||Desiccation tolerance in the sporophyte life stages of fern species Polypodium polypodioides and P. virginianum is well established. Sensitivity to desiccation is also well established in Onoclea sensibilis and Dryopteris intermedia . However, gametophyte life stage response to desiccation is not well known. In desiccation tolerant sporophytes, a number of mechanisms are responsible for survival during dehydration, including an increase in dehydrins. A systematic approach was used to uncover what biological systems are involved in desiccation tolerance or sensitivity in both the gametophyte and sporophyte life stages. This included examination of cell wall structure, biochemistry, membrane leakage, mobile water, absolute water content and expression of dehydrin proteins. Data suggest that within fern species, the gametophyte stage of the life cycle may be more desiccation tolerant than its sporophyte counterpart.