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Recording Matters 15

(Bulletin 71: 21-22 (July 1998))

There are a few updates to the Regional Recorders list since the last Bulletin. Andy McMullen, Tim Robinson and Elinor Wiltshire relinquish vice-counties 89, 38 and H8 respectively. We thank them for their efforts. It is always regrettable to lose Recorders, particularly those in Ireland! Andy McMullen will still be continuing with VC 96.

There are two changes of address to note:
15: Malcolm Watling, 23 Dane Hill, Margate, Kent, CT9 1QP.
46: Alan Hale, Northfield, Cliff Terrace, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 2DN.

This now leaves the following vice-counties unadopted: 37, 38, 39, 56, 71, 75, 85, 89, 90, 91, 93-95, 106, 107, 109, 112, and much of Ireland. 100 is also effectively vacant because I reported last time Katie Cocking's desire to resign, so anyone wishing to adopt this or any others please contact me.

Completed cards continue to drift into me, but not in a flood which would be nice to see. At least one member has brought it to my attention that since taking up the duties of a Regional Recorder (for vice-counties 69 & 92) he has never received any cards whatsoever. And this is despite the BBS holding a week's excursion around Ambleside in 1995 and around Braemar in 1996. For the scheme to run effectively members must try to submit records to the appropriate Recorders, particularly when the Recorders show so much enthusiasm to take on the post in the first place.

Many of you will now be in possession of computerised data for vice-counties held by BRC to whom I extend my thanks. I have had one or two queries about format and various anomalies but generally people have had no problems with reading the files. Since then others have requested data for their vice-counties and I hope to supply these in the near future.

Many of you will have heard of Biodiversity Action Plans. BAPs (more acronyms; nothing to do with your packed lunch!) have been drawn up on behalf of the UK Government following the 1991 Earth Summit in Rio. BAPs have, or are to be, drawn up for a range of threatened habitats, animals and plants in Britain, including bryophytes. Habitats of interest for bryophytes include native woodlands, such as Caledonian pinewoods, upland oakwoods, lowland beech and yew woods and wet woodlands.

For species, the aim is to produce a national programme of targeted actions, within specified time-frames, to halt the decline and preferably enhance the status of threatened taxa. Each Species Action Plan (SAP) will inevitably start at different points; for many of our bryophytes there is still the need to conduct basic survey and identify sites (an example here is Weissia multicapsularis); for others we are aware of the sites, and the challenge is to safeguard them (an example could be Thamnobryum angustifolium or Didymodon (Barbula) glaucus). There are 13 existing bryophyte SAPs, and a further 33 currently being written. Although each plan follows a national framework, it is often at the local level that such plans are implemented. For example, conservation organisations, local authorities or individuals in Norfolk may feel it more appropriate to instigate remedial management on certain fens where Hamatocaulis (Drepanocladus) vernicosus has been recorded in the past, and may even wish to consider translocation measures. In Wales on the other hand, more survey may be felt to be the priority. Whichever route is taken to achieve national targets, effort invariably rests at the local level and this means tapping into local expertise.

This is where I hope Regional Recorders can help. You may be approached by one of the statutory conservation agencies (e.g. English Nature) or other conservation organisations (e.g. a Wildlife Trust) to advise on the status of a particular species that falls within your patch. It is important that any plan has its foundations in good robust data, and we should be willing to provide information. Usually such requests are not too onerous, but if much effort is needed to provide the kind of information required, one can always negotiate terms!

I think it would be useful here to list the species for which action plans have been or are being written:

Published SAPs:
Buxbaumia viridis Thamnobryum angustifolium Lophozia rutheana
Didymodon glaucus Weissia multicapsularis Marsupella profunda
Ditrichum cornubicum Jamesoniella undulifolia Petalophyllum ralfsii
Hamatocaulis vernicosus Lejeunea mandonii
SAPs currently being written:
Acaulon triquetrum Didymodon tomaculosus Thamnobryum cataractarum
Andreaea frigida Ditrichum plumbicola Tortula freibergii
Bartramia stricta Ephemerum stellatum Trochobryum carniolicum
Brachythecium appleyardiae Leptodontium gemmascens Zygodon forsteri
Bryoerythrophyllum caledonicum Orthodontium gracile Zygodon gracilis
Bryum mammillatum Orthotrichum obtusifolium Acrobolbus wilsonii
Bryum neodamense Orthotrichum pallens Adelanthus lindenbergianus
Bryum warneum Pohlia scotica Cephaloziella nicholsonii
Cryphaea lamyana Rhynchostegium rotundifolium Herbertus borealis
Desmatodon cernuus Sematophyllum demissum Pallavicinia lyellii
Didymodon mamillosus Sphagnum balticum Riccia huebeneriana

It is recognised that some Recorders have more detailed knowledge of their vice-counties than others, but most should be able to contribute in a positive way to steering groups or other ad hoc bodies which may be established.

Ron Porley, English Nature, Foxhold House, Crookham Common, Thatcham, Berkshire, RG19 8EL.


Recording Matters 16

In the last Bulletin I wrote about bryophyte Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs). There is much expertise that members can contribute, and many already have, but co-ordination is essential to ensure that the diverse membership of the BBS is focused on the published targets. English Nature is exploring the feasibility of funding a co-ordinator post to ensure that the BBS (and other botanical Societies) can more effectively feed into the BAP process. As a prelude, some members may be consulted in order to develop a clear understanding of the issues that need to be considered if the BBS is to be effective in delivering conservation objectives.

In mid December we had a meeting with BRC, with JNCC also represented. The meeting was chaired by Giles Clarke. We had a broad-ranging and frank discussion about the roles and expectations from both ‘sides’. A positive outcome of the meeting was a commitment to formulate a Memorandum of Agreement, an approach that has already been developed between BRC and the BSBI. Data management is currently undergoing a renaissance, with the National Biodiversity Network promising to make exchange of data a much more straightforward process. This, however, is not likely to affect the BBS until a few years hence. In the meantime, an Agreement with BRC will help to provide members with some of the services we require. Initially we will need to know how many Regional Recorders possess their own PC, or have access to one, and the type of software used; to this end, BRC have agreed to produce a questionnaire to elicit relevant information. A number of Regional Recorders have received data sets from BRC; others have requested them and I am confident they will be available soon. If there are other Regional Recorders who would like data sets giving details for all the species occurring in a particular vice-county let me know by 30 April 1999 and I will co-ordinate; please do not contact BRC direct. Data will be supplied on standard diskettes.

One thing that I have been very aware of since holding the post of Recording Secretary is the enthusiasm shown by Regional Recorders and members in organising local recording initiatives. This is one of the great strengths of the BBS. There are many local groups who are doing valuable recording work and one of these is in VC 69, led by Keith Raistrick. With information supplied by BRC, Keith has produced 10 km square species lists as the basis for a proposed bryophyte flora of Cumbria. Armed with this he has galvanised several volunteers (but never enough!) into action and has even produced the first Westmorland bryophyte newsletter. I wish him every success. On this subject, I am always happy to hear from members about recording activities, and if you wish to put something on disk I can include it in Recording Matters in the future.


The last update to the Regional Recorder list was given in Bulletin 68, and several subsequent changes justify presenting it in full here.

David Holyoak takes over from Rose Murphy in VC 1 and 2, Paul King replaces Katie Cocking for VC 100, and Nick Hodgetts takes VC 104 from Martin Corley. I would like thank those who have relinquished vice-counties for their contributions, and to welcome the new Regional Recorders. If anyone spots any anomalies in the list please let me know - it is not easy keeping an up-to-date list, especially when the data are held on more than one PC! The following vice-counties are currently vacant: 37, 38, 39, 56, 71, 75, 76, 77, 78, 85, 89, 90, 91, 93, 94, 95, 106, 107, 108, 109 and 112. If any members are interested in adopting one or more of these vice-counties please let me know.

1,2: Dr D. Holyoak, 8 Edward Street, Tuckingmill, Camborne, Cornwall, TR14 8PA.

3,4: Mr M. Pool, 91 Warbro Road, Babbacombe, Torquay, Devon, TQ1 3PS.

5: Mr B. Gale, 6 Roker Way, Fair Oak, Eastleigh, Hampshire, SO50 7LD.

6,33,34: Mr P. Martin, Cutwell Cottage, 60 West Street, Tetbury, Gloucester, GL8 8DR.

7: R.D. Porley, English Nature, Foxhold House, Crookham Common, Thatcham, Berkshire, RG19 8EL.

8,11: Mr R.C. Stern, Botany Bay, Main Road, Fishbourne, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 8AX.

9: Dr M.O. Hill, Monks Wood Experimental Station, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon, PE17 2LS.

10: Mrs L. Snow, Ein Shemer, Upper Hyde Farm Road, Shanklin, Isle of Wight, PO37 7PS.

12: Mr A.C. Crundwell, Acorn Cottage, 12 Kay Crescent, Headley Down, Hampshire, GU35 8AH.

13,14: Mr H.W. Matcham, 21 Temple Bar, Strettington, nr. Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 0LB.

15: Mr M.C. Watling, 23 Dane Hill, Margate, Kent, CT9 1QP.

16: Mr E.R. Hurr, 6 The Woodlands, Chelsfield, Orpington, Kent, BR6 6HL.

17: Mr P.G. Adams, 5 Elm Cottages, Bytton Hill, Mickleham, Dorking, Surrey, RH5 6EL.

18,19,21: Dr K.J. Adams, 63 Wroths Path, Baldwins Hill, Loughton, Essex, IG10 1SH.

20: Mr G. Smith, 59 Tippett Court, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, SG1 1XR.

22: Dr J.W. Bates, Imperial College at Silwood Park, Ascot, Berkshire, SL5 7PY.

23: Mr G. Bloom, 15 Tatham Road, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 1QB.

24: Dr S.V. O’Leary, J.J. Thomson Physical Laboratory, PO Box 220, Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 2AF.

25,26: Mr R.J. Fisk, 35 Fair Close, Beccles, Suffolk, NR34 8LQ.

27,28: Mr R. Stevenson, 111 Wootton Road, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, PE30 4DJ.

29: Dr H.L.K. Whitehouse, Botany School, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3EA.

30: Mr A.R. Outen, 15 Manor Close, Clifton, Shefford, Bedfordshire, SG17 5EJ.

31,86-88,99,104: Mr N.G. Hodgetts, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Monkstone House, City Road, Peterborough, PE1 1JY.

32,60: Mr M.J. Wigginton, 36 Big Green, Warmington, Oundle, PE8 6TU.

35,41,44: A.R. Perry, Department of Biodiversity & Systematic Biology, National Museum & Gallery Cardiff, Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF1 3NP.

36: P.J. Port, Hollybush Cottage, Newton Lane, Kington, Hereford, HR5 3NG.

40: Mr R. Shoubridge, 8 Mary Elizabeth Road, Ludlow, Shropshire, SY8 1LW.

42,43,47: R.G. Woods, Countryside Council for Wales, 3rd Floor, The Gwalia, Ithon Road, Llandrindod Wells, Powys, LD1 6AA.

45: Dr P.M. Rhind, Countryside Council for Wales, Plas Penrhos, Ffordd Penrhos, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2LQ.

46: Mr A. Hale, Northfield, Cliff Terrace, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 2DN.

48-52: Marcus Yeo, Countryside Council for Wales, Plas Penrhos, Ffordd Penrhos, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2LQ.

53-54: Professor M.R.D. Seaward, School of Environmental Science, University of Bradford, Bradford, BD7 1DP.

55: D.W. Ballard, 84 Leicester Road, Groby, Leicester, LE6 0DN.

57,61,63-65: T.L. Blockeel, 9 Ashfurlong Close, Dore, Sheffield, S17 3NN.

58: A.V. Smith, 1 Carr Meadow Cottages, Glossop Road, Little Hayfield, via Stockport, Cheshire, SK12 5NR.

59: Mr J. Lowell, 37 Henley Avenue, Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, SK8 6DE.

62: Mr J.M. Blackburn, 6 Bylands Grove, Fairfield, Stockton on Tees, Cleveland, TS19 7BG.

66: Mr B.M. Humphreys, 10 Maple Crescent, Crook, County Durham, DL15 9LE.

67,68: Mr T.S. Wharton, c/o Ms J. McCutheon, 33 Ennerdale Drive, Watergate Estate, Crook, County Durham, DL15 8NT.

69,92: Mr K. Raistrick, 1 Drewton Avenue, Heysham, Lancashire, LA3 1NU.

70: F.J. Roberts, Eden Croft, Wetheral Pasture, Carlisle, Cumbria, CA4 8HU.

72-74: Dr C. Miles, Braeside, Boreland, Lockerbie, Dumfries, DG11 2LL.

79-80: R.W.M. Corner, Hawthorn Hill, 36 Wordsworth Street, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 7QZ.

81: D.G. Long, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, EH3 5LR.

82-84: Dr D.F. Chamberlain, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, EH3 5LR.

96: Mr J.A. McMullen, 5 Alder Road, Mansewood, Glasgow, G43 2UY.

97,98,105,108: G.P. Rothero, Stronlonag, Glenmassan, By Dunoon, Argyll, PA23 8RA.

100: Mr P. King, 13 Meadowside Gardens, Rushmere St Andrew, near Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 5RD.

101-103,110: M.F.V. Corley, Pucketty Farm Cottage, Faringdon, Oxfordshire, SN7 8JP.

111: Mrs. R. McCance, West End House, Burray, Orkney, KW17 2SS.

Channel Islands: C.D. Preston, Monks Wood Experimental Station, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon, PE17 2LS.


H36-40: Mr P. Hackney, Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens Belfast, Belfast, BT9 5AB.

Ron Porley, English Nature, Foxhold House, Crookham Common, Thatcham, Berkshire, RG19 8EL; e-mail:

Recording Matters 17

It is a year since Recording Matters 16 appeared in Bulletin 72, and there are a few changes to the Regional Recorders list:

27: John Mott, 62 Great Melton Road, Hethersett, Norwich, NR9 3HA.

37: Martin Godfrey, 11 Cordingley Close, Churchdown, Gloucestershire, GL3 2EN.

38: Johnny Turner, 1 Balliol Close, Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP12 4EQ.

76,77: Keith Watson, Science Dept, Glasgow Museum & Art Gallery, Kelvingrove, Glasgow, G3 8AG.

Many thanks to Robin Stevenson for all his past work on VC 27, but with the completion of his bryophyte flora in the recently published Norfolk Flora, he has decided (for a well-earned rest no doubt) to pass East Norfolk over to John Mott.

In the last Regional Recording list there was a mistake in one of the addresses; apologies to Howard and the correct entry should be:

13,14: Howard Matcham, 21 Temple Bar, Strettington, nr Chichester, W Sussex, PO18 0LB.

I would like to welcome the new Regional Recorders and wish them well in their new roles. This now leaves the following vice-counties in England and Scotland vacant: 39, 56, 71, 75, 78, 85, 89, 90, 91, 93, 94, 95, 106, 107, 109, 112. Apart from H36-40, Ireland is wide open. Keep those record cards coming into me; the Biological Records Centre (BRC) is busily engaged in adding your data to the national database.

During the latter half of 1999 there was welcome progress with supply of vice-county data from BRC. I would like to thank Chris Preston for arranging this. Most of those who responded to the announcement in Recording Matters 16 inviting requests for data, as well as a few others who had lodged requests earlier, now have their data. I can also supply Recorder Codes (so you know who made a particular record) for those who do not have them. It is anticipated that they will also soon be available on the Web. BRC is now actively developing a new system for data access (more below!), so any further requests for data in the short term will be put on hold.

In Bulletin 72 I reported on a meeting I had with BRC, and the decision to develop a Memorandum of Agreement with the BBS. This remains a possibility, but has somewhat been eclipsed by a more exciting proposal from BRC to include the bryophyte database (held at BRC) in a pilot project for the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) gateway. The NBN gateway is intended to provide access to the UK’s biodiversity data. It is essentially a web site that allows a user to search and retrieve metadata (data about data suppliers and datasets) and actual record data from BRC and other sources. There are a lot of details to be finalised but Jonathan Cooper of BRC is working on it; it should be operational by the end of January 2000 and a full demonstration version should be ready by March. Whether there will be one person within the BBS (such as the Recording Secretary) who has access to the gateway and who would then supply data to members, or whether all Recorders would have access, is an issue to be resolved; issues of security and access to sensitive data will also have to be considered. This promises to deliver tangible results, and the BBS is delighted to be part of the pilot project.

Ron Porley, English Nature, Foxhold House, Crookham Common, Thatcham, Berkshire, RG19 8EL; e-mail:


Recording Matters 18

Ron Shoubridge, Regional Recorder for VC 40, has informed me that he wishes to 'step aside', and thus we are looking for a replacement to take on the green and pleasant county of Shropshire. If anyone in the area (or indeed outside the county) is interested in becoming Recorder for VC 40 do let me know. I would like to thank Ron for all the work he has done over the years, and especially for sending me so many record cards!

The latest news on the BBS-BRC data access project is that in March I attended a meeting at Monks Wood to see a demonstration of the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) gateway project, in which bryophyte data are being used in the initial trial. However, the dataset used for the demonstration was Odonata, as the bryophyte dataset was not quite up and running at the time. Still, there was an opportunity for feedback, and Tom Blockeel and I emphasised what the Society would like to see in terms of data access and exchange. The web site address for the project is and although the last time I went on line dragonflies were the only dataset available, at least it will give an idea of what to expect for bryophytes. Access to datasets and data exchange are in the development phase and are very much within the spirit of the NBN project. We look forward with anticipation to progress very soon.

Request for bryophyte records from Suffolk

Members are always interested to hear of exciting recording projects on the go, even if they are accompanied by a plea for help! Many of you will know that Richard Fisk is working hard towards a bryophyte flora of Suffolk, and he asked if the following could slot into Recording Matters.

The Suffolk Naturalists Society has decided to publish a new Atlas Flora of Suffolk, which will probably be in a similar format to the recently published Flora of Norfolk, and will include bryophytes. Recording is based on tetrads and will focus on records since 1980, with a target date for publication of 2005. There has never been a bryophyte flora of Suffolk, and the last account was a list by Arthur Mayfield published in the Journal of the Ipswich and District Natural History Society in 1930.

Coverage of the county is still very patchy, and localised records of bryophytes from any part, but particularly West Suffolk (VC 26) would be very welcome. Also, if anyone attended the 1981 BBS Spring meeting at Stowmarket, and has any records or notes, these would be much appreciated. Records from that meeting were logged onto cards on a 10-km square basis, and many cards include records from more than one site. Unfortunately, these records cannot be used since it is not possible to allocate them to tetrads. Following the publication of the new Census Catalogue, I have produced a revised checklist of Suffolk bryophytes. If any member is interested I will supply a copy.

Richard Fisk, 1 Paradise Row, Ringsfield, Beccles, Suffolk, NR34 8LQ.

Ron Porley, English Nature, Foxhold House, Crookham Common, Thatcham, Berkshire, RG19 8EL; e-mail:


Recording Matters 19

There are a few updates to the Regional Recorders vice-county list:

39: Martin Godfrey, 6 Darnford Close, Parkside, Stafford, ST16 1LR.

40: Mark Lawley, 12A Castleview Terrace, Ludlow, SY8 2NG.

78: David Long, Royal Botanic Garden, Inverleith Row, Edinburgh, EH3 5LR.

94, 95: Andy Amphlett, 72 Strathspey Drive, Grantown on Spey, Moray, PH26 3EY.

I hope all find their Regional Recorder role interesting, and I look forward to receiving stacks of completed record cards before too long!

National Biodiversity Network (NBN)

I reported briefly on the progress of the NBN Gateway project in Bulletin 75, explaining that the bryophyte database was one of the first to be trialed. Now it is up and running and is quite impressive! You can access it on For security reasons there are various levels of access. Everybody, including the public, can access species information and distribution maps, but site-based details, which are accessed via an interactive map, are potentially sensitive and are therefore restricted to certain users. Regional Recorders will be given the option of access to this information, and will require a password. Instructions are given on the web page when you attempt to enter the restricted zone. Chris Preston has kindly agreed to take on the role of administrator, essentially to facilitate members’ access to the Gateway. Therefore, if you are a Regional Recorder, and would like access, contact Chris (e-mail: I envisage that all BBS members will eventually have access, but contact me first (by e-mail) to avoid deluging Chris. We don’t have a clear idea of how many BBS members may be excluded by the rapidly moving technology, and this could be a serious issue that the BBS will need to consider. That apart, there has been a lot of effort put into making the NBN project work, and it is revolutionising the relationship between the BBS and the Biological Records Centre. I am in contact with the project managers and we are looking at ways of further enhancing the service to members of the BBS.

BBS arable bryophyte survey

It would appear that our arable bryophyte flora is in decline, and indeed a few species (Didymodon tomaculosus, Ephemerum stellatum and Weissia multicapsularis) are listed on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan as requiring urgent action (usually involving survey to establish the current status of the plant). During research for a paper I presented at the Arable Plant Conference held at Cambridge in July 2000, it became apparent that there remain many gaps in our knowledge. A few members are actively recording arable fields in connection with local floras, but national coverage is very patchy indeed. Against this background I tabled a proposal at the Spring Council meeting, and also to the new combined Conservation and Recording Committee, suggesting a BBS arable bryophyte survey, with the intention of initiating the work in the autumn of 2001 and continuing for three years. Council gave the proposal their full support and gave me the go-ahead to organise it. The new Cryptogam Biodiversity Officer at the British Museum (Natural History), Gill Stevens, will probably be involved in a liaison role with members who express an interest; without such help I would probably buckle under the workload!

We have explored three options for the arable bryophyte survey:

  1. We are fortunate that in the mid-1970’s Trudy Side undertook an arable bryophyte survey of some 30 fields in Kent, and published a paper in the Transactions of the Kent Field Club (1977, 6: 63-70). The field notes, which are hopefully accompanied by maps and grid references, were deposited with Maidstone Museum. Potentially, this gives us an excellent opportunity of repeating the work, and thus generating some hard data on what is happening to the arable bryoflora in Kent. Of course, many of the fields may no longer be extant, but that too is valuable information in itself. This would make a neat project, and I have raised it with Malcolm Watling of the South East Group, as this would best be tackled by local members. The one big uncertainty at the moment is whether Maidstone Museum can trace the archival material. Malcolm is currently trying to resolve this.
  2. BBS members could contribute to a nation-wide survey of arable fields. I don’t want to be too prescriptive about this, as long as we look at a large enough sample of fields with a good geographical coverage, and record what is out there. Within a county or region we may find that arable fields supporting a typical assemblage of arable bryophytes are very elusive, but if, for example, we have to visit 20 arable fields before finding anything of interest this would be telling us something! We have very little information on the value of various crops and virtually nothing on organic systems. To provide one example, Richard Fisk and I visited an asparagus field in Suffolk which supported Sphaerocarpos michelii and a range of other typical arable species; this is just the sort of information we need, particularly in the statutory conservation agencies, to influence agri-environment schemes and agricultural policy. The intention is to produce a customised recording card to ensure appropriate information is gathered, such as management, crop type, soil type and so on. This is not a rigorously designed, statistically robust survey, but should provide qualitative data on what occurs under various crop regimes in different parts of the country. It is envisaged, however, that if fields are accurately mapped (very important!), such work can be repeated in the future to track trends.
  3. In order to generate data that could be interpreted statistically, a sample transect across England has been suggested, rather like Jeff Bate’s epiphyte survey of 1997. However, arable fields have such a scattered distribution that there is a high chance that very little information would result from such an approach, and it would only be indicative of a small part of Britain. Crop types and agricultural practices vary across the country, and it would be difficult to decide where a transect should be. There are also problems with deployment of volunteers in areas of the country where bryologists are thin on the ground.

The general consensus is that options 1 and 2 provide the best approach, and therefore they will be run in parallel over three years, beginning in autumn 2001. Depending on the success of the present project, more detailed work may follow. This is an excellent opportunity for the BBS to contribute to a better understanding of our arable bryoflora which will have significant implications for conservation. Over the next few months I will work up the survey methods and keep all informed. At this stage, however, I would like to gauge the level of interest. Would you like to do some survey of arable fields within your patch - as much or as little as you want? I would be particularly keen to hear from you if you are aware of any organic arable fields, or ‘minor’ crops, or the increasingly rare stubble fields. Please let me know, by e-mail, phone or post whether you would like to participate in this exciting project. Any general comments on the proposed arable bryophyte survey are also welcomed.

Sampling arable bryophytes

Still very much on the subject of arable bryophytes, Richard Fisk would like to share with members his method of sampling arable fields.


  • Collecting tin (tobacco tin 11 cm x 8 cm x 2.5 cm or similar)
  • Plastic sieve (15 cm diameter with mesh of 1-1.5 mm, e.g. a flour sieve)
  • Plastic container (e.g. 2 litre ice cream container)
  • Jam jar or similar with screw-top lid

At the collecting site fill tin with sample of bryophytes. Avoid too much soil and discard large tufts of Barbula unguiculata and Tortula acaulon - select more interesting tufts of Bryum and Dicranella.

As soon as convenient on returning home, empty soil sample into sieve and suspend in container filled with water. Leave to soak for a short while so that soil softens (this can take up to two hours if soil is hard or of sticky clay). Then gently break up soil by squeezing between fingers, and soil particles will fall through the sieve. This will need to be repeated two or three times with clean water (this step can be carried out under running water but it is a bit messy).

When sample is reasonably clean, squeeze out excess water and transfer to jam jar filled two-thirds with water, screw on lid firmly and shake for a minute. Tip sample into sieve, refill jam jar and repeat until water remains fairly clear. It will probably be cloudy but not muddy.

You will now have a wad of bryophyte material about the size of a walnut. Take a small piece (about 5-8 mm diameter) from this, place in petri dish of water, and agitate to disperse individual plants and examine under stereo binocular dissecting microscope. Repeat until all of sample is examined. Plants will be thoroughly mixed by this method and most species present will be seen in the first sample, but it is worth examining all of the wad because single stems of some species, such as Ephemerum serratum, may be found which were not observed in the field.

Ron Porley, English Nature, Foxhold House, Crookham Common, Thatcham, Berkshire, RG19 8EL; e-mail:


Recording Matters 20

There are a number of changes to the network of Regional Recorders:

12: Fred Rumsey, Department of Botany, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD.
17: Derek Hill, Gwynfryn, Colley Way, Reigate, Surrey, RH2 9JH.
35: Sam Bosanquet, Dingestow Court, Monmouth, Monmouthshire, NP25 4DY.
44: Graham Motley, Countryside Council for Wales, Cantref Court, Brecon Road, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, NP7 7AX.

A warm welcome to the incoming Regional Recorders, and many thanks to Roy Perry who has passed on Monmouthshire and Carmarthenshire but continues to cover Glamorgan. There has been one resignation: Martin Godfrey, VC 39, reluctantly resigns due to work pressures - many thanks to him. Jeremy Roberts wishes to pass on VC 70, again due to commitments elsewhere, and therefore is looking for someone to take on Cumberland. His contribution is much appreciated, and he would like to see someone replace him rather than leave the county without a contact. Alan Crundwell’s recent death left VC 12 without a Recorder, but Fred has kindly (if not bravely) agreed to take over, and the late Harold Whitehouse, who contributed a lifetime’s work to Cambridgeshire, also passed away in 2000, leaving VC 29 vacant. Both these giants of bryology have done so much for recording in Britain and overseas and were devoted field bryologists in every sense of the word; their achievements will live on. If anyone would like to take on VCs 29, 39 or 70, please let me know.

The remainder of Recording Matters 20 will deal with the proposed arable bryophyte survey, introduced in the previous Bulletin.

Editorial note - click here to visit the SBAL site which includes the text of Ron Porley's article 'Bryophytes of arable fields: current state of knowledge and conservation'. This appeared in Bulletin of the British Bryological Society 77 (2001): 50-62, based on a talk given at the arable plant conference Fields of vision, held in Cambridge in 1999.

National and regional arable bryophyte survey

The purpose of the survey is to address the paucity of knowledge of the bryophyte flora of arable land in the British Isles.

The success or otherwise of this project depends largely on how many members participate and how many fields we can cover. Initially, we will be running a pilot survey, aiming to cover the arable-dominated areas of eastern Britain and selected areas elsewhere in the country. Therefore we will be looking for fewer participants in the first year, but will need volunteers who are willing to ‘trial’ methodologies. We are aiming to develop a systematic approach which will achieve a level of objectivity enabling analysis of the data.

The Society has many enthusiastic field bryologists, so we should be able to achieve excellent coverage in the second to fourth years when the project is fully rolled out. Hopefully, local recording groups will consider putting arable fields in their meeting itineraries, and during national excursions I hope there will be an opportunity to visit arable fields. It is appreciated that arable fields are not the first choice of habitat to survey for many recorders, but this is precisely the reason why this survey is needed. Knowledge to date is based on the efforts of a few, dedicated individuals, and the vast majority of the country is unknown as regards its arable bryophytes. This project is therefore going to be fun too - who knows what we will turn up!

An important element of the selective national survey is to survey minor crops, so if you live in or know of an area that is, for example, devoted to a root crop, or a market garden crop such as asparagus, please have a look at those fields. For most crop types we don’t have any data whatsoever on the bryophytes they support. I am also keen that we get good geographical coverage of organic fields. We hope to find previously unknown ‘good’ fields as a result of the survey, so don’t restrict yourselves to fields you already know to have high bryophyte interest (but by all means do include them). It is also vital that we record all arable fields visited even if they support no bryological interest. Therefore, if you have to look at 20 arable fields before you find anything of interest, make a record of this. The farmed landscape is dynamic, and what is a good field today may not be so in five years time. More extensive recording may help us to understand such changes, and answer such questions as should we be trying to protect individual fields or should we be advocating low-input sustainable agriculture over large areas - or a combination of both? Hopefully, by the autumn, access restrictions due to the current foot and mouth outbreak will have eased. Make every attempt to contact the farmer to gain survey permission and explain the purpose of the survey. I will be contacting various people in the newly formed Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and other agricultural organisations to make them aware that such a project is to take place.

The national survey will run for four years, commencing with a pilot in autumn 2001. The pilot survey will highlight any problems in methodology. In brief, the following approach is proposed; the methodology given here is only an outline - we are developing detailed protocols/methodologies at the moment which will be distributed in the survey pack.

1. Repeat of a survey carried out in Kent in the 1970s by Trudy Side. Since this is a local project it is envisaged that the South-East Group will co-ordinate it, but other members are quite welcome to participate; just let Gill Stevens, the Group Leader (Roy Hurr or Malcolm Watling), or me know so we can co-ordinate the work. Having a 25-year-old dataset gives us a unique opportunity to look at changes in the arable bryophyte flora of Kent. Since we will be working to a past methodology this survey can begin in autumn 2001; the original was completed within two seasons.

2. Systematic national survey. Year 1 will consist of a pilot survey. Based on satellite imagery we have a good guide as to where arable land is concentrated in Britain. It is anticipated that in the first year an enthusiastic band of potato-bryologists will join up! Using satellite imagery as the basis, we will work within 100-km squares, and ask recorders to select four 10-km squares within these areas which as far as possible cover various soil types/geology. The recorder/s will then select a tetrad (either G, R, I or T) in each 10-km square, and within this tetrad survey four arable fields. This gives a total of 16 arable fields per 100-km square. Soil samples will also be collected, and labelled packets of soil can be sent to a central point for pH determination. In years 2 to 4 we hope many more people, using a refined methodology, will then get involved.

3. Selective national survey. The above systematic survey is the minimum requirement, but in addition to this each recorder has the freedom to record any other arable fields they wish; the fields may be in their own ‘patch’ or in other areas of the country - but please ensure the Regional Recorder gets the information, and ideally make contact before your visit to avoid duplication (although two people surveying the same field at different times may produce interesting results). It is envisaged that this part of the project will target minor crops, organic fields and good stubble fields which were not picked up in the systematic survey.

Before the autumn I will produce ‘survey-packs’ which will be distributed to those who will be involved with the pilot survey and any others who have expressed an interest in the project. The pack will include custom-designed arable bryophyte recording cards for piloting, detailed guidance on methodologies, and a ‘crib-sheet’ to give some pointers with identification. We also intend to hold an arable bryophyte workshop in late autumn 2002 to evaluate the pilot survey which will act as a springboard for the launch of the full survey.

At the end of the four-year project we hope to have a much better understanding of the status of arable bryophytes in Britain, in terms of distribution, and association with various crop types, soil types and management regimes. Without this basic information we will be much less effective when trying to influence conservation policy. Finally, assuming accurate location details are recorded, we will have the option of returning to the same fields in the future as part of a surveillance programme.

Gill Stevens, the Cryptogam Biodiversity Officer at the Natural History Museum, will also be fulfilling an invaluable liaison role by keeping members in touch with progress and generally offering encouragement and support. Please can people let me or Gill know if you are interested in taking part in the BBS arable bryophyte survey. I had some enthusiastic responses to my article in the last Bulletin, but in particular would like to hear from those in eastern Britain (from Lossiemouth southwards!) who would like to be involved in the pilot survey. We may well be taking it upon ourselves to approach some of the more active field bryologists so be prepared! Gill can be contacted at the Natural History Museum, Dept of Botany, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD, e-mail, tel. 020 7942 5894. We have set up a small committee, consisting of Chris Preston, Mark Hill and myself, to consider the methodological aspects of the project.

Ron Porley, English Nature, Foxhold House, Crookham Common, Thatcham, RG19 8EL; e-mail:


Recording Matters 21

Regional Recorders

There are two amendments to the Regional Recorders list:

29: Chris Preston, CEH, Monks Wood, Abbotts Ripton, Hunts, PE17 2LS.

70: Keith Raistrick, 1 Drewton Avenue, Heysham, Lancashire, LA3 1NU.

Keith already covers Westmorland and South Aberdeenshire, and we welcome him taking on the bryologically rich county of Cumberland. There are now 13 vice-counties in Britain without a Regional Recorder (39, 56, 71, 75, 85, 89, 90, 91, 93, 106, 107, 109, 112), and most of Ireland is also without (except H36-40). If you are interested in adopting any of these counties, please contact me.

National and regional arable bryophyte survey

In Bulletin 77 I set out the background to this exciting BBS recording project. A small committee (Mark Hill, Chris Preston, Gill Stevens and myself) has been busy behind the scenes refining the methodology, and so far we have had two meetings to explore the issues. The project will comprise several linked survey elements.

1. Repeat of a survey carried out in Kent in the 1970s by Trudy Side. The good news is that Gill Stevens has managed to track down the archived data of the original survey, but somewhat disappointingly, the exact fields that Trudy Side surveyed are not identified. On reflection, however, this is not a problem, since we do have tetrad data, and thus we can visit arable fields within specific tetrads for a comparison. The South-East Group are keen to take on this project, and in October 2001 they organised a day out to look at arable fields (see pp 37-38 of this Bulletin). I will be preparing detailed guidance on methodology, and providing arable recording forms that will be consistent with the national survey. We can then get the Kent survey up and running.

2. Systematic national pilot survey. In November, Mark, Chris, Gill, myself and other willing volunteers tested our methodology on a few arable fields in Cambridgeshire. This enabled us to identify any problems with the methodology and to refine the arable recording card. It went very well, with the bonus of finding two fields with the BAP priority moss Weissia rostellata, and also Fissidens taxifolius with tubers. The pilot survey will focus on three 100-km squares (SP, TL and SU), and willing recorders have already been identified. We will assess the pilot during the summer of 2002, and if necessary make amendments to the methodology in readiness to begin the full systematic survey in autumn 2002.

3. Full systematic national survey. This will begin in the autumn of 2002 and we will be looking for as many participants as possible to make it a success. The methodology has been refined in that we have now selected 22 100-km squares that contain more than 15% arable land (as defined by the 1990 Countryside Survey), from which tetrads have been selected (randomly but subject to the restriction that only one tetrad can be selected from a given 10-km square) that contain 50% or more arable land. The number of tetrads selected in each 100-km square is in proportion to land area (not simply arable area) so that 100-km squares with little land area are not over-sampled. In effect, there are a maximum of seven tetrads in any 100-km square; squares which are predominantly sea, such as SY and NK, have only one tetrad selected. A co-ordinator for each 100-km square will be sent a list of the tetrads that need to be visited, and four arable fields should be surveyed within each tetrad. If there is no arable land within the tetrad, the nearest arable fields to that tetrad should be surveyed. Such an approach is designed to provide a reasonable coverage of the country and statistically robust data that can be analysed in a number of ways; the survey will also be repeatable in the future. Completed recording cards are to be sent to me (Ron Porley).

4. Selective national survey. This is the part of the survey where participants can choose which arable fields they survey, provided that they do not duplicate those recorded in the systematic survey, or those that might be done by other participants working in the same area. It is important that we gather qualitative data on organic fields and a variety of crop types, so although surveyors should record any stubble fields which are suspected to hold a good bryophyte flora, they should not focus on them to the exclusion of other arable fields. A recording card should be filled in for all fields visited, including those that have few or virtually no bryophytes; if a field margin, stubble field or area of set-aside is poor, we need to know this. If 20 fields are visited before encountering just one that supports some bryophyte interest, then this kind of information is important, and a recording card should be completed.

All the elements of the survey will include determinations of soil pH. We are still investigating the best approach, and may seek funding to procure a limited number of small pH meters that can be used in the field. It is envisaged that other participants will collect soil samples in poly bags and send them to a central point (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology). We are currently taking advice from soil scientists.

A field pack will be sent to recorders as a targeted mail-shot. It will contain full details of methodology and guidance notes on completing the dedicated arable bryophyte recording card. Production of a ‘crib-sheet’ is progressing well, with pictures of selected species, tubers, etc. and accompanying text. Jonathan Sleath has been heavily involved in this, and once we have finalised its contents Gill will produce a professional version at the British Museum. Gill will also look into setting up a web site to keep everyone informed of progress during the course of the project. There will be an arable bryophyte workshop in November 2002, at Preston Montford (see pp 41-42 of this Bulletin), at which we will review the results of the trial, and have sessions on methodology and species identification. We hope to invite some European arable bryologists to learn from their experiences.

A provisional timetable for the various survey elements is given below:

  • winter 2001/2002: pilot systematic survey focussing on three 100-km squares
  • spring/summer 2002: assess pilot and modify methodology if appropriate
  • November 2002: arable bryophyte workshop
  • autumn/winter 2002/2003: launch national systematic and selective surveys
  • 2003 - spring 2005: continue surveys
  • December 2005: write up results of surveys and submit for publication

The repeat of Trudy Side’s survey of arable bryophytes in Kent will commence as soon as recording cards are available and the methodology has been finalised, and should run for two seasons to be consistent with the original survey. The results will constitute a separate publication.

Ron Porley, English Nature, Foxhold House, Crookham Common, Thatcham, RG19 8EL; e-mail:


Recording Matters 22

Regional Recorders

There are a few amendments to the Regional Recorders list. I am delighted to welcome two new recruits:

37: Lorna Fraser, 26 Hinton Avenue, Alvechurch, Birmingham, B48 7LY.

39: John Smith, 2 Park Lane Avenue, Madeley, Telford, Shropshire, TF7 5HQ.

There are two changes of address:

31, 86-88, 99, 104: Nick Hodgetts, 55 Norton Street, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG31 6BX.

36: John Port, 7 Coronation Road, Kington, Herefordshire, HR5 3BU.

Please also note that the postcode of CEH, Monks Wood (Mark Hill (9) and Chris Preston (29) is now PE28 2LS.

Please keep sending me completed record cards so that we can keep the national database up to date. If you do any recording in the patch of another Regional Recorder, send a copy of the card to that person, otherwise they will be unaware of the records. Normally, it is the Regional Recorder who would then send completed cards to me so that they can be incorporated in the national database. This only has to be done once or twice a year so it shouldn’t be too onerous. There is also the option of providing your data in electronic form, such as an Excel spreadsheet, with columns (fields) for species name, grid reference, date and other information. However, please check with Chris Preston at CEH to confirm appropriate fields for your data before submitting records in electronic form.

Our recording effort would be much more useful if it was done on a site basis; recording in 10-km squares is fine for mapping, but is of little use when trying to establish what species occur within named sites - crucial if we are to defend sites from inappropriate development or loss. So please use names as they appear on 1:50,000 or 1:25,000 OS maps, and give a 6-figure grid reference (ideally by GPS) that is approximately in the centre of the site. A grid reference range is also acceptable if the site is particularly large or straddles 10-km squares. Finally, when filling in a record card do not score through the species code numbers, as it obscures the numbers, makes life difficult for the data operators, and could lead to errors.

BBS special recording project: arable bryophyte survey

GM map - arable field survey

The pilot phase of the arable bryophyte survey was completed in spring this year, and went very well. We will consider any amendments to the methodology ready for the launch of the national project in autumn 2002. A bonus so far is the discovery of some good populations of the Biodiversity Action Plan priority species Weissia rostellata in Devon and Cambridge. This moss may be more common in arable fields (as opposed to reservoir margins and damp soil in other situations) than previously thought; well-developed sporophytes are needed for a positive identification. We looked at some arable fields during the BBS Isle of Wight excursion in March, and investigated an interesting organic field which had three Riccia species. We also re-found Chenia leptophylla on arable field margins at Brook, the original site where it was found, new to Britain, in 1964. At that time it was thought to be an undescribed species, hence its former name Tortula vectensis (which was later made a synonym of T. rhizophylla). This is the only known extant station for the species in Britain, as it appears to have been lost from the Isles of Scilly and the Lizard Peninsula. However, the Brook population is clearly testimony to its persistence, and the plant could turn up more or less anywhere.

Figure 1. Map of Great Britain, showing 10-km squares in which survey tetrads are located

Table 1. Tetrads selected for survey within each 100-km square

100-km square Tetrad Arable land (% of tetrad) 100-km square Tetrad Arable land (% of tetrad) 100-km square Tetrad Arable land (% of tetrad) 100-km square Tetrad Arable land (% of tetrad)
30 SY88B 56 36 NT74Y 78 42 SP65G 51 51 TQ87I 67
31 ST12I 61 36 NT83D 74 42 SP94E 79 51 TQ88Z 52
31 ST31S 54 36 NT93M 65 42 SP97H 92 51 TQ92R 79
31 ST32A 52 37 NO13U 59 43 SK47Y 57 51 TQ95C 62
31 ST41C 52 37 NO30B 72 43 SK59I 70 51 TQ97V 53
31 ST53F 54 37 NO64N 88 43 SK63K 56 52 TL39Z 90
31 ST86B 52 37 NO67X 68 43 SK71B 50 52 TL47B 74
31 ST90U 54 37 NO76P 57 43 SK73P 60 52 TL57D 73
32 SO43Q 56 38 NJ74H 53 43 SK75M 54 52 TL74W 82
32 SO64V 54 38 NJ75L 58 43 SK94V 73 52 TL84F 74
32 SO84Z 51 38 NJ76F 50 44 SE40U 55 52 TL86V 74
32 SO87S 56 38 NJ82L 60 44 SE44G 59 52 TL95U 82
32 SO90F 74 38 NJ83V 64 44 SE56W 76 53 TF03T 62
32 SO94V 64 40 SZ38Y 74 44 SE64K 68 53 TF07Z 69
32 SO95F 53 41 SU02R 76 44 SE71X 89 53 TF38Z 63
33 SJ50J 53 41 SU25P 51 44 SE85N 73 53 TF41B 88
33 SJ51Z 63 41 SU27M 62 44 SE91H 79 53 TF90Q 67
33 SJ59W 63 41 SU54M 51 45 NZ11L 67 54 TA01T 86
33 SJ69B 52 41 SU55Y 50 45 NZ31G 73 54 TA06E 77
33 SJ70V 60 41 SU66V 53 45 NZ40Z 67 61 TR02H 76
33 SJ71V 53 41 SU71H 64 45 NZ42N 66 62 TM06K 61
33 SJ81M 52 42 SP03M 64 46 NU02E 56 62 TM08A 63
36 NT29X 55 42 SP32G 56 48 NK04C 57 62 TM17N 58
36 NT57Q 88 42 SP44U 64 51 TQ68G 69 63 TG13G 72
36 NT67E 76 42 SP46I 51 51 TQ69I 57 63 TG41R 71

I am keen to hear from members who would like to participate in either the systematic or selective (or both) elements of the arable bryophyte survey (outlined in Bulletin 78: 50-52). Many members have already committed themselves to participating, but if this ground-breaking BBS project is to be truly a success we need as many volunteers as possible. The survey pack (customised recording cards and identification guidance featuring colour pictures of tubers to take away the worry and stress of those little Bryums) is nearing completion, and will be available for the autumn 2002 season. Table 1 lists the random tetrads selected within 100-km squares containing at least 15% arable land, and Figure 1 shows the locations of 10-km squares in which survey tetrads are located. If you are one of the lucky ones that live fairly near a tetrad then you do not want to miss out on this exciting project. The survey will be launched on 16-17 November 2002 at a workshop held at Preston Montford Field Centre (see pp 18-19 of this Bulletin), and we hope to have a guest speaker from Europe who will inspire us all about arable bryophytes. There will be plenty of British experts on hand too, so do let me know if you would like to attend.

Ron Porley, English Nature, Foxhold House, Crookham Common, Thatcham, RG19 8EL; e-mail:




Recording Matters 23

Regional Recorders

There are three amendments to the list of Regional Recorders:

16: Jan Hendey, 30 Willet Close, Petts Wood, Kent, BR5 1QH

23: Jacqueline Wright, 15 Blenheim Way, Horspath, Oxford, OX33 15B

48-52: Tim Blackstock, Countryside Council for Wales, Plas Penrhos, Ffordd Penrhos, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2LQ.

Jan takes over from Roy Hurr (and has done so for a little while), so thanks to Roy who nevertheless continues with bryological activities in Kent. George Bloom has been acting as Recorder for Oxfordshire since the inception of the Recorder network, so special thanks to George who feels it is now time to pass his role onto someone a bit younger. Tim Blackstock takes over the north Wales vice-counties from Marcus Yeo.

In addition, Chris Preston has resigned as Regional Recorder for the Channel Islands.

Completed record cards have been trickling in to me over the past six months - please keep them coming. It is possible to send records electronically, and Chris Preston can give details of how to do this if you are interested.

Survey of Bryophytes of Arable Land (SBAL)

The workshop we held at Preston Montford on 16-17 November 2002 to launch this three-year project was a great success, and the participants went away enthused and geared-up to tackle arable fields in their own patch. Mark Hill has produced a more detailed report of the workshop (see pp 27-29 of this Bulletin), so I will only say that, as a result of our field visit on Sunday to some stubble fields just outside Shrewsbury, we found the BAP priority moss Didymodon tomaculosus, new to Shropshire. This just shows what is still awaiting discovery in arable fields - there is so much potential! I am indebted to Gill Stevens, Jonathan Sleath and Fred Rumsey, who all helped to produce a well-presented ‘survey pack’, including a pull-out identification guide, which is available from Gill ( to those interested in participating in the project.

Threatened Bryophyte Database

The Threatened Bryophyte Database is a significant new initiative which attempts to integrate BBS members into the UK Biodiversity Action Plan process as well as conservation work more generally. Full details are given in the article by Nick Hodgetts on pp 52-59 of this Bulletin.

See also the Threatened Bryophyte Database page

Ron Porley, English Nature, Foxhold House, Crookham Common, Thatcham, RG19 8EL; e-mail:


Recording Matters 24

Regional Recorders

There are a few amendments to the list of Regional Recorders:

36: Jonathan Sleath, The Villa, Kingstone, Hereford , HR2 9ET

37: Ann Hill, 114 Battenhall Road , Worcester , WR5 2BT

75: Paul King, 13 Meadowside Gardens, Rushmere St Andrew, nr Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 5RD

Lorna Fraser (v.-c. 37) and John Port (v.-c. 36) have retired, and I would like to thank them both sincerely for their services. However, the gaps have quickly been filled, such is the enthusiasm of BBS members, and I welcome the new incumbents.

Paul King, Recorder for v.-c. 75 and 100, would like to bring a matter to the attention of other members concerning local authority boundaries and their relationship with botanical recording districts. He notes that local authority biological recording centres are organised by local authority areas, which may not coincide with Watsonian vice-counties. For example, Arran , Great Cumbrae and Little Cumbrae are in v.-c. 100 (Clyde Isles) but are administered by North Ayrshire local authority, with offices in v.-c. 75 (Ayrshire).

A new Recording Secretary for the new year

This is my final contribution as Recording Secretary, as I have stepped aside, and Mark Hill (address inside front cover) has taken over the reins with effect from 1 January 2004 . I hope I have made a positive contribution to BBS recording activities during the eight years I’ve held the post, and I am greatly indebted to all the busy members who have sent in their records and supported the various projects. The Survey of Bryophytes of Arable Land is in full swing, and I hope many of you will become involved, even if it is to do just one field in your patch! When the arable field survey is done and dusted, I’d like to see a national survey of churchyards, and a national survey of gardens would be very interesting … However, Mark will be Recording Secretary then, and I’m sure he’d like to hear your views and thoughts. He is well known to most of you, and brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to bryophyte recording. I wish him all the best.

Ron Porley, English Nature, Foxhold House, Crookham Common, Thatcham , RG19 8EL ; e-mail:


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