BBS > Activities > Meetings and Workshops > Previous > 1976
Meetings of the BBS - 1976
Knutsford, 31 March - 7 April
The Spring Meeting (8-13 April) was held at Knutsford, Cheshire (v. -c. 58), and attended by 33 members. Excursions were also made into Derbyshire (v. -c. 57) and Staffordshire (v. -c. 39).
8 April. The morning was spent in the rocky millstone grit Goyt Valley, (v. -c. s 57 and 58), where Schistostega pennata, Plagiothecium laetum (57), and Sphagnum robustum (58) were seen; all were seen again later on the meeting. At lunchtime the party removed to the Stanley Arms at Bottom-of-the-Oven. Each day’s excursion was planned complete with a suitable hostelry for lunch. Two members openly eating their packed lunches in preference to the pub sandwiches were bounced by the landlord, thus setting a pattern of surreptitious feeding for the rest of the meeting. After lunch, the Ridgegate and Trentabank Reservoirs in Macclesfield Forest were investigated, producing Riccardia incurvata and Ephemerum serratum var. serratum, and later the Teg’s Nose was assaulted whilst many of the party remained in the woods below. Grimmia doniana was recorded on the millstone grit boulders. The afternoon foray ended abruptly as members raced for Macclesfield Hospital, where Dr Foster, the Local Secretary, very generously provided copious refreshment, together with an excellent buffet.
9 April. The River Dane, upstream of Danebridge (39 and 58), was worked, yielding abundant Dicranodontium denudatum on rotten logs and damp sandstone boulders in the woods near the river. Lejeunea lamacerina var. azorica (39), Plectocolea paroica (39), Scapania umbrosa and Leptodontium flexifolium were also seen on sandstone boulders, and Discelium nudum on shaded clay banks. Shell Brook, the afternoon venue, was similar, but had Cephaloziella rubella on a rotten log and Nardia geoscyphus. On the way back to Knutsford, Weissia rostellata and Blindia acuta were collected at Bosley Reservoir.
10 April. Much of the morning was spent unsuccessfully searching lime beds at Plumley Nature Reserve (58) for Desmatodon cernuus, seen in October 1966 by the B. B. S. The more open ground appeared to have become drier and the lime waste more friable, although this might be attributed to the exceptionally dry winter. This disappointment was greatly diminished by the discovery of Aloina brevirostris in considerable quantity. Other interesting species included Barbula hornschuchiana c. spor., Campylium polygamum, Weissia rutilans and Preissia quadrata. Damp soil on the margin of the pool produced Pottia heimii and Tortula subulata var. subinermis. In the afternoon members scattered widely over Cheshire, some visiting disused caustic soda workings and more lime beds near Northwich, seeing Bryum intermedium and Aloina brevirostris again, and abundant Campylopus introflexus growing on the grassy banks of a salt-pan. The Peckforton Hills, Triassic sandstone outcrops near Tarporley, exhibited a typical sandstone rock flora, including Calypogeia neesiana var. meylanii and Lepidozia trichoclados. Dicranum strictum was seen with immature capsules, apparently the first British fruiting record. Mrs. Appleyard saw Amblystegium kochii on planking by the Shropshire Union Canal, north of Crewe. Dr Jones, examining the disturbed sandy margin of the mere at Rudheath, encountered an unusually robust Lophozia in great quantity, with both male and fruiting plants. This later proved to be L. capitata, not previously seen north of Essex. Mr Perry gathered Atrichum tenellum on slightly drier ground nearby. In the evening a Council Meeting was held at the Royal George Hotel, Knutsford, reputedly the most expensive hotel ever used by the Society. Many members found alternative accommodation, including the author, who 'camped' in a lay-by in his ancient van, becoming a constant source of interest and irritation to the Cheshire Constabulary, who visited him on three occasions.
11 April. Brookhayes Nature Reserve on the edge of the drained Carrington Moss, is an oak wood established over old marl pits. No marl had been extracted for a very long time and the bryophyte flora was disappointing, although Acrocladium cordifolium thrived in some of the wetter hollows. Subsequently a pilgrimage was made to Rudheath, where many bryologist-hours were spent in admiring Lophozia capitata. Pohlia bulbifera was also recorded. After lunch one party journeyed to the north-east corner of Staffordshire, working millstone grit areas close to the Derbyshire border at Hollinsclough. Others visited a variety of habitats between Alderley Edge and Macclesfield. Dr Whitehouse went north to the Lancashire side of the Mersey near Urmston, and on the bank of the river found a form of Pohlia lutescens with axillary bulbils.
12 April. The first visit to limestone, at Wyedale (57) was marked by a notable change in the epiphyte flora, from the assemblage of Orthodontium lineare, Dicranoweisia cirrata, Aulacomnium androgynum, Tetraphis pellucida and Dicranum strictum with which we had become familiar in polluted Cheshire. Although Derbyshire is scarcely less polluted, the bark was here mollified by limestone dust from neighbouring quarries, and the epiphytes consisted principally of Grimmia apocarpa, Tortula subulata and Encalypta streptocarpa, with Eurhynchium murale on rotten wood. Dr Jones, while wetting up an epiphyte, took to the water, and was obliged to return to his car in search of dry clothing. The author forded the river without mishap and climbed the steep side of the valley to reach the upper part of the quarry in Great Rocks Dale, where Aloina rigida grew in great profusion. A small party, stepping out down Wyedale reached the bottom of the quarry, but had little time to examine it. Lunch was at the Rose and Crown, Allgreave, which proved to be that phenomenon of the outback, “a pub with no beer”, although the landlady had managed to secure an adequate supply of tinned Export ale. After this unusually dry lunch, the party made its way to the Black Brook at Gradbach (39), which flows into the River Dane near Allgreave. On and between damp sandstone rocks by the stream were seen fruiting Schistostega pennata, Tetraphis browniana and Brachydontium trichodes, while Atrichum crispum and Solenostoma sphaerocarpum were abundant by the stream. Above the woodland was moorland reputed to be inhabited by herds of feral wallabies, which were not seen, but great quantities of kangaroo dung was evident. A few people reached Lud’s Church, the spiritual home not of Luddites but of Lollards. This is a massive sandstone outcrop deeply cleft in two by a fault, harbouring Saccogyna viticulosa and Mylia taylori.
13 April. On the last morning, the Derbyshire side of the River Dove, south of Buxton, provided an extensive limestone flora, with Bryum elegans, Pleurochaete squarrosa and Porella laevigata at High Edge and Seligeria acutifolia and Amblystegiella confervoides at Tor Rock. The cliffs of the dry valley at Dowel Farm had Seligeria pusilla and Cololejeunea rossettiana. One car-load of members travelled south to Swallow Moss (39), but were not exploded by the army, neither were they able to find any bryophytes of note. Lunch was consumed in Hartington, where Stilton cheese from the local factory was on sale. Ecton Hill (39) is a limestone hill near Butterton, with old copper mines. Much of the copper mine waste was almost devoid of vegetation, but for much Bryum pallens and Cephaloziella hampeana and a little C. stellulifera and Leiocolea badensis. Seligeria pusilla was seen on shaded limestone rocks, and Leiocolea muelleri on damp limy soil. The first significant rain of the meeting fell during the afternoon, and members were generally happy to make an early return to Knutsford.Although the selection of species seen in some of the sandstone and moorland areas and the epiphyte flora were generally rather limited and uniform, this was more than compensated for by the richness of the limestone and the lime beds and the remarkable flora at Rudheath. Even the most blasé experts were stimulated by some of the plants seen, and less experienced members found much to interest them. We are all most grateful to Dr Foster for all he work he put into making the week a success, and congratulate him on finding so many interesting localities in a district which many of us had feared likely to prove uncompromisingly dull.
M. F. V. CORLEY
Melrose, Roxburgh, 22-27 August
Melrose was selected as a convenient centre to explore the county of Roxburgh, previously somewhat neglected by bryologists. Instructions provided by the B. B. S. for Local Secretaries did not include hints on rain-making so that bryophytes and bryologists were forced to endure continuous sunshine and severe drought throughout the week. Eleven members attended the whole meeting with a similar number for part. Excursions were primarily in Roxburgh (v.-c. 80) but also in Berwick (81) and Selkirk (79).
22 August. We were joined for the day by an enthusiastic party from the Botanical Society of Edinburgh. First we visited Smailholm Craigs west of Kelso (80), with extensive lava outcrops, but supporting a limited assemblage of saxicolous species. Hedwigia ciliata was abundant with Cynodontium jenneri* and Grimmia stirtonii* in small quantity. At midday we moved to Dogden Moss near Greenlaw (81), an extensive raised bog, normally spongy and treacherous but on this occasion firm and dry. Predictably, small hepatics were of interest, in particular Riccardia latifrons, Cephaloziella subdentata* and Calypogeia sphagnicola*, the last in abundance. A patch of Sphagnum imbricatum*, expertly detected by Dr. Corner, was an unexpected find so far east, while the old record of Dicranum undulatum was confirmed. The prominent Border folly, Hume Castle (81) was visited on the return journey, for members to admire the Tortulas - T. papillosa, T. laevipila and T. virescens on Fraxinus and T. princeps (with sporophytes) on the crags. A brief Tweedside foray opposite Makerstoun House (80) revealed Marchantia polymorpha var. alpestris* and Fissidens rufulus on exposed muddy rocks, and Scleropodium caespitosum* on boulders.
[* New vice-county record]
23 August. Minto Crags (adorned by the gaunt Fatlips Castle) near Denholm (80) were very dry and an exhausting scramble produced little of note except Cirriphyllum crassinervium, Mnium cuspidatum and Pterogonium gracile, also Orthotrichum pulchellum and O. stramineum on Sambucus. After lunching in a pleasantly cool but unpleasantly wasp-infested wood we took to the hills north of Hawick, visiting Blind Moss near Shielswood (80). Our walk there involved passing Shielswood Loch and inevitably the cool waters proved too great a temptation for some; indeed, suitable attire was at a premium resulting in some secretive exchanging of garments. Those who resisted found Blind Moss a delightful "basin-mire" (one of many in the district) containing such species as Acrocladium giganteum, Camptothecium nitens, Campylium elodes, Mnium rugicum, Sphagnum contortum and capsule-bearing Scorpidium scorpioides growing with the rare rush Juncus alpino-articulatus. Sphagnum imbricatum* grew luxuriantly on slightly drier ground.
24 August. An excursion to the Cheviot Hills was abandoned in favour of what we hoped would be moister places; but with mixed success. Catcleuch Reservoir (67) was an obvious choice but exposed mud, although extensive, was dry and barren. Richard's Cleugh near Camphouse (80), a natural wooded glen cut into Old Red Sandstone, had a limited flora including Hypnum cupressiforme var. mamillatum, Rhynchostegiella teesdalei, and Calypogeia arguta*. Farther north, the wooded banks of the Tweed near St. Boswells (80) were more interesting; Scleropodium caespitosum was seen again, also Orthotrichum rivulare, Leskea polycarpa, Anomodon viticulosus, Metzgeria pubescens and, on Fraxinus, Tortula papillosa
25 August. A 'free day'. Several people elected for sightseeing. Others attempted to view the fauna of the Farne Islands but were enshrouded in mist. Mr. Crundwell searched in vain for dune slacks on Ross Links (68). A 'square-bashing' party ventured into the hills south-west of Hawick (80) where lists were compiled from several unworked grid squares. The best locality visited was a wooded ravine at Gorrenberry, Hermitage Water, in which rarities for the region, Hylocomium brevirostre and Cololejeunea rossettiana* were growing. Noteworthy too were Lejeunea lamacerina var. azorica*, Heterocladium heteropterum var. flaccidum* on wet rocks and Zygodon viridissimus var. vulgaris on Fraxinus. At the remote farm of Dod Fossombronia pusilla* and Ephemerum serratum var. minutissimum* grew on a damp streamside; another valley nearby had Plectocolea subelliptica* and Scapania scandica* (both with perianths) on damp gravel and Scapania aspera on rock. A final stop at Robert's Linn waterfall, Slitrig Water, yielded Barbilophozia hatcheri and Lophozia alpestris.
26 August. The Black Burn near Newcastleton (80), much celebrated as the place where Trochobryum carniolicum was discovered in Britain (but never refound there) was considered worthy of a visit but here too the drought hampered our efforts. Prostrate bryologists scrutinized innumerable rocks and boulders in the burn, bringing to light Plectocolea paroica, P. subelliptica, Scapania subalpina, Solenostoma cordifolium and Anomobryum concinnatum. The shaded rock faces (Carboniferous limestones and sand-stones) yielded Brachydontium trichodes, Seligeria doniana, S. pusilla, S. recurvata, Eucladium verticillatum, Gyroweisia tenuis, Tetraphis browniana (all with sporophytes), Orthothecium intricatum, Trichostomum crispulum* and Sphenolobus minutus. More western species in evidence were Lejeunea lamacerina, Mylia taylori and Breutelia chrysocoma. Riccardia incurvata and Fossombronia incurva* were found on damp gravel. Dicranella crispa flourished on a shaded earthy bank. The elusive Trochobryum was not found but could survive in tributary streams unexplored on this occasion.
27 August. The final day was devoted to the Selkirkshire hills (79), the morning locality being the Kirkhope ravine at Ettrickbridge End. The Silurian 'greywacke' strata were base-poor but nevertheless suitable for Plectocolea paroica, Anomodon viticulosus, Anomobryum concinnatum*, Trichostomum brachydontium*, T. crispulum* and its variety elatum*. In the stream Fissidens rufulus abounded; also thriving were Orthotrichum rivulare and Leskea polycarpa on exposed Alnus roots. Pohlia delicatula* grew on damp soil. Mr. Townsend emerged from a Sambucus thicket with several creditable finds, namely Metzgeria fruticulosa*, Cryphaea heteromalla*, Orthotrichum pulchellum, O. striatum, Tortula papillosa and Ulota phyllantha.
Kingside Loch near Buccleuch, proved a worthy locality for our final excursion. Beyond the Phragmites-fringed east margin was an extensive swampy zone dominated by Carex, Sphagnum and an extraordinary abundance of Mnium cinclidioides. Lenses were focused much of the time on the stem leaves of Sphagnum recurvum during a lively discussion (primarily between Messrs. Crundwell and Hill) on the status of the three varieties of this species (denoted as S. flexuosum vars. flexuosum, tenue, and fallax by Mr. Hill) conveniently growing here in mixed stands. Other species seen were Mnium rugicum*, M. seligeri, and of particular rarity Acrocladium sarmentosum. More base-rich conditions nearby supported Sphagnum contortum, S. teres and S. warnstorfianum. Those who had noted the absence of Mrs. Paton from the loch side knew that the nearby peaty blanket bog which she was assiduously studying on all fours was of hepaticological merit. We were therefore not surprised by her impressive list of Calypogeia neesiana var. neesiana*, C. sphagnicola*, Cephalozia pleniceps*, C. loitlesbergeri* and Riccardia latifrons*. Some of the party explored the Buck Cleuch ravine nearby adding Fissidens rufulus, Orthothecium intricatum and Scapania aspera* to the record card.
In spite of the dull nature of some of the localities visited, a few observations can be made on the results of the meeting. Obvious was the unpredictability of the terrain, interesting species occurring in otherwise unexceptional habitats (e.g. Tortula virescens at Hume). A few localities (such as King-side Loch and the Black Burn) did have more extensive bryophyte communities of greater significance. Of new records made most gratifying are the discovery of Sphagnum imbricatum so far east, and Cololejeunea rossettiana, a species with very few Scottish localities. Equally rewarding is the knowledge that Dicranum undulatum still survives in probably its last locality in southern Scotland. Scleropodium caespitosum, here at its northern limit in Britain, was found to be abundant by the Tweed. Two other species of restricted distribution in lowland Britain were common in the district -Fissidens rufulus and Tortula papillosa. Others were conspicuous by their absence despite apparently suitable habitats - examples being Sphagnum subsecundum var. subsecundum and the Grimmia species characteristic of similar basaltic rocks in the nearby Lothians.
Perhaps the most productive aspect of the meeting was that representative lists were compiled from 13 previously under-recorded grid squares, and clearly this contribution, in the form of future distribution maps, will help to put the Bryophyte Flora of the district into broader perspective.
DAVID G. LONG
Bangor, 24-26 September
The annual meeting was held on the weekend of 24-26 September in the School of Plant Biology, University College of North Wales, Bangor, by kind permission of Professor J. L. Harper. The meeting got off to a fine start on the evening of 24th with the special retirement dinner for Professor Paul Richards, C. B. E., an event which proved a delightful reunion for over 60 bryologists from all parts of the world. The highlight of the evening was an address by Professor Richards in which he reminisced on his 50-plus years as a bryologist. It was especially enchanting to hear, first hand, the now almost legendary tale of his visit, at the age of 12, to the distinguished Welsh bryologist, D. A. Jones. After recovering from the initial surprise that the new recruit to the art was a school-boy the latter kindly identified Paul's mosses amongst which was Hedwigia integrifolia, appropriately later seen in the meeting's excursion.
About 45 members and guests attended on Saturday when the President introduced 6 speakers, whose papers are summarized below.
Professor P. W. RICHARDS (School of Plant Biology, Bangor): 'Robert Hooke's chapter on mosses'.
Robert Hooke's Micrographia, published in 1665, records observations on a large variety of biological and other objects seen with the microscope developed and improved by himself. One chapter ('Observation XXI'), headed 'Of Moss and several other small vegetative substances', is illustrated by an engraved plate with four figures showing the external features of the gametophyte and sporophyte (though not the gametangia) of a moss. The audience was invited to identify the species shown in Hooke's plate. A wide variety of suggestions was made, but Prof. Richards own opinion was that if the figures were indeed all of the same species it could be Bryum capillare Hedw.
After a brief account of Hooke himself, the text of Observation XXI was discussed. It begins with a description of the morphology of the 'common moss' which includes such details as the filaments connecting the spore sac with the capsule wall. The language seems quaint, but it should be remembered that Hooke was handicapped by the lack of suitable descriptive terms and was ignorant of the life-history. He makes some shrewd observations on the physiology and ecology of mosses and gives an interesting discussion of whether moss 'does sometimes originally spring or rise out of corruption'.
Hooke's chapter is one of the most important early contributions to bryology and deserves much closer study than it has so far received.
Dr. L.B. KASS (Genetics Department, Cambridge University, and Cornell University, lthaca, New York, U. S. A.): 'Chloroplast Replication in the moss Polytrichum'.
The chloroplasts of germinating spores of the moss Polytrichum replicate in darkness to a lesser extent than in light. After 48 hrs of darkness a stable mean number (plateau) of plastids per spore or germling is attained and exposure to light then stimulates the plastids to replicate. This light response appears to be phytochrome-mediated because when red light is used the promotive effect of the light can be completely reversed by far-red light. If the plastids at the plateau are given brief exposure to white light further replication of the plastids occurs in the light or in darkness. It appears therefore, that a response to light triggers a series of events that can continue in darkness. Cycloheximide (CHI) inhibits plastid replication completely, but chloramphenicol (CAP) inhibits only to the same extent as darkness. Neither inhibitor can stop the response of the plastids to light. Replication of plastids in spores that have been incubated in darkness for 48 hrs and transferred to light is prevented by both CHI and CAP but only for as long as the inhibitors are present. If CHI and CAP is washed out when the spores and sporelings are returned to darkness, plastid replication commences. It appears that the plastids exist in two phases with regard to replication: a light sensitive phase and a light insensitive phase.
Shalit (The role of light in the replication of plastids in a moss Polytrichum. Honours thesis, Cornell University, lthaca, New York, 1976), has recently shown that the effect of a 4 hr light exposure on plastid replication (as measured after 44 hrs of additional dark) can be reduced by 40% by 5 minute exposure to far-red light immediately following the white light treatment. However, if CHI is present during the light treatment, the effect of the light is negated completely by far-red light. It appears that the effect of light on plastid replication is mediated by a shift in the phytochrome balance (Pr/Pfr ratio). If protein synthesis is not allowed when the Pr/Pfr ratio is favourable, replication of plastids does not occur. Autoradiographic studies on nucleic acid synthesis in Polytrichum have indicated that light stimulates RNA and DNA synthesis as well as plastid replication. Nuclear and chloroplast DNA synthesis can be separated temporally, chloroplast DNA synthesis occurring before that in the nucleus.
Dr. T. G. A. GREEN and Dr. K. A. CLAYTON-GREENE (Department of Botany, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand, and Department of Botany, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia): 'The Growth of Dawsonia superba Grev. '.
The growth (increase in length) of female plants without sporophytes of the giant moss Dawsonia superba was monitored for 450 days. Measurements were taken at about two weekly intervals by measuring increase in length from a marked point on the stem. Temperature, rainfall and humidity were also recorded at the site which was located in forest at 2280 feet on Mt. Te Aroha, North Island, New Zealand, latitude 37° 30'. S. Large differences in growth rates between plants were found, from 0 to 53 mm in 450 days. It was suggested that plants grew at between 30-50 mm per annum until archegonia matured when growth decreased. Growth was positively correlated with temperature (mean, P = 0.000003; maxima, P = 0.000003), day length (P = 0.004) and atmospheric water deficit (mean deficit, P = 0.001; mean maximum deficit, P = 0.00006). Growth was negatively correlated with rainfall (P = 0.02). Because these environmental factors are inter-related multiple regression analysis of growth on maximum temperature, day length, rainfall and mean maximum water deficit was carried out. By step-down predictive analysis the best predictor of growth was found to be temperature (P = 0.00006).
The apparent independence of the plant from rainfall was probably the result of the capacity of the plant to obtain soil moisture by its extensive rhizome system. The presence of wax on the apical cells of the leaf lamellae was demonstrated using a scanning electron microscope. It was proposed that the function of the wax was to act as a water repellent to prevent flooding of the interlamellar spaces with water.
Dr. G. A. M. SCOTT (Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia): 'Bryology in Australia'.
There are three phases in the history of Australasian bryology, those of: the explorers, the local field naturalists, and the professional bryologists.
1. Explorers. Until roughly 1800, Australia and New Zealand shared the same bryological development. The earliest explorers, Tasman in N. Z. (1642) and Dampier in N. W. Australia (1699) collected no bryophytes. On Cook's first voyage (1769) to New Zealand and Australia (with Parkinson as artist) Banks and Solander collected a few bryophyte specimens which probably were those used by Hedwig in his "Species Muscorum". They are not in Hedwig's herbarium and were presumably borrowed by him. Alternatively they may have been collected by the Forsters and Sparrman on Cook's second voyage (1772) in the "Endeavour", when Dusky Sound was first explored and surveyed. The first substantial collections of bryophytes, however, were made by Menzies in 1791 in Dusky Sound, on Vancouver's "Discovery" expedition; many of the species were later described and illustrated in (3) W. J. Hooker's "Musci Exotici".
Other explorers followed in quick succession: 1792; D'Entrecasteauc in "Récherche" and "Espérance" visited Tasmania and West Australia, taking a botanist LaBillardière (4) who was probably the first to publish illustrations as well as descriptions of Australian bryophytes. 1800; Bauhin visited WA, NSW, and Tasmania with Leschenault as botanist. 1801-3; Flinders, in the "Investigator" visited the same regions with the great Robert Brown as botanist (and Bauer as artist); Brown collected a great many specimens including several bryophytes which, however, were never published. 1818; Captain King, with Alan Cunningham as naturalist, visited WA and Tasmania. 1819; Fréycinet, with Gaudichaud as botanist, visited NSW and Tasmania. 184041; J.D. Hooker, in the Antarctic Expedition, visited the Bay of Islands (N. Z.) where he collected many bryophytes with Dr. Sinclair and Colenso, a local naturalist; then on to the subantartic islands and Tasmania where he collected with Gunn, another local naturalist. 1847-9; Captain Stokes in "Acheron" surveyed the N. Z. coast, accompanied by Dr. Lyall who collected bryophytes assiduously; his results appear in (2) Hooker's "Flora of New Zealand" (1867), which includes all plant groups and lasted as the standard reference work for the next century; indeed it is still the only flora for several plant groups. In Australia, botanists were less fortunate. In Tasmania, where terrain and bryophytes are similar to those of N. Z. and where Hooker collected extensively, his (1) "Flora Tasmaniae" (1859) was the precursor of several accounts of both mosses and liverworts, but the rest of Australia had to wait another century before (7) the first flora appeared (and that only for temperate region mosses), with a corresponding dampening effect on the development of Phase 2.
2. Local Naturalists. This era lasted for approximately the next century (6). A dozen local naturalists of distinction carried on the bryological exploration of N. Z., of whom the two greatest characters were the Rev. Wm. Colenso (coll. c 1833-50 and 1870-99) and Robert Brown tertius (1824-96) both of whom published not wisely but too well. Work carried on into the 20th century, culminating in the era of Hodgson, Allison and Sainsbury whose (5) "Handbook of the N. Z. Mosses" (1955) effectively brought to an end the phase of the local naturalists (for mosses).
In Australia, during the same period, there were fewer collectors, but Ronald Gunn (coll. c 1832-70) in Tasmania, James Drummond in W. A. (Swan River Colony) (coll. c 1829-63) both collected extensively and sent very many specimens to the Hookers.
The emphasis on W. A. and Tasmania shifted to the south-east, to Victoria, with the advent of Baron Ferdinand von Mueller, who dominated Australian botany in the second half of the last century and sent thousands of bryophyte specimens to Kew and elsewhere (1849-97). The Rev. W. W. Watts, and others explored the moss flora of N. S. W. ; and Rodway and especially Weymouth, collected extensively in Tasmania about the turn of the century. There was then a considerable hiatus, with a brief revival of interest (8) in the 1950's when J. H. Willis worked on Victorian mosses.
3. Professional Bryologists. This is the era of the present day. With the untimely death, recently, of Bruce Hamlin, New Zealand has been deprived of a promising hepaticologist; and the still more recent death of K. W. Allison, the Grand Old Man of New Zealand bryology, marks the end of the Old Regime. There remain perhaps half a dozen bryologists in New Zealand, four of whom are professional botanists but none of whom seems likely to fill the role of taxonomic arbiter previously filled so ably by Sainsbury, Hodgson and Allison. In Australia, still well behind N. Z. in terms of knowledge of the flora, a similar handful of bryologists is at work - only one of whom is an amateur. Work is in progress on floras of the tropical mosses and of the liverworts, but it will be years before publication. The lack of a working handbook, which has hitherto handicapped bryological activity in Australia, has meant that many regions, especially alpine and tropical, are greatly under-collected, and this is a deficiency which cannot quickly be made good; but there are some signs of a revival of interest and the prospects for the future are bright.
Dr. S.W. GREENE (Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Penicuik, Midlothian): 'The Species Problem in Bryophytes'.
The text of this paper is published in J. Hattori bot. Lab. 41, 1-6 (1976).
Dr. K. LEWIS and Dr. A.J.E. SMITH (School of Plant Biology, Bangor): 'Bulbiferous Pohlias in Britain'.
This paper will shortly be published in J. Bryol.
Dr. P.D. COKER (Thames Polytechnic): 'Microclimates, mosses and man; some views on rare and threatened species of bryophytes'.
It is well known that some species of bryophytes are endangered by over-collecting and such environmental factors as air pollution, but little is known about, and even less attention is paid to, the less immediately obvious causes of the decline or extinction of certain species. Changes in agricultural practice, building materials, drainage or forestry operations all cause problems as far as some of the more sensitive species are concerned. The possible effects of small changes in local weather patterns (micro-climate) are also considered, and some suggestions for active conservation of both species and habitats are made.
The Annual General Meeting was held after tea.
The Society is very grateful to the University College of North Wales for making accommodation and lecture hall facilities available for its use. Indeed, the success of the meeting can be perhaps best measured by the fact that bryological activities did not cease until 3.30 a. m. on Saturday morning. At that time the Secretary was apprehended by the Gwynedd constabulary for driving the wrong way down Bangor High Street. He was, however, later discharged after explaining that he had got carried away in his endeavour to find Bryum radiculosum on the walls of the cathedral.
On 26 September, in brilliant autumn sunshine, members set out to explore Craig-y-Dulyn, a cwm on the eastern side of the Carneddau range, previously little known bryologically. Members spread out like sheep over the hillside and recorded over 170 species. Blanket bogs produced 17 Sphagna including S. contortum, S. girgensohnii, S. robustum, S. warnstorfianum, S. teres, S. flexuosum var. tenue*, and several others with antheridial branches in the peak of condition, a characteristic autumnal feature of the genus in Britain. In the flushes were Acrocladium sarmentosum, Pellia neesiana and Scapania uliginosa in only its 4th Welsh locality. Diverse habitats about the cliffs, including large areas of basic ground, provided a wealth of uncommon mountain species, most notably Amphidium lapponicum, Barbula ferruginascens, Bartramia ithyphylla, Blindia acuta, Dicranella subulata, Fissidens osmundoides, Grimmia funalis, G. stricta, G. torquata, Pterogonium gracile, Rhabdoweisia crenulata, Rhacomitrium ellipticum, Anastrepta orcadensis, Douinia ovata, Gymnomitrion concinnatum, Herberta adunca, H. straminea, Hygrobiella laxifolia and Leiocolea muelleri. On the screes were Antitrichia curtipendula, Scapania scandica, Marsupella ustulata, Barbilophozia barbata, B. atlantica and fine Tetraplodon mnioides, the last a sombre testimony to multiple ovine suicides from the cliffs above.
[* New vice-county record.]
Later in the day one party visited the River Conwy near Trefriw to collect Fissidens monguillonii only to be thwarted by heavy overnight rain which had submerged the plant under several feet of water. Brian O'Shea was only restrained from swimming for the Fissidens by abundant Orthotrichum sprucei on riverside alders, (i.e. he nearly fell in). The excursion did, however, finish on a successful note with a pilgrimage to see Ditrichum plumicola together with Weissia controversa var. densifolia and Cephaloziella hampeana at Pen-yr-Allt mine near Llyn Crafnant. The meeting finally concluded with a soireé at the author's house, but alas it was too dark to see Fissidens celticus and Pohlia lutescens in the garden.
J. G. DUCKETT
Thames Polytechnic, Woolwich, 20-21 November
The third taxonomic workshop opened with a laboratory session on 20 November in the School of Biological Sciences, Thames Polytechnic, by kind permission of Mr M. D. Morisetti, Head of the School. The session was attended by 30 members and guests.
Mrs J. A. Paton started the day by discussing the identification of hepatics using sexual structures. Diagrams were drawn showing dioecious and various monoecious conditions, and the structure of antheridia and archegonia. Methods were described for finding these structures in specimens, and various problems mentioned. Fresh material was stated to be a great advantage in identifying hepatics. Mrs Paton gave a very useful list of genera and species of hepatics requiring fertile material for adequate identification. The ensuing laboratory work was based on material provided by Mrs Paton and gave several members the opportunity to examine antheridia and archegonia for the first time; and allowed all to consolidate the theoretical discussion with excellent practical examples.
Dr. J. G. Duckett talked about the genus Barbula in the afternoon, covering all but 3 of the 22 U.K. species. He pointed out first that one of the characters stressed by Dixon, the shape of the basal cells of the leaves, was not a good character, and then listed the characters he found most useful in distinguishing Barbulas. These characters were: leaf shape, excurrent nerve, elongated/short cells over the nerve. Within each group the species were distinguished by other key structural characters and habitat differences. The session continued with the examination of prepared microscope slides of all the species described. The slides, together with specimens from Dr. Duckett's herbarium, were available to be taken away by interested members. Dr. Duckett also made available copies of the section on Barbula from Dr. Smith's projected new moss flora, and copies of a checklist of British Mosses from Dr. Smith showing all the British taxa now recognized, including much updated nomenclature.
Members were very pleased to welcome Mr A. J. Pettifer to the afternoon session - unfortunately not now able to be a very frequent visitor to meetings. Another ex-President, the globe-trotting Mr Wallace, very kindly distributed duplicates from his herbarium.
On the second day of the weekend, ten members gathered on a cold but dry day at Gomshall Station, near Shere in Surrey. Whilst waiting for the train from London to arrive (it didn't), speliologists in the party found Schistostega pennata in a sandstone cave by the railway track. The party continued up to the chalk of Hackhurst Downs where Dr. Duckett immediately found Barbula acuta new to Surrey. Other plants seen on the Downs included Aloina aloides, Barbula convoluta and var. commutata, B. hornschuchiana, B. fallax, B. unguiculata, Entodon concinnus, Fissidens incurvus, Thuidium hystricosum, Tortella inflexa, Weissia crispa and W. sterilis. Jean Paton was not in her element in such a predominantly mossy place, but producedLeiocolea badensis from a chalk pit.
After a rather late lunch, a quick inspection was made of an old wall in Shere where Barbula recurvirostra, B. rigidula, B. revoluta and B. trifaria were added to the list, but predominating was B. vinealis which was present in luxurious abundance. Orthotrichum anomalum and Grimmia pulvinata were also present. To provide a contrast, the party then moved on to the Lower Greensand at Pitch Hill, where Brachydontium trichodes and Polytrichum urnigerum c. spor. were seen. Further on towards Peaslake Bartramia pomiformis was frequent on a roadside bank, but steadily diminishing light and temperature forced an end to a day enjoyed by beginner and expert alike.
Many thanks must go to Mr Wallace for taking us to places that could provide such a wide range of interest, to Dr. Paddy Coker for being Local Secretary, laboratory technician and tea-boy, and to Mrs Paton and Dr. Duckett who did us proud both in the laboratory and in the field. We will all be looking forward to next November.
B. J. O'SHEA