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Thread: Sphagnum moss cultivation resources

  1. #1
    War. War never changes. Est's Avatar
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    Sphagnum moss cultivation resources

    My lab is considering doing some research on carbon and nitrogen cycling dynamics in Sphganum peatlands! Somewhat more specifically, as a lab component we're looking to cultivate Sphagnum (from some Wisconsin field sites) in the lab using labeled nitrogen (15N labeled ammonium and nitrate) and ultimately use it as a complex C and N source and investigate enzymatic/microbial activity. As more bogs are drained, degraded, or dry out from changing climate and hydrological factors, there is a potential for peat to start degrading at an accelerated rate and be a big source of more greenhouse gases.

    I have access to journals (and google, before someone LMGTFYs me) but I figure TF is a pretty diverse body of anecdotes and experience with literature. I've grown Sphagnum incidentally or intentionally for more than a decade, but I've never really tried to optimize it, so this could be a fun little project.

    Since just about all of us have at least some experience/interest in cultivating sphag, I figured I would see if anyone had some resources to recommend. So, I'd love to hear from you all: what're your references, thoughts, and tricks for cultivating?
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    Hello, I must be going... Not a Number's Avatar
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    From the British Bryological Society Website

    Moss Grower's Handbook (has a section on Sphagnum)
    http://rbg-web2.rbge.org.uk/bbs/Resources/Fletcher.pdf

    Some tips and links to other resources (including the above) here:
    http://culturesheet.org/sphagnaceae:sphagnum

    Av8tor1's page on growing Sphagnum
    http://bluegrasscarnivores.com/

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    War. War never changes. Est's Avatar
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    Excellent resources, thanks! Confirms some of my thoughts, and puts numbers to some of the things I was uncertain about. I'll definitely need to see what species we'll be dealing with (and hoping that it wont be a particularly slow grower).

    I will be interested to see what levels of nitrogen addition will be acceptable. Most resources (as with CPs) simply state sensitivity and leave it at that.

    I'd still love to hear from the rest of you, even if it's just thoughts and experiences!
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    sarracenia lover dionae's Avatar
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    I think its a great experiment and i'll be following closely.

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    Formerly known as Pineapple Nepenthesis's Avatar
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    Hm... I've seemed to amount more than a fair share of Sphagnum in a year and a half of growing it. I haven't focused much on making it grow rapidly because every form I have grows pretty much at the same rate for me. Here's information I've gathered on growing it, if this helps any...

    I've found that if the culture has too much water in it, the low areas of the culture will decay.
    One thought I've had was to having flowing water through it, rather than 100% stagnant water in culture medium.
    I've been to a big lake (2-3 miles all the way around) where the banks are covered in thick Sphagnum.
    However, the only banks that are covered are the areas with slowly-moving water or areas that are protected by the wake from boats or streams flowing in.
    I think it would be awesome if you were able to have cultures were the water circulated very slowly (maybe a drip line with a low-pressure stream of water trickling out of it, then draining through the bottom,
    being filtered and re-trickled into the culture.

    On the same lake, looking very carefully along the path that runs 5-10 feet away from the bank, the only area I've found Sphagnum was a tiny, tiny rock face (a couple square feet) on the side of a hill where water trickled down from runoff (like during rain)... However, that was a similar but obviously different species of Sphagnum growing there.

    Maybe the best thing to do would be to replicate the exact conditions of the location you found the Sphagnum at. But that brings up another issue, because all Sphagnum grows in different conditions. I suspected that the lake I found all of the Sphagnum growing at was a high-nutrient water. It obviously wasn't deprived of nutrients because there were tons of deer in the area, tons of fish in the lake, frogs that probably expel waste in the Sphagnum, not to mention all of the tiny bugs that live in the Sphagnum and die in it. That species of Sphagnum could probably tolerate higher nutrient levels than in a nutrient-low bog. Also, it was growing under the shade on trees growing along the banks and in the shallow water, so perhaps it would grow better in low light levels than Sphagnum in a full-sun bog would.

    Also, another thing that was told to me on forums is that any red Sphagnum I got would turn green within a few weeks in my conditions. I found that to be untrue, even through the winter. I have one species that stays multicolored all year, never full red, but it has a bit more red/orange in there than it does green. Another species I have is less red and turned green for a short period of time before it grew in to fill the culture (which only took one summer). I also have a species that was purple and it turned fully green, and although it is a slower grower than the other red species I have, it has pretty much filled out the culture in one growing season and it is starting to turn purple again.

    I don't have any specific references because there's literally no information online other than how to start a culture for beginners, or a rare dichotomous key for a few select species, or a short wiki page for a species of Sphagnum. You best bet would probably be the documents you have or by information given to you by growers.

    IIRC WireMan had a document for identification of Sphagnum species in some state like Connecticut or something... Since he doesn't even live in that state and he has access to those kinds of documents, you might want to PM him and see if he has any references he could send to you.

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    Av8tor1's Avatar
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    I can add another good ref: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxGC...rive_web&pli=1

    In my original online guide I state only use RO, yada yada yada.... but I think a small amount of nutrients is beneficial for robust growth levels

    Other than that, I still agree with the rest of it
    Last edited by Av8tor1; 10-17-2013 at 02:09 PM.

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    War. War never changes. Est's Avatar
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    Thanks for the responses, everyone. You've given me lots to read!

    I'll be sure to get as much information about the collection site as possible. Fortunately the area should be well-studied since it is a a large-scale research site; hopefully that will mean no needing to key moss out and well-documented growing conditions.

    In regards to nutrients, I should be able to have pretty fine control on inputs since our water will be from our brand new deionized water setup -- an order which I need to remember to place tomorrow.

    Lighting will be an interesting element. We probably have a few options, ranging from window sill, to artificial lighting, to greenhouse space, to temperature-controlled incubator. We'll see how things develop!
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