Ms Jo Wilbraham

J Wilbraham
  • Senior Curator, Algae
  • Life Sciences department
  • Genomics and Microbial Biodiversity Division
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road


Employment history

Natural History Museum, London, Department of Life Sciences

Senior Curator, Algae, Botanical Collections
August 2011 – present day

Curator of Algae, Botanical Collections
September 2008 – July 2011

Bryophyte Digitisation Post
November 2005 – August 2008

The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Herbarium
Digitisation Officer
November 2004 – October 2005


M.Sc. The Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants
The University of Edinburgh & The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
2003 – 2004

B.Sc. Ecology (Hons) 2:1
The University of Durham
2000 – 2003


Curatorial Responsibilities

As Curator of Algae I am responsible for the management and development of the Algal Collections.  At approximately 250,000 specimens this is one of the largest collections of its kind in the world.  The Algal Collections contain specimens from a diverse group of unrelated organisms including  the seaweeds, freshwater algae and even cyanobacterial collections.   


Major Projects

Seaweed Collections Online: mobilising data from national and regional museums (2012 - present) (Co-PI)

A project to gather, analyse and share collections data on UK seaweeds, with a focus on indicators of environmental change (funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund). 

Cryptogamic Herbarium re-development project (2011 - 2012) (Project Manager)

This project's main objectives were to improve storage and management of the department’s cryptogamic collections (e.g. ferns, mosses, algae, lichens) which comprises some 2 million specimens.

KE EMu Collections Management System (2009 - present)

I am part of a team managing the museum's collection database system KE EMu, with particular responsibility for botanical collections data.  



My research interests are focused on the taxonomy, biodiversity and conservation of algae and bryophytes.  

Main Research Areas


Biodiversity and conservation of UK marine algae

The NHM herbarium is particularly rich in marine algal collections from the United Kingdom, representing over 250 years of collecting. These specimens represent pieces of evidence that a species was present at a particular time and place.  As such the herbarium collections are a vital part of research into changes in the UK seaweed flora.  


2012-2013: Provisional Red Data List of Seaweeds of the British Isles. As no current Red Data List for seaweeds currently exists for the UK this projects aims to produce a provisional list applying IUCN criteria and identifying key areas where further work is needed, such as data deficient species (funding: John Spedan Lewis).

2012: Seaweed survey of the Outer Hebrides: To make seaweed surveys from sites around the islands verified by voucher specimens and establish  baseline data for future monitoring (funding: Crown Estate).

2011-2012: Capturing the aliens: Using herbarium specimens to track the arrival and spread of non-native seaweeds in the UK (funding support: Marine Biological Association).


Taxonomic research on the moss family Orthotrichaceae in sub-Saharan Africa

This project comprises a taxonomic revision of the moss family Orthotrichaceae in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands. The Orthotrichaceae is the fifth largest moss family in Africa, with c. 140 taxa in twelve genera.  These mosses can form a conspicuous element of tropical montane forests, usually growing as epiphytes on trees. Very little taxonomic research has so far been undertaken on the family across Africa and the complex genera Macromitrium and Schlotheimia in particular remain poorly resolved.  

This project involves: description of taxa and synonymy of superfluous names in order to generate an accurate picture of the familial diversity across Africa; resolution of nomenclatural and typification problems; publication of descriptive taxonomy to provide means for identification; molecular analysis (focused on the genus Macromitrium) to test monophyly of the group and investigate evolutionary relationships between species and allied genera.

Professional roles


2013 - present    Co-Editor of Field Bryology (Bulletin of the British Bryological Society)

    Field Bryology website

External committees

2013 - present    British Bryological Society - Council Member + Publications Committee

2010 - present   British Phycological Society - Biodiversity and Conservation Committee

2006 - present    British Bryological Society - Coordinator of Tropical Bryology Group

    BBS Tropical Bryology Group website

2008-2011        British Bryological Society - Council Member


  • J. Brodie; J. Wilbraham ( 2013 ) Seaweed survey of the Outer Hebrides, 2012. The Crown Estate, 89 pages. ISBN: 978-1-906410-43-8. . Report PDF
  • Wilbraham, J., Price, M.J. ( 2013 ) A lectotype for Macromitrium cirrosum (Hedw.) Brid. (Orthotrichaceae) Journal of Bryology 35 : 119-122 .
  • Brodie, J., Irvine, L.M., Pottas, J., Wilbraham, J. ( 2012 ) Capturing the aliens: Using herbarium specimens to track the arrival and spread of non-native seaweeds in the UK and Ireland. The Phycologist 82 : 31-32 .
  • Brodie, J.; Irvine, L.M.; Pottas, J.; Wilbraham, J. ( 2012 ) Capturing the aliens: Using herbarium specimens to track the arrival and spread of non-native seaweeds. Poster presentation at the British Phycological Society annual meeting, Newcastle University, January 2012 .
  • Ah-Peng, C., Bardat, J., Ellis, L., Malombe, I., Matcham, H., Pócs, T., Porley, R., Seneca, A., Söderstrom, L., Wilbraham, J.   ( 2010 ) Additions to the bryoflora of Réunion Island 3: new and interesting records from the Tropical Bryology Group (British Bryological Society).   Journal of Bryology 32 : 288-295 .
  • Wilbraham, J., Ellis, L. ( 2010 ) Further taxonomic studies on the families Calymperaceae (Musci) and Orthotrichaceae (Musci) in the bryoflora of Réunion Island, with notes on taxa from other islands in the western Indian Ocean Cryptogamie, Bryologie 31 : 31-66 .
  • Wilbraham, J., Matcham, H.   ( 2010 ) Zygodon oeneus Herzog (Bryophyta: Orthotrichaceae) new to Africa and Uganda.   Journal of Bryology 32 : 236-239 .
  • Wilbraham, J.; Brodie, J. ( 2010 ) Enhancing the herbarium: documenting the marine algal flora of NW Scotland. Poster presentation at the British Phycological Society annual meeting, Oban, January 2010 .
  • Wilbraham, J. ( 2009 ) Bryophytes & Volcanoes: La Réunion Island. Field Bryology 91 : 24-31 .
  • Ellis, L., Wilbraham, J. ( 2008 ) New synonymy in Macromitrium (Musci, Orthotrichaceae) and Syrrhopodon (Musci, Calymperaceae) in the bryoflora of Réunion Island. Cryptogamie, Bryologie 29 : 23–31 .
  • Wilbraham, J. ( 2008 ) Bryophyte Flora of Uganda. 8. Orthotrichaceae, Part 1. Macromitrioideae Journal of Bryology 30 : 201–207 .
  • Wilbraham, J. ( 2008 ) New synonymy and typification in African Schlotheimia (Musci: Orthotrichaceae) Journal of Bryology 30 : 196–200 .
  • Wilbraham, J. ( 2007 ) Orthotrichaceae, in Guide to Bryophytes of Sub-Saharan Africa . GBAonline
  • Wilbraham, J. ( 2007 ) Taxonomic notes on the pantropical genera Macromitrium and Macrocoma (Bryopsida: Orthotrichaceae) Journal of Bryology 29 : 54-59 .
  • Wilbraham, J., Long, DG. ( 2005 ) Zygodon Hook. & Taylor and Bryomaltaea Goffinet (Musci, Orthotrichaceae) in the Sino-Himalaya. Journal of Bryology 27 : 329–342 .