Mosses and other nonvascular plants have life cycles dominated by gametophytes. Nonvascular plants are represented by 3 phyla herbaceous (nonwoody) plants: liverworts(phylum Hepatophyta), mosses(phylum Bryophyta) and hornworts(phylum Anthocerophyta)Researchers believe that these 3 were the earliest lineage to have diverged from the common ancestor of land plants. Wind dispersal of lightweight spores has distributed mosses throughout the world. Some mosses colonize bare, sandy soil, where, researchers have found, they help retain nitrogen in the soil. Many mosses are able to live in very cold or dry habitats because they can survive the loss of most of their body water, then rehydrate when moisture is available.