Tropical Bryology Group

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The Tropical Bryology Group (TBG) was a special interest group within the BBS, dedicated to the study and conservation of tropical bryophytes. It was formed in 1988 and was active until at least 2010, when other commitments took over for many members, and their involvement gradually ceased. The group has never formally been wound up, but is not currently active.

Members of the TBG published many papers, including checklists of species and some identification resources which are listed under Publications below.

During their active period, the TBG set up and maintained their own website, which was later (in 2013) incorporated into the main BBS website. With the launch of the new website in 2021, it was decided to archive the full TBG website, but to retain useful resources and links.

If you require any information from the original TBG website, please contact the website editors by email at

Summary of TBG activities

The following account is adapted from Wilbraham, J. 2012. A brief history of the TBG. (published on the original TBG website).

The reasons for setting up a tropical bryology group in the BBS were probably first formally stated in Royce Longton’s paper to the BBS Jubilee Meeting in 1983 (Longton, 1985) where he wrote persuasively of the urgent need to speed up the advancement of bryophyte taxonomy in the tropics. The tropics, in comparison to temperate zones, were extremely under-researched bryologically.

By 1989, a specialist Tropical Bryology Group of the BBS was firmly established, principally led by Brian O’Shea and Martin Wigginton, with the aim to encourage and promote research on tropical bryophytes. It was considered especially important to encourage collaboration and cooperation between the members of a TBG and bryologists living and working in the tropics.

One of the early achievements of the group was the publication of a guide to collecting bryophytes in the tropics (O’Shea 1989). At the time, many tropical expeditions also occasionally collected bryophytes. However, without some specific bryological guidance these were not always as useful to science as perhaps they could have been. Brian’s guide aimed at bridging this knowledge gap by providing practical advice in collecting bryophyte specimens and also helping to promote a broader interest in bryophytes.

Expedition to Malawi, 1991

Martin Wigginton, Nick Hodgetts, Zach Magombo, Shaun Russell, Royce Longton, Brian O’Shea, Edwin Kathumba. Front row: Master Singama, Liz Kungu, Ron PorleyThe first TBG expedition took place in 1991 to Mt Mulanje in Malawi, led by Shaun Russell.

There were two objectives: a bryophyte inventory and an ecological project looking at altitudinal effect on bryophyte diversity.

Approximately 4500 collections were made on the trip, with duplicates sent to major herbaria including the Malawi national herbarium at Zomba. As herbarium specimens form the foundation of taxonomic and floristic work this thorough set of reference material could provide a wealth of taxonomic data to the bryological community for years to come.

The main challenge upon return from the expedition was the identification of these hundreds of packets of bryophyte specimens! Most of the TBG members involved, although experienced bryologists, were new to the African flora. A lack of available literature, difficulty in accessing major herbarium reference collections and, not least, a lack of time (most members dedicated their own time to this project) presented many hurdles. However, the group rose to the challenge and succeeded in making a major contribution to African bryology with a remarkable 52% of the taxa recorded being new to Malawi. The results of this expedition were published over a series of papers in Journal of Bryology (see below).

Expeditions to Uganda

In the mid 1990’s, following the success of the Malawi project, and with accrued experience with the African flora, the group began to look into possibilities for a return trip to the African tropics.

In 1995, Nick Hodgetts and Martin Wigginton put together an application to the UK government’s Darwin Initiative scheme for three visits to Uganda, with the cooperation of Makerere University. The bid was successful.

These expeditions took place between 1996 and 1998 with objectives of producing inventories of areas visited; ecological studies and a training course in bryology at a local university. Again, the collection of herbarium specimens to be made was also a major objective for the project and would provide a long lasting legacy of research material to make available to bryologists worldwide.

The Mosses and Liverworts of Uganda project, coordinated by Jeff Bates, aimed to build on the results of these expeditions to produce a complete bryophyte flora of Uganda. Experts in particular bryophyte groups were approached to write accounts for the flora using reference material collected on the expeditions. Originally envisaged as a book, the project evolved as an on-going series of papers published in Journal of Bryology.

Réunion Island

Collaborators from University de la Réunion,  La Réunion Parc National and the British Bryological Society at the Bryophytes of Mascarene Islands – Taxonomic Workshop and Field Meeting on Réunion Island in 2008.

The last expedition project for the TBG involved the bryophyte flora of the Mascarene Islands. The TBG were invited to participate in a taxonomic workshop and field meeting held on Réunion Island in 2008, working with the bryological community to carry out survey work; collect specimens for herbaria and help with training opportunities for local botanists (and each other!) with a series of seminars and workshops in identification. This successful project resulted in over 30 new taxa records reported for Réunion (Ah-Peng et al. 2010).


In addition to the formal publications listed below, the TBG produced informal checklists, keys and other useful documents which were only available as downloads from their website. These are listed – and downloads provided – on the Tropical bryophyte resources page in the Resource section of this website.

The group also published regular progress reports and newsletters which have been combined into 2 pdf files for download here.

Progress reports

Progress reports were published annually in Field Bryology and its precursor The Bulletin. However these have been extracted and combined into a single pdf containing all the progress reports published and covering the years 1989-2005.

TBG Progress Reports 1989-2005


Newsletters were produced on an ad-hoc basis, initially roughly 2 per year, then annually. These have also been combined into a single pdf containing all the newsletters published.

TBG Newsletters 1991 - 2010


Enroth, J, Hodgetts, NG. 1996. BBS Expedition to Mulanje Mountain, Malawi 5: Neckeraceae (Musci). Journal of Bryology 19: 135-142

Frahm, J-P, O’Shea, BJ. 1996. BBS Expedition to Mulanje Mountain, Malawi 4: Dicranaceae: Campylopodioideae (Atractylocarpus, Bryohumbertia, Campylopus, Microcampylopus). Journal of Bryology 19: 119-134

Hodgetts, NG. 1996. BBS Expedition to Mulanje Mountain, Malawi 3: Erpodiaceae (Musci). Journal of Bryology 19: 113-118

Hodgetts, NG. 1997. BBS Expedition to Mulanje Mountain, Malawi 7: Adelanthaceae, Porellaceae, Schistochilaceae (Hepaticae). Journal of Bryology 19: 521-525

Hodgetts, NG, Pócs T. 1999. BBS Expedition to Mulanje Mountain, Malawi 10: Lepidoziaceae (Hepaticae). Journal of Bryology 21: 316-318

Kruijer, JD. 1997. BBS Expedition to Mulanje Mountain, Malawi 6: Hypopterygiaceae (Musci). Journal of Bryology 19: 515-520

Longton, RE. 1993. BBS Expedition to Mulanje Mountain, Malawi 1: Background, itinerary and procedures. Journal of Bryology 17: 633-644.

O’Shea, BJ. 1993. BBS Expedition to Mulanje Mountain, Malawi 2: Checklist of Malawi bryophytes. Journal of Bryology 17: 645-670.

O’Shea, BJ. 1997. BBS Expedition to Mulanje Mountain, Malawi 9: Regmatodontaceae, Rhachitheciaceae, Rhacocarpaceae, Rhizogoniaceae (Bryopsida). Journal of Bryology 19: 805-813

O’Shea, BJ. 1999. BBS Expedition to Mulanje Mountain, Malawi 11: Pterigynandraceae M.Fleisch. and Rigodiaceae H.A.Crum (Bryopsida) in Africa . Journal of Bryology 21: 309-313

O’Shea, BJ, Wigginton, MJ, Bruggeman-Nannenga, MA, Hodgetts, NG & Porley, RD. 2001. BBS Expedition to Mulanje Mountain, Malawi 13: New and other unpublished records 1. Tropical Bryology 20: 1-26

O’Shea, BJ. 2003. BBS Expedition to Mulanje Mountain, Malawi 16: A revision of Schoenobryum (Cryphaeaceae, Bryopsida) in Africa. Tropical Bryology 24: 147-159

O’Shea, BJ, Tan, BC. 2006. BBS Expedition to Mulanje Mountain, Malawi 17: Sematophyllaceae (Bryopsida): Part 1. Journal of Bryology 28: 360-362

Pócs, T. 2008. BBS Expedition to Mulanje Mountain, Malawi 19: Metzgeriaceae and other unpublished records. Tropical Bryology 29: 1-3

Porley, RD. 1997. BBS Expedition to Mulanje Mountain, Malawi 8: Lejeuneaceae: Colura (Hepaticae). Journal of Bryology 19: 799-803

Watling, MC, O’Shea, BJ. 2000. BBS Expedition to Mulanje Mountain, Malawi 12: A revision of the genus Rhacopilopsis Renauld & Cardot (Hypnaceae, Bryopsida). Journal of Bryology 22: 209-218

Wigginton, MJ, Porley, RD. 2001. BBS Expedition to Mulanje Mountain, Malawi 14: Allisoniaceae, Arnelliaceae, Aytoniaceae, Geocalycaeae, Gymnomitriaceae, Pallaviciniaceae (Hepaticae). Journal of Bryology 23: 133-138

Wigginton, MJ. 2001. BBS Expedition to Mulanje Mountain, Malawi 15: Lejeuneaceae, and the occurrence and frequency of foliicolous taxa. Tropical Bryology 20: 83-95

Wigginton, MJ, Porley, RD & Hodgetts, NG. 2007. BBS Expedition to Mulanje Mountain, Malawi 18: Cololejeunea lichenyae, a new species of Lejeuneaceae (Jungermanniopsida) from Malawi. Journal of Bryology 29: 7-11

Wigginton, MJ, Hodgetts, NG & Longton, RE. 2020. BBS expedition to Mulanje Mountain, Malawi. 16. New and other unpublished bryophyte records, 2. Journal of Bryology 42: 179-185


Bruggeman-Nannenga, MA. 2006. Bryophyte flora of Uganda. 6. Fissidentaceae (Part 1). Journal of Bryology 28: 53-62

Bruggeman-Nannenga, MA. 2006. Bryophyte flora of Uganda. 6. Fissidentaceae (Part 2). Journal of Bryology 28: 139-148

Ellis, L. 2007. Bryophyte flora of Uganda. 7. Calymperaceae and Octoblepharaceae. Journal of Bryology 29: 259-274

Hedenäs, L. 2005. Bryophyte flora of Uganda. 4. Rhytidiaceae, Hylocomiaceae and Hypnaceae (Part 1). Journal of Bryology 27: 55-66

Hedenäs, L & Watling, MC. 2005. Bryophyte flora of Uganda. 5. Hypnaceae (part 2). Journal of Bryology 27: 153-160

Hodgetts, NG, Goffinet, B. 1998. Hypnodontopsis (Thér.) H.Rob., a genus and species new to Africa. Journal of Bryology 20: 251-252.

O’Shea, BJ. 1999. Bryophytes of Uganda 3: Phyllodon truncatulus (Müll. Hal.) Buck is replaced in Africa by Phyllodon truncatus (Welw. & Duby) Buck (Hypnaceae, Bryopsida) . Tropical Bryology 16: 203-204.

O’Shea, BJ, Buck, WR. 2001. Bryophytes of Uganda 5: Bryocrumia L.E.Anderson (Hypnaceae), a monotypic moss genus new to Africa. Tropical Bryology 20: 103-107.

O’Shea, BJ, Wigginton, MJ, Bruggeman-Nannenga, MA, Hedenäs, L, Matcham, HW, Frahm, J-P, Porley, RD, Ellis, LT, Watling, MA & Bates, JE. 2003. Bryophytes of Uganda 6: New and additional records, 3. Tropical Bryology 24:161-168.

Porley, RD, O’Shea, BJ, Wigginton, MJ, Matcham, HW, Hodgetts, NG & Stevenson, CR. 1999. Bryophytes of Uganda 2: New and interesting records. Tropical Bryology 16: 179-193.

Vána, J. 2004. Bryophyte flora of Uganda. 1. Jungermanniaceae. Journal of Bryology 26: 147-151

Vána, J. 2004. Bryophyte flora of Uganda. 2. Gymnomitriaceae. Journal of Bryology 26: 199-202

Vána, J. 2004. Bryophyte flora of Uganda. 3. Lophoziaceae. Journal of Bryology 26: 293-299

Wigginton, MJ, Porley, RD & Hodgetts, NG. 1999. Bryophytes of Uganda 1: BBS Tropical Bryology Group expeditions, 1996-1998. Introduction and collecting sites. Tropical Bryology 16: 165-177.

Wigginton, MJ, O’Shea, BJ, Porley, RD & Matcham, HW. 2001. Bryophytes of Uganda 4: New and additional records, 2. Tropical Bryology 20: 55-62.

Wilbraham, J. 2008. Bryophyte flora of Uganda. 8. Orthotrichaceae (Part 1: Macromitrioideae). Journal of Bryology 30: 201-207

La Réunion

Ah-Peng, C, Bardat, J, Ellis, L, Malombe, I, Matcham, H, Pócs, T, Porley, R, Seneca, A, Söderstrom, L & Wilbraham, J. 2010. Additions to the bryoflora of Réunion Island 3: new and interesting records from the Tropical Bryology Group (British Bryological Society). Journal of Bryology 32: 288-295