Title: Using bryophytes as wetland indicator species for peatland integrity.
Abstract: In collaboration with WDNR, the US Forest Service, The Ridges Sanctuary, and others, I will develop and test a set of protocols for assessing wetland quality using bryophytes (mosses, liverworts, and hornworts). Bryophytes are an understudied but ecologically sensitive assemblage of plants, widespread and diverse in coastal Wisconsin peat-accumulating wetlands. Wisconsin bryophytes currently lack coefficients of conservatism (CCs); my first task will be to convene a working group to establish CCs for Wisconsin bryophytes, building on work in Ohio and New Jersey (the only US States with bryophyte CCs) and elsewhere. In this pilot phase of the project, I will work in a limited geographic area (Northeast Wisconsin) and focus on a subset of wetland communities (boreal rich fens and northern wet-mesic Forests). In future years, I will expand the scope of the project to encompass other regions, including the Lake Superior and southern Lake Michigan watersheds, and other plant communities, such as muskeg, open bog, and black spruce swamp. An important aspect of this work will be to modify and adapt existing WDNR protocols for wetland floristic quality assessments by providing an objective analysis of the bryophyte community. Specifically, I will address the question: "What can bryophytes tell us about ecosystem health and anthropogenic disturbance in Wisconsin peatlands?"
View Poster: https://www.wisconsinwetlands.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Keir-Wefferling-Poster.Wefferling.Keir_
Bio: Keir Wefferling is an Assistant Professor of biology and Curator of the Fewless Herbarium at UW-Green Bay. For his Ph.D. at UW-Milwaukee with Dr. Sara Hoot, Keir worked on the systematics and cytology of Caltha and completed a two-year postdoc with an NSF fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley, studying polyploidy in ferns. He now studies peatlands and their mosses and teaches botany.