Jessica Beever

Jessica Beever

Jessica Beever, Manganui Track on Mt Taranaki, January 2021, at c. 1200 m, with Rhacocarpus purpurascens and, on rock below, Andreaea sp. Photo: Gael Donaghy.

I was born Jessica Spragg in Hamilton, New Zealand, and have New Zealand M?ori ancestry (Ng?ti Toa, Te Ati Awa and Ng?ti Mutunga iwi) on my mother’s side, as well as English and Scottish forebears who emigrated several generations ago to seek life in a new land. My earliest memories of the natural world include family picnics by fast-flowing forest streams, cold water, but sun-baked rocks, on the slopes of the mountain Taranaki, near our next home in New Plymouth. We moved to Auckland City when I was 5 years old, but some 10 years later my mother, a school-teacher, took me on several Adult Education trips to Mt Taranaki, and the mountains of the central North Island. The tutors were all university specialists in aspects of natural history: geology, birds, entomology, and botany and made a great impression on a 15-year-old.  We learnt to recognise and name many vascular plants (no bryophytes yet). Botany degrees (B.Sc. and M.Sc.) at the University of Auckland followed. There I got to know my future husband, fellow botanist Ross Beever. In 1969 we travelled to England for PhDs at the University of Leeds.

The Spragg family had a bach (holiday home) built by my father in the forest of the Waitakere Ranges, where Ross and I began our married life and my fascination with mosses really began. Allison and Child’s Mosses of New Zealand beingon the book-shelf gave the impetus for my first attempt at keying out a moss. An auspicious choice—what could have been simpler—Catharomnion ciliatum – no other moss in our flora has a hairy margin!  Thanks to the generosity of Allan Fife, I was later asked to revise Mosses of New Zealand. Conferences early in my career, in Sydney, Australia (1981) and Tokyo, Japan (1983), together with a year in the U.K. (1980–81), gave opportunities to see mosses in foreign habitats and to cement friendships with many bryologists. Some of these folk have now died, and I treasure the memories, in particular with Ilma Stone (wonderful collaboration on Fissidens), with Tadashi Suzuki whose trip to New Zealand was a prize as “employee of the year” from his Japanese work-place (with minimal language in common, and much enthusiasm, we also shared Fissidens,he opening my eyes to the micro-Fissidens species), Zen Iwatsuki, who came to New Zealand with Janice Glime to study the mosses of our thermal areas, Eric Watson and Harold Whitehouse, each coming to a part of the world they had always wanted to visit for its bryophyte flora.

I have been a frequent participant in the annual John Child Bryophyte Workshops from their inception in 1983, and a member of the Department of Conservation’s expert panel on threatened bryophytes. Ross and I were long-time members of the Offshore Islands Research Group, whereby I was able to document the mosses of many of New Zealand’s northern offshore islands, sometimes with our two children along if permits allowed. In 1992 a monotypic, endemic moss genus, Beeveria, was named by Allan Fife.

At present I am a Research Associate of Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, working on the Flora of New Zealand: Mosses, my current project being the Pottiaceae.

Selected bibliography:

Beever, J.E. (1984). Moss epiphytes of tree-ferns in a warm temperate forest, New Zealand. Journal of the Hattori Botanical Laboratory 56: 89-95.

Beever, J.E. (1986). Mosses of the Poor Knights Islands, northern New Zealand.  Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 16(3): 259-273.

Jessica Beever, Allison, K.W. and John Child (1992) The Mosses of New Zealand   Otago University Press, Dunedin.  2nd edition. ISBN 0 908569 521, 224pp. Reissued as an e-book (2019) with a new Preface and Acknowledgements ISBN 9781988531724, 284 pp.

Beever, J.E. and Stone, I.G. (1992) Studies of Fissidens (Bryophyta:  Musci) in New Zealand:  F. taxifolius Hedw. and F. integerrimus Mitt. NZ Journal of Botany 30: 237-246.

Beever, J.E. and Gresson, J.E. (1995) Polytrichum commune Hedw. and Polytrichadelphus magellanicus (Hedw.) Mitt. used as decorative material on New Zealand Maori cloaks. Journal of Bryology 18: 819-823.

Beever, J.E., Fife, A.J. and West, C.J. (1996) Mosses of the Kermadec Islands, northern New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 34: 463-471.

Beever, J.E. (1999) Studies of Fissidens (Bryophyta: Musci) in New Zealand: a synopsis and key to taxa. New Zealand Journal of Botany 37: 659-670.

Beever, Jessica, Malcolm, Nancy and Malcolm, Bill (2002) ‘The moss genus Fissidens in New Zealand – an illustrated key. Te puninga Fissidens i Aotearoa’. Micro-Optics Press, Nelson. ISBN 0-9582224-6-0, 91pp.

Beever, J.E. and Malcolm, W.M. (2007) Mosses in “Natural History of Rangitoto Island, Hauraki Gulf, Auckland, New Zealand”, Mike D. Wilcox (ed.) Auckland Botanical Society Bulletin No. 27.

Fife, Allan. J., Glenny, David, Beever, Jessica E., Braggins, John E., Brownsey, P.J., Renner, Matthew A.M. & Hitchmough, Rod (2010) New Zealand’s threatened bryophytes: conservation efforts. Phytotaxa 9: 275-278.

Beever, J.E. (2014) Fissidentaceae. In: Heenan, P.B.; Breitwieser, I.; Wilton, A.D. Flora of New Zealand – Mosses. Fascicle 8. Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln.

de Lange, P.J. and Beever, J.E. (2015) A checklist of the mosses of the Kermadec Islands group. Bulletin of the Auckland Museum 20: 183–205.

Rolfe, J.R., Fife, A.J., Beever, J.E., Brownsey, P.J. and Hitchmough, R.A. (2016) Conservation status of New Zealand mosses 2014. New Zealand Threat Classification Series 13

Beever, J.E. and Fife, A.J. (2016) A new species of Didymodon (Pottiaceae, Bryophyta) and a key to New Zealand representatives of the genus. Phytotaxa 258: 279–286.

Beever, Jessica, Malcolm, Bill and Nancy (2018) The moss genus Fissidens in New Zealand. Micro-Optics Press, Nelson.

Beever, Jessica (2019) Mosses in “Hauturu – the history, flora and fauna of Te Hauturu-o-Toi Little Barrier Island” L. Wade and D. Veitch (eds), Massey University Press Auckland pp. 1–399.