focuses on diversity of symbiotic associations between nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria and plants, principally bryophytes. I'm presently working as a visiting researcher at Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñaza (CATIE), Costa Rica, and investigating bryophytes and associated cyanobacteria in the country as well as those in Japan.

Anna Mezaka

Marburg University, Germany Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama
I am Marie Sklodowska Curie research fellow at the Marburg University and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. My past research focus was epiphytic bryophyte and lichen ecology in European temperate deciduous forests. Now I am studying epiphyllous bryophyte and lichen dynamics in relation to environmental variables in tropical lowland forest.

Arianti Carvajal

Universidad de Costa Rica, Costa Rica
I'm an undergradute student at Universidad de Costa Rica. My main study interest is Sphagnum ecology, ecophysiology, taxonomy and evolution. I'm also interested in ecology and conservation of peatlands and páramos, focusing on bryophytes. In the future, I would like to continue studying neotropical Sphagnum and other high altitude bryophytes.

Bryan Espinoza

Natural History Museum, Peru
I am a collaborator researcher at Natural History Museum in Lima, Perú. I am interested in liverworts, their taxonomy, systematics and distribution. My current research focuses on taxonomy of Frullania, this genus has not been studied in Peru recently, therefore, it will allow to know which species are, how they are, as well as their current distribution. Also I am interested in other groups inside hepatics such as Lejeunaceae family, an interesting family where majority of them develops over canopy of trees, topic poorly studied in Peru. Thus, this workshop will allow me to enhance my abilities to recognize families and genus in field as well as other aspects such as their biology or evolution of these groups.

Caleb M Caswell-levy

UC/Jepson Herbaria and Department of Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley, United States
Originally from Southern California, Caleb did his undergraduate in Ecology and Evolutionary biology at University of California Santa Cruz, where he became interested in plant community ecology. After graduating he worked as a vegetation ecologist at Point Reyes National Seashore and Pinnacles National Park. His current research interests include bryophyte community ecology, ecophysiology and systematics, and using phylogenetic and trait information to better understand the dynamics of community assembly. His dissertation research explores these questions using the Orthotrichum lyellii species complex as a model.

Camila Romero

Universidad de los Llanos, Colombia
I am a biologist at the University of the Llanos (Villavicencio, Colombia). My research interests are the biology and taxonomy of bryophytes, especially aquatic bryophyte communities as bionicators. During my undergraduate work I studied the relationship of the physical chemical parameters of water with the ecological response of these plants. Actually, I want to expand my knowledge to include this group in water quality monitoring.

Enrique Hernandez-Rodriguez

Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, Mexico
I am a biologist from Oaxaca, Mexico. I graduated from the Universidad de la Sierra Juárez (UNSIJ) and my research subject was to analyze the moss richness along an altitudinal gradient in the cloud forest of the Sierra Juárez of Oaxaca. Currently I am having my masters at the Instituto de Investigaciones sobre los Recursos Naturales of the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, in Michoacán, Mexico. My current research is to analyze the effects of forest management on moss communities in pine-oak vegetation in the Sierra of Oaxaca. Therefore, I am interested in the ecology of bryophytes in forest environments. Likewise, I am carrying out a parallel work on ethnobiology in Oaxaca, mainly the traditional use of bryophytes by indigenous communities. Some other topics I have started to work on are: bryofloristic inventories of Oaxaca, construction of a database of bryological collections in Mexico and biotic interactions with bryophytes (vertebrates and invertebrates). So far, my work has been focused on a division of bryophytes, so I want to deepen the study of the remaining groups to continue research and increase the knowledge of this group of plants in Mexico and in regions of great biological richness like Oaxaca.

Erin Cox

University of Alberta, Canada
I am an undergrad student at the University of Alberta obtaining a degree in Biological Sciences. My undergrad research has focused on the morphological characteristics of the Polytrichaceae in the Arctic and I am currently describing a new species to science. My research interests include the genetic and morphological variation of arctic bryophytes as well as biogeography and population dynamics.

Juan Ramirez

Industrial University of Santander, Colombia
Currently I'm studying Biology (undergraduate) at Universidad Industrial de Santander (UIS), my studies have focused in botany and I'm interested in taxonomy, physiology and ecology of mosses at Andean region, especially for its amazing diversity. My undergraduate research project involves the desiccation tolerance and the strategies for recovery and survivor of this organism. between my objectives for my future research line is to contribute to the species knowledge in my region that have a lot of unique ecosystems because I've always believed that taxonomy is the basis of all studies in biology, and of course in botany

Karla Magaña

Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, Mexico Herbario EBUM
I am a Master's Degree student in Biological Sciences at the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, located in Morelia, Michoacan; Mexico. My current interests are to study the diversity of liverworts in Mexico based on different characteristics of these as: morphological, ecological and molecular ones. I have worked with these plants making taxonomic lists and phylogenies based on molecular and morphological characters for the State of Michoacán. My current research topic focuses on the phylogeography of the Thaloid liverwort Targionia hypophylla which is a cosmopolitan species, with this research we are interested in knowing if the populations of T. hypophylla around the world are the same (ie, if there is a genetic flow between them) or if these populations have been genetically differentiated.

Katherine Zevallos

Universidad Nacional Agraria la Molina, Peru
I graduated from Biology-Ecology, oriented and in love with the bryophytes of the Tropical rainforests. My main interest is the taxonomy and ecology of mosses in tropical forests. My undergraduate thesis project aims at describing, taxonomy and wealth in different types of forest. Little knowledge and lack of description for mosses have limited scientific research in Peru. My main desire is to build pillars for the conservation, proper management and valuation that bryophytes deserve.

Lilisbeth Rodríguez

University of Panama, Panama
My name is Lilisbeth Rodríguez, I'm a Biology student at the Universidad de Panamá; for my graduation project, I was working on Barro Colorado Island, where I evaluated the causes in the colonization events of Leptolejeunea elliptica (Lehm & Lindenb) Schiffn, a common hepatic species in undergrowth shrubs in tropical forests. Taking two sites, with different microclimatic conditions, evaluated for six months the growth of this liver in two species of different shrubs; Hybanthus prunifolius and Psycotria horizontalis (both common undergrowth shrub species). The main microclimatic differences to be evaluated were temperature, light and humidity.