Neil Bell


    Research areas

  • 118 Biological sciences - systematics, phylogenetics, bryology, muscology, taxonomy, genomics, Polytrichopsida, Polytrichaceae, Polytrichum, pleurcarps, pleurocarpy, Hypnodendrales, Hypnodendraceae, Rhizogoniaceae, austral

Description of research and teaching

I work on the phylogenetics of mosses (Bryophyta), reconstructing evolutionary relationships and relating these to molecular and morphological development, phytogeography and taxonomy. Phylogenetics, in common with disciplines such as paleontology, cosmology and much of geology, is a historical science and as such seeks to understand how past events occurred rather than to establish universal natural laws. Phylogenies, or robust hypotheses of historical evolutionary relationships, are prerequisites for understanding and predicting the distribution of traits in extant organisms, prioritising conservation measures and constructing natural taxonomies.

Mosses are the second most diverse major group of land plants after the flowering plants, with more species than ferns and conifers combined. They are among the most ancient of all land plant lineages and contain a number of fundamentally different general morphologies. Extant mosses play significant and under-appreciated roles as colonisers and as regulators of water flow through ecosystems as well as constituting a major global carbon sink.

My specific interests include the phylogeny of the class Polytrichopsida, phylogeny and character evolution in the earliest-diverging pleurocarpous lineages and the relationships of the major groups of peristomate mosses as revealed through chloroplast whole-genome sequencing.


Highlighted publications

  1. Epiphytism and generic endemism in the Hypnodendrales: Cyrtopodendron, Franciella and macro-morphological plasticity

    Bell, N. E., Newton, A. E. & Hyvönen, J., 2012, In : Taxon. 61, 3, p. 498-514 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

  2. Phylogeny of the moss class Polytrichopsida (BRYOPHYTA): Generic-level structure and incongruent gene trees

    Bell, N. & Hyvönen, J., 2010, In : Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 55, 2, p. 381-398 18 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


    Bell, N. & Hyvönen, J., 2010, In : American Journal of Botany. 97, 4, p. 566-578 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

  4. Taxonomy and phylogeny in the earliest diverging pleurocarps: square holes and bifurcating pegs

    Bell, N., Quandt, D., O'Brien, T. J. & Newton, A. E., 2007, In : The Bryologist . 110, 3, p. 533-560 28 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Highlighted activities

  1. Journal of Bryology (Journal)

    Neil Bell (Editor)

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

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