Species Profile

Macoun's Shining Moss

Scientific Name: Neomacounia nitida
Taxonomy Group: Mosses
Range: Ontario
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2002
Last COSEWIC Designation: Extinct
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status

Individuals of this species may be protected under Schedule 1 under another name; for more information see Schedule 1, the A-Z Species List, or if applicable, the Related Species table below.

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Quick Links: | Taxonomy | Photo | Description | Habitat | Biology | Reasons for extinction | Other Protection or Status | Documents

Image of Macoun's Shining Moss

Macoun's Shining Moss Photo 1



This species was originally described in 1869 as Forsstroemia nitida, but was placed in the genus Neomacounia in 1974, as the sole member. There is some controversy surrounding the genus and family membership of this species, but most recent sources accept Neomacounia as a member of the family Neckeraceae.



Macoun's Shining Moss was a relatively large moss with brownish-green, shiny stems that grew in loose tufts up to 6 cm long. It was an epiphytic moss: it lived attached to another plant, but obtained all the moisture and nutrients it required from the surrounding environment.


Distribution and Population

Macoun's Shining Moss is known globally from three Canadian collections reported to have been made near Belleville, Ontario between 1862 and 1864. The collector of at least two of the specimens, John Macoun, was known to have mislabeled other specimens, so there is some doubt as to the reliability of the location. No evidence for the existence of Macoun's Shining Moss has been documented since 1864, despite attempts to locate the species in 1972 and in 2001.



The three known specimens were collected from the base of elm, and possibly cedar, trees in swampy habitat. Related species are known to occur on trees and cliffs.



No known studies of living plants were made, so knowledge of the biology of this moss is limited to the information that can be learned from dried specimens in herbaria, and the label notes accompanying the specimens. Macoun’s Shining Moss had both sperm- and egg-producing organs on the same plant. Plants were therefore capable of self-fertilization, - eliminating the need for male and female plants to occur close to each other in order to produce spores and propagate new plants. It is suspected that microhabitat features important for Macoun’s Shining Moss would have included moisture, appropriate light conditions, favourable local water chemistry, and a continued supply of suitable substrates (including trees) to grow on.


Reasons for extinction

The land where the original population was located was cleared between 1864 and 1892, suggesting that habitat loss accounts for the elimination of the only known population.



Other Protection or Status

Macoun`s Shining Moss is listed as “extinct” by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) on the IUCN World Red List of Bryophytes.



PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

2 record(s) found.

Response Statements

  • Response Statements - Macoun's Shining Moss (2004)

    A response statement is a communications document that identifies how the Minister of the Environment intends to respond to the assessment of a wildlife species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The document provides a start to the listing and recovery process for those species identified as being at risk, and provides timelines for action to the extent possible.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2003 (2003)

    May 2003 Annual Report to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.