(B.J. O'Shea & M.J. Wigginton)
The Guide to Bryophytes of sub-Saharan Africa (GBA) was planned as a book, to produce an African version of the Guide to Bryophytes of Tropical America (GBTA), which describes all the families and genera of the bryophytes known in the area. Although the American guide was able to get funding from the European Economic Community (EEC), we were unable to find any sponsors for an African guide, and this has affected us particularly in being able to illustrate all of the genera - not all botanists are also artists, although fortunately, some are.
Rather than just depending on two authors as for GBTA, we decided to follow a pattern we had found successful in getting African collections identified - allocating families to a number of experts, which we hoped would allow a fairly rapid production of text and illustrations: many hands make light work. Unfortunately not all hands work at the same speed, or have sufficient time available, and although the descriptions of some families were developed very quickly, others are yet to be produced. By early 2005 (after a start in 1999) we decided that a different and more dynamic approach was necessary, as although a number of families were still not available, others were already out of date. We thought that putting all the available data and illustrations on a website would make the information of completed families available but would also allow the content to be updateable and indeed to allow the versatility of the internet to link to data outside the scope of GBA, for instance to external relevant links, but also to species level data where it was available (click on SpeciesKey at the end of the genus treatment, if present). This would also make the content a free resource for those who might not be able to afford a printed book.
Progress on the project is managed on the Tropical Bryology Research site, but all the original treatments are held as pdf files on the GBA online site - there is a link at the end of each family treatment.
All illustrations are by the authors, unless stated otherwise.