|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 404 February 25, email@example.com||Victoria, B.C.|
It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of Canada’s leading, and most celebrated bryologist, Professor Emeritus Wilfred Borden Schofield. Wilf passed away on November 5, 2008, having succumbed to cancer. He was 81.
Wilf was born in Brooklyn Corner, Nova Scotia on July 19, 1927. He attended Acadia University from 1946-50 where he earned a B.A. with the intention of becoming a school teacher. However, his love of plants, nurtured through the mentorship of Chalmers Smith and J.S. Erskine, led him to pursue postgraduate studies that included work in both bryology (taxonomy) and vascular plants (ecology). Acadia University later bestowed upon him an Honorary Doctorate of Science in recognition of his lifelong contributions to botany (1990).
Wilf completed his M.A. at Stanford University in 1956 under the direction of W.C. Steere, a well known American bryologist, who eventually became the Director of the New York Botanic Garden. His thesis was a taxonomic work on a difficult genus entitled "The relationships and Geographic Distribution of Canadian and Alaskan species of Hypnum". Wilf’s lifelong interest in this genus eventually resulted in the publication of a North American revision for the Bryophyte Flora of North America (http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=50&taxon_id=116204). During his time at Stanford, Wilf worked with another well known bryologist, Howard Crum, who was the Curator of Cryptogams at the National Museum in Ottawa at the time. Wilf spent two field seasons (1955-56) with Crum collecting bryophytes in the Rocky Mountains, from Waterton Lakes to the Yukon Territory.
It was while he was at Stanford that Wilf met his future bride, Margaret (Peggy) Irene (nee Bledsoe; d. 2005). After a short courtship, they were married in 1956. Soon after completing his M.A. (and for Peggy, her M.A. in Music), they moved to North Carolina, where Wilf began Ph.D. studies with the plant ecologist, H.J. Oosting, at Duke University. This time, it was an ecological thesis, entitled "The Ecotone between Spruce Fir and Deciduous Forest in the Great Smoky Mountains". Wilf graduated in 1960, and soon after he and Peggy moved to Vancouver, British Columbia where Wilf had accepted a position as a faculty member with the Department of Botany at the University of British Columbia.
Before they moved west, friends warned Wilf, “Don’t go there… all the weird ones move west”. I don’t think Wilf was ever considered “weird”, but it was in British Columbia that he fuelled his passion for bryophytes and began a long, outstanding career as the foremost bryologist in Canada. He retired in 1992 but was appointed Professor Emeritus shortly thereafter.
Wilf’s interests were mainly phytogeographic, at least in the early and middle years, when he published many papers on the floristics and distribution of bryophytes in British Columbia. Among the more important works is a contribution to a volume on the Queen Charlotte Islands. The chapter, entitled “Structure and affinities of the bryoflora of the Queen Charlotte Islands” was the culmination of 35 years of field work on the islands.
In his later years, Wilf contributed numerous taxonomic papers on the genera Hypnum, Taxithelium, Brotherella, and the family Sematophyllaceae, among others. In addition he contributed extensively to the Bryophyte flora of North America: Takakiaceae, Buxbaumiaceae, Hypnum, Buxbaumiaceae, Diphysciaceae, Disceliaceae, Dicranoweisia, and Rhabdoweisia.
His publications reflect Wilf’s diverse interests and his adeptness as a botanist. Although he specialized in mosses and liverworts, he also published at least eight papers on lichens and vascular plants.
In addition to peer reviewed articles, Wilf’s publications include chapters in four plant textbooks (An Evolutionary Survey of the Plant Kingdom, Plant Diversity: An Evolutionary Approach, Nonvascular Plants: An Evolutionary Survey, Plants: An Evolutionary Survey), an introductory bryophyte textbook (Introduction to Bryology), as well as numerous field handbooks.
Wilf taught courses in Phytogeography, Bryology, and “Ferns and Allies”. As a teacher he was tireless. He devoted considerable energy updating his notes, which he did yearly. In the bryology and ferns course he used fresh material as much as possible, which he often collected the day of the lab or the day before. Sometimes he would do so by walking through the Pacific Spirit Park on his way to work.
The introductory bryophyte textbook gained some notoriety. The book arose as a result of the bryology course, and is an expansion of his notes for that course. It was published in 1986 and earned several accolades: “Excellence in book design and production” by the Association of American Publishers, and the George Lawson Medal for 1986 for the same book Introduction to Bryology by the Canadian Botanical Association for "single contribution to botanical knowledge of outstanding distinction."
Wilf had a deep love of field work which lasted to the end of his life: he had spent the summer in Alaska before his passing later that fall. He believed that to truly understand and know the bryophytes, one had to see and study them in their natural habitat. It was only in this way that one could learn the habitats and microhabitat requirement of individual species and understand their morphological diversity. His direct and extensive experience with bryophytes in the field was reflected not only in his works, but also in his reputation: he was considered by colleagues, students, and acquaintances to be a wealth of botanical knowledge and was frequently sought after for advice and information.
There were very few years in which Wilf did not spend a summer in the field. Most of his field work was in British Columbia. He was particularly fond of the Queen Charlotte Islands, where he conducted field work over 35 years. He also spent many seasons along the coast and worked five summers in the Atlantic Provinces. During the last 15 years of his life however, summers were spent collecting in the Aleutian Islands. The latter work will culminate in a moss flora of the Aleutians, one which is nearly complete. It will be finished posthumously.
Wilf was an avid plant collector. Some referred to him as a ‘garbage bagger’ in reference to the volumes of material that he amassed during field trips. But there was a reason for this ‘madness’. Wilf felt strongly that if one was to collect for science, then it was important to obtain good material, and enough material for duplicates. As a result, the bryophyte collection at UBC is second in size only to the National Museum in Ottawa (CANM) – all due to Wilf’s assiduousness. On size of the CANM collection Wilf would remark that, “CANM is only bigger because I sent them so many duplicates!” In any case, there are many herbaria around the world that will never be able to repay their “exchange’ debt to UBC because of Wilf’s hard work. Moreover, the “data” in the form of specimen vouchers that Wilf has contributed to bryology will always remain invaluable to our understanding of the distributions of bryophytes. His last collecting number was 128,619. It was a Bryum species collected from Umak Island, not long after the volcano erupted.
The greatness of individuals is often measured by their accomplishments. While Wilf’s accomplishments in bryology will be remembered and have influence on the science for many years, it will undoubtedly be the person himself that many of us will remember most. Wilf was a great person, a genuine, generous and welcoming person. On my first meeting with him, he ushered me into his office and immediately offered me a cup o’ tea. We then chatted and discussed bryology, politics, books and many other topics. I later watched him welcome many others into his office, students, colleagues, professors. All were treated equally and with sincere hospitality. Wilf will be dearly missed.
A more detailed obituary will appear in The Bryologist later in 2009.
A Celebration of Wilfred Schofield’s Life will take place on May 9th, from 5 – 9 PM at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver.
Mentors can play an important role in shaping a life. Wilf started his academic career at Acadia University with the intention of becoming a school teacher but, partly due to the encouragement of several mentors, he went on to earn two graduate degrees in Botany and then to a successful and lengthy career as a Bryologist.
In his turn, Wilf mentored many botany students. He taught for over 30 years at the University of British Columbia and, in later years, at multiday workshops. He was a gifted teacher; always eager to help and share his knowledge. He would willingly delve into taxonomic keys and his vast library to assist in the identification of an interesting but troublesome specimen.
Photos by Wynne Miles
I first met Wilf at a bryoforay held at Mesachie Lake in the spring of 1999. His enthusiasm and love for bryophytes was infectious and I was inspired to focus on these small but infinitely fascinating plants.
Two years later, I took Bryology (Biology 321) at the University of British Columbia. Wilf had been retired since 1992 and was a professor emeritus. However, at that time and over the next eight years, he came to work regularly, visited the Bryology 321 lab sessions to help the students, gave guest lectures and encouraged the students to consult with him. He was generous with his time. I and many others enjoyed long conversations over cups of tea; with topics ranging from bryology, ecology and phytogeography, to music, politics, the value of an education (versus training!) and the need for pure research.
Wilf was an extraordinary botanist, a fine gentleman, and a good friend and mentor to many lucky people. He will be missed.
To all who knew him, Wilf Schofield was a warm, generous human being whose keen intelligence and deep, abiding curiosity suited him to a wide range of intellectual and aesthetic pursuits, including bryophytes, phytogeography, taxonomy, "hay-baling" (collecting), writing, music, literature, poetry, and, not least, good wines. A few of us knew Wilf also as a dedicated environmentalist, whose moral outrage around certain human activities - industrial logging, open-pit mining, hydroelectric projects, air pollution, urban sprawl - was often well rehearsed on his students, colleagues and close friends. I do believe that much of Wilf's legendary passion for teaching sprang from a conviction that he was helping to create a cadre of environmentally dedicated taxonomists, some of whom would surely go on to foil the best laid plans of CEO's, logging magnates, right-wing politicians and other individuals endowed, presumably, with only vestigial limbic systems.
In the spring of 1992 Wilf and I (Trevor) were casting about for a project that would get us out in the field together from time to time. After some discussion, we decided to undertake a long-term study of bryophytes (Wilf) and lichens (me) associated with waterfall spray zones. Actually this was an obvious choice, given Wilf's long-standing love affair with waterfalls, especially Bridal Veil Falls, near Chilliwack. One wonders just how many of his friends, students and visiting colleagues found themselves invited out for a day of collecting at the "Falls.". According to his collection books, Wilf visited Bridal Veil Falls at least 53 times between 1964 and 2006 – 27 times by himself and 26 in the company of others. When Nathalie Djan-Chekar, Wilf's last Masters student, was working up her thesis on the bryophytes of Bridal Veil Falls (completed in 1993), she had at her disposal a rich assemblage of specimens that, added to her own collections, yielded 150 mosses and 60 liverworts! See: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/1348
In the end Wilf and I carried out only two waterfall inventories, both in Wells Gray Park, where I have some favourite waterfalls of my own. Many more outings were planned, but sadly these yielded to all the usual reasons things don't get done: bad weather, unexpected visitors, pending deadlines, family business and, in later years, declining vigour. Still our interest in the project never waned, and we continued to discuss our personal observations on waterfall bryophytes and lichens right up until Wilf's last year. Thinking back over those conversations, I can easily follow a shift from purely scientific considerations in the early days to a deepening concern for the continued existence of waterfall habitats per se; but more of that in a moment.
The spray zones created by waterfalls are effectively ‘vertical wetlands’ kept cool in summer, mild in winter, and consistently moister than surrounding habitats as a result of constant exposure to atomized water. Though Wilf and I at first intended to focus our study on waterfall spray zones, we soon realized that waterfalls affect the occurrence of bryophytes and lichens far beyond the reach of spray. Presumably this is owing to a continuous outflow of cool air that promotes the establishment of oceanic cryptogams. "Waterfall influence zone" or simply "waterfall zone" would perhaps be more descriptive of the phenomenon as a whole.
We also quickly realized that not all waterfall zones are created equal, in the sense that some promote rich cryptogam floras, while others do not. Actually this is about what you'd expect given so many potential variations in topography, aspect, associated talus, forest cover, and general habitat heterogeneity. Superimposed over all this, of course, is water chemistry. Even moderate amounts of calcium carbonate suspended in the spray of waterfalls can promote assemblages of cryptogams very different from those associated with streams less rich in nutrient loadings. Interestingly, this means that knowing what bedrock type underlies a particular waterfall is less important than knowing what bedrock types occur upstream. Also critical here is water temperature, since warmer water holds more nutrients in suspension than colder water. The resulting variation in water chemistry could seem a bit of a nuisance, but for Wilf and me this is precisely what made waterfall inventories so fascinating: predicting which species will or won't turn up is tricky business. A bit like hunting for mushrooms, that way.
Other factors also come to bear. For one thing, waterfalls with strong seasonal variation in stream flow seem much poorer in regionally rare cryptogams than waterfalls that flow at nearly equal volume year round. No less critical, at least in inland regions, is the extent to which a given waterfall freezes over in winter. This is because frozen spray can coat trees and rocks in sheets of ice, and so prevent cryptogams from occupying habitats that would otherwise tend to promote them. On the other hand, waterfalls hidden behind a mask of ice in winter produce much less freezing spray; they tend to be associated with healthy lichen communities. Likewise, waterfall zones that have been recently disturbed, e.g., within the past century, are much less likely to support "interesting" cryptogams than their counterparts with much longer environmental continuity.
What is actually known about the biological significance of waterfall zones in British Columbia? Not much, though what little we do know makes clear that we urgently need to know much more. Obviously waterfall zones can be thought of as ecological "petri dishes", that is, tiny islands of habitat conducive to the establishment of species otherwise much more common elsewhere. Effectively they function as range extenders, especially in inland areas, where several macrolichens – for example Anaptychia setifera, Lobaria oregana, Pilophorus clavatus, Pseudocyphellaria crocata, P. mallota – occur predominantly or even exclusively in the vicinity of waterfalls. For species such as these, the highly localized conditions characteristic of waterfalls zones often promote stable, durable "source populations", thereby sustaining them in regions far outside their main ranges. One wonders to what extent this tendency of waterfalls to create disjunct populations might contribute to genetic variation within certain species.
Unfortunately, all is not well with British Columbia's waterfalls. The B.C. government projects a greatly increased demand for electricity in the years ahead. In principle, half of this projected increase is supposed to be offset by more efficient use of existing power. As for the other half, the people of B.C. are being granted two options: either we put up with fuel-burning electrical plants, or else we accept a combination of windpower, geothermal power and hydropower. At the moment the favoured option, at least by government, seems to be hydropower, which means we can look forward either to further impoundment of the Peace River by the Site C dam, or else to innumerable creek diversion projects. Or more likely both.
The creek diversion projects – "Run of the river" in government speak – are to be constructed and operated by private firms. These, the independent power producers, or IPPs, prefer to locate their intake dams on portions of creeks where they tumble over steep, rocky ground. While the dams allow some of the water to occupy the stream's original course, the remainder is diverted through a pipe down to the powerhouse. Here diverted water is run through turbines and then returned to the creek. The B.C. government is not wrong to refer to these "run of the river" projects as a renewable energy source; but the degree to which creek diversions are truly 'green' is debatable. By diverting water from creeks, IPPs are certain to diminish the ability of affected waterfalls to support rare bryophytes and lichens. No less disturbing, road construction associated with these developments will give access to some of the province's last remaining low-elevation old-growth rainforests. Can chainsaws be far behind?
Creek diversion projects are becoming common in many parts of the world. Biologists in other countries – India, New Zealand, Tanzania, the U.K. – have begun to speak out about the threats to biodiversity posed by the loss of waterfall zones. Furthest ahead, perhaps, are the Norwegians, both in the number of creeks now dedicated to hydropower production, and in public outcry over the resulting drawdown on regional biodiversity. Here in British Columbia, we really haven't begun to assess the scope of our own conservation issues around the loss of waterfall zones. Early indications are that we've overlooked a major axis of the province's biological diversity. With more than 100 diversion projects already up and running, and nearly 700 more awaiting government approval, maybe it's time we began to take the implications of all this activity seriously. Wilf, I feel pretty certain, would heartily approve.
Disjunct liverworts occurring in tropical America and Africa were studied by Gradstein et al. (1983), while Afro-Asian disjunct bryophytes (Palaeotropic species) were studied by Pócs (1976, 1992). Seventy-two Afro-Asian/Pacific Marchantiophyta (liverworts) were enumerated in the two studies. Their distribution pattern is quite variable. There are species equally distributed in both continents, e.g., Cheilolejeunea serpentine (Mitt.) Mizut. and Cephaloziella kiaeri (Aust.) Douin. The latter (and many more) also occur in Australasia and in the Pacific islands. There are species with their main distribution in Africa with scattered occurrences in Asia, such as Lejeunea tuberculosa Steph. (tropical Africa + Himalaya), and even more with the bulk of their distribution on the Asian continent and rare in Africa, like Calycularia crispula Mitt., Drepanolejeunea ternatensis (Gottsche) Schiffn., Gottschelia schizopleura (Spruce) Grolle. Quite a number of Asian-Oceanian species reach westwards only to the Indian Ocean Islands (Seychelles, Madagascar, Mascarenes, Comores) in Africa and do not occur on the continent. These include Archilejeunea planiuscula (Mitt.) Steph., Schiffneriolejeunea tumida (Nees) Gradst., and Spruceanthus marinaus (Gottsche) Mizut. on the Seychelles, Cololejeunea peponiformis Mizut. in Madagascar and in Réunion, and Wiesnerella denudate (Mitt.) Steph. in Réunion.
Recent investigations (e.g.,Pócs 1995, and some other works) revealed the presence of more Asian/Pacific species mainly from the East African Islands: Cheilolejeunea pluriplicata (Pears.) R.M. Schust. (African mountains incl. the Indian Ocean islands, recently known from Himalaya) Cheilolejeunea ventricosa (Schiffn.) He (Mauritius) Haplomitrium blumei (Nees) R.M. Schust. (Rwanda, Zaire) Harpalejeunea filicuspis (Steph.) Mizut. (Seychelles, Comores) Iwatsukia jishibae (Steph.) Kitag. (Bioko, Malawi, Seychelles, Comores, Madagascar, Réunion, Mauritius) Leptolejeunea elliptica (Lehm. & Lindenb.) Schiffn. (Comores) Metalejeunea cucullata (Reinw. Et al.) Grolle (Seychelles, Comores)
The known number of Afro-Asian disjuncts increased also because of synonyms established between species described under different names on the two continents, such as: Bazzania praerupta (Reinw. et al.) Trevis. (tropical Africa) Cololejeunea vidaliana Tixier (Kenya, Tanzania, Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rodriguez) Cheilolejeunea trapezia (Nees) Kachroo & R.M.Schust. (tropical Africa).
Scholarly bryology books, ranging from floras to reviews, are few in number and scattered through time, reflecting the paucity of bryologists when compared to the large population of vascular plant scientists. However, bryology books that make it through the murkiness of the publishing gauntlet must be applauded. Such applause is certainly warranted with the second edition of Bryophyte Biology. Even though it has been only eight years between editions, so much has happened in some of the fields covered in this new edition that updates are both necessary and highly informative making this edition a valuable contribution to the libraries of serious bryologists. As with the earlier edition, the content of the new edition of Bryophyte Biology is somewhat limited and, as a colleague pointed out, ‘lab-based’, focused mainly on morphology and classification, evolutionary studies, and physiological ecology, with chapters on populations and community ecology, peatlands, and conservation. Most of the chapters contain extensive updates from the first edition, and some new information is presented, in particular the importance of the moss genus Physcomitrella to plant genomic research, research on bryophyte drought tolerance, and a phylogenomic perspective on land plant evolution. Major strengths of the new edition are the clarity of the writing, which makes some potentially dense dialogue readily available to the reader, and the excellent and thorough reviews of primary literature. The preface not only effectively introduces the focus and goals of the book, and outlines its limitations, but also firmly states that bryophytes are being taken seriously and are no longer considered ‘evolutionarily boring’. It also notes that some of the evolutionary and classification concepts introduced in the book are controversial, and certainly not final answers. The goals of this edition of Bryophyte Biology are similar to the first edition, that is either as a text for a bryology course, or as a reference for scientists working with bryophytes in specific fields. This book is certainly useful as a reference, but I am unsure of its value as a course text, given that most bryology courses (when they exist) are more basic in nature and may not benefit from using this text. I am also uncertain, given the cost of the book and its limited focus, whether Bryophyte Biology is useful to the novice bryologist, a person who appreciates bryophytes but has had little or no training given the lack of available courses or specialists to help them. However, each chapter is so well thought out, and the introductions to the various groups of bryophytes clear and highly informative, that it may prove to be a ‘good read’ for novices wishing to advance their knowledge of bryophytes. Minor criticisms include the poor quality of some of the photographs (too small or too gray) and, possibly, the lack of a glossary, although the use of Google rectifies most if not all concerns about terminology and, in some cases, the illustrations. Another review and the Table of Contents for this second edition can be viewed at: http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521693225
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