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Meetings of the BBS - 1990

 

Spring Field Meeting 1990

Morecombe 3 - 11 April

Though small in area, Lancashire north of the river Ribble encompasses a remarkably diverse range of habitats. This reflects its varied geology and topography. Most of the Bowland uplands are within its borders, and land rises to over 2000ft on the Pennine massif. Substantial limestone exposures, partly wooded, occur in the northern part of the county, notably in the Arnside, Hutton Roof and Leck Beck areas. These contain important bryophyte sites. The Bowland uplands are composed mainly of sandstones and shales, ranging from strongly acidic to base-enriched, much of which is overlain by peat above the upland fence. The richest bryophyte habitats in this area include the upland mires, and the ravine woodlands on the northern slopes. It was in order to survey these and other habitats that the members of the Society foregathered in April 1990.

The headquarters for the week was the Belle Vue Hotel on the Morecambe sea front, and this proved to be good value. It was comfortable and warm, the food good, and the proprietors willingly accommodate our particular requirements. A total of 40 people attended the meeting for at least some of the time, and all but three came on field excursions. We were especially pleased to welcome an overseas contingent - Barbara Murray from Alaska, and Lillian Franck, Heike Hofmann and Johannes Vogel from Germany. The weather was generally kind. Apart from rain on the Thursday and the following Monday, the week was mostly warm and bright with much sunshine.

4 April. Clougha Pike. Three stalwarts attended the short afternoon excursion on the first day. We met at the car park below Clougha Pike. Though only three miles from Lancaster City centre, the area has much of interest. A rather small range of typical bryophytes was found in the stunted oak woodland which covered blocky gritstone talus at the base of the hillslope, though these were often in abundance. Dicranum fuscescens was notably common on boulders and as an epiphyte. Dicranum majus, Leucobryum glaucum, Campylopus flexuosus, Lepidozia reptans, Barbilophozia floerkei and Scapania gracilis were prominent members of the community. On open block talus screes above, bryophytes were often luxuriant. Most notable was the frequent occurrence of Lepidozia cupressina, which in Lancashire is most common on Clougha Pike. Other species noted included Sphagnum quinquefarium, Mylia taylorii, Kurzia trichoclados, Barbilophozia atlantica, Racomitrium lanuginosum and Calypogeia integristipula.

5 April. Dalton Crags and Leck Beck. Two separate venues were planned for the first full day. Nineteen members assembled at Dalton Crags, an area of partly wooded limestone pavement, which rises to the limestone plateau of Hutton Roof. Torrential rain with hail engulfed us soon after entering the site, but fortunately lasted only a short time, and eventually the sun appeared. The bryophyte flora was rich and interesting. Common species such as Ctenidium molluscum, Isothecium myurum, Porella platyphylla, Thamnobryum alopecurum, Anomodon viticulosus, Tortella tortuosa and Fissidens cristatus covered boulders, and the clints and grikes. Rather more local taxa included Funaria muhlenbergii, Bryum elegans, Rhytidium rugosum, Barbilophozia barbata and Marchesinia mackaii. Peter Martin found Tortella densa*, new to v.c.60. Cololejeunea calcarea, C. rossettiana and Seligeria pusilla were found in small quantity on vertical rock faces , and thin peat over limestone supported such calcifuges as Leucobryum glaucum, Pleurozium schreberi and Racomitrium lanuginosum. Epiphytes on a few Elders included Ulota crispa var. norvegica, U. phyllantha, Orthotrichum pulchellum, Zygodon conoideus and Metzgeria fruticulosa.

In the afternoon, we made our way westwards to survey Springs Wood and part of the Leck Beck above Leck village. A good range of species typical of bouldery streams included Brachythecium plumosum, Hygrohypnum luridum, Schistidium alpicola, Amblystegium tenax, Cinclidotus fontinaloides and Thamnobryum alopecurum. The more interesting species of the wooded banks and rocks above were Plagiochila britannica, Thuidium delicatulum, Scapania aspera, Tritomaria quinquedentata, Taxiphyllum wissgrillii and Breutelia chrysocoma. Chris Preston detected Cryphaea heteromalla* new to v.c.60, and also on Elders were Orthotrichum lyellii, O. stramineum and Ulota phyllantha. On the west side of the Leck Beck, Springs Wood itself was, however, disappointingly poor. One or two members of the party ventured further up the valley and, inter alia, added the Lancashire rarities Bartramia ithyphylla, Fissidens osmundoides and Racomitrium ericoides to the day's list.

6 April. Ease Gill and Greygareth Fell. We spent the whole of this sunny day in the extreme north-west of the county, where Lancashire attains its highest elevation. Mark Hill and a few others headed for the highest ground, and, having expressed a wish to survey the most species-poor tetrad in the area, spent the day exploring acidic habitats up to 2000ft on Greygareth Fell. In a small tally of species, there were, however, some interesting finds including Andreaea rupestris, Splachnum sphaericum, S. ampullaceum, and Calypogeia azurea, all rare in Lancashire. The rest of the party spent the day examining the bryophyte flora of the limestone scars, grassland and flushes bordering Ease Gill, and the adjacent heather moorland. This area is the richest bryologically in the county, and has a splendid array of species in abundance. Notable species seen today included Hylocomium brevirostre, Orthothecium intricatum, Plagiopus oederi, Seligeria acutifolia, Apometzgeria pubescens, Lejeunea patens, Plagiochila spinulosa, and Porella arboris-vitae. Jeremy Roberts and Nick Hodgetts rediscovered Bazzania tricrenata, which had not been seen since 1905. Nick and the local secretary independently found Pedinophyllum interruptum*. Cliff Townsend collected Tortula subulata var. graeffii* and also confirmed for v.c.60 was Mnium thomsonii*. Zygodon baumgartneri* was found on the base of an Ash tree growing from the limestone scar. Of particular note was the abundance of Cololejeunea calcarea in dry shaded crevices or under overhangs, as was the abundance of fruiting Neckera crispa above. The only disappointment on an otherwise most successful day (over 200 species recorded) was the failure to locate the small calciphilous mire in which Cinclidium stygium was found in 1906, and to confirm its presence.

7 April. Littledale, Foxdale and Wardstone. Saturday was the best attended day, the sun shone, and 32 members and friends assembled at Littledale Hall above Caton. The objective was to survey Foxdale Beck and the surrounding woods and upland habitats. Most people did not venture far up the valley, being content to examine the fairly rich flora of the boundary stream and adjacent woodland in the first quarter mile. Species here included Seligeria pusilla, Brachydontium trichodes, Bazzania trilobata, Nowellia curvifolia on rotting logs, Hookeria lucens on a seepage bank, and an abundance of Lejeunea ulicina and Metzgeria temperata on tree trunks.

Others went further up Foxdale Beck, and recorded a hundred or so species on rock, heathery slopes, and in base-enriched seepages. Of particular note along the beck were Amphidium mougeotii, Blindia acuta, Fissidens taxifolius var. pallidicaulis, Bartramia ithyphylla, Gyroweisia tenuis and Oligotrichum hercynicum. The Calluna-Vaccinium covered hillslopes, supported the characteristic association of Dicranum majus, Rhytidiadelphus loreus, Bazzania trilobata, Barbilophozia floerkei, Lepidozia reptans and Plagiothecium undulatum. Here were recorded Calypogeia neesiana, Polytrichum alpinum, and Kurzia trichoclados in abundance. Several people remarked on the very fine show of typical Rhynchostegium alopecuroides which occurred locally in abundance in Foxdale Beck: one member said he was now "happy to believe in the species".

The Presidential Party as usual headed for high ground, i.e. the summit of Wardstone, and provided lists for several tetrads. The acidic ground was poor in species and nothing of special note was found. Eleven species of Sphagnum included S. quinquefarium, S. russowii and S. tenellum. Nardia compressa was abundant in some rocky streams, and Tetrodontium brownianum was found in one or two deep crevices.

At the end of the day a few members visited the nearby Cragg Wood, and recorded Fontinalis squamosa in its stream.

8 April. Whitendale and Dunsop Bridge. Twenty-seven members attended today's field meeting. We travelled south-west over the Trough of Bowland to Dunsop Bridge, and thence north along private estate roads into Whitendale. This was unknown territory bryologically, and it proved to be poor for a number of contributory reasons. The Whitendale river was strongly eutrophicated as evidenced by abundant algal growths, and bryophytes were few and sparse. The hillsides were heavily grazed, and bare peat locally exposed. The valley was south-facing, and almost all the ground was strongly acidic. However, after the riches of the previous days, the relative paucity of the flora did at least provide an opportunity for the common upland species to be studied at leisure. And it was good to take things easy on this cloudless and warm day. Roy Perry and Barbara Murray discovered a small quantity of Anastrepta orcadensis and new finds in the lower valley included Dicranella cerviculata and Sphagnum girgensohnii.

The more energetic made the long walk to the head of the valley and the plateau above. Despite the unpromising terrain, small basic areas were found, and the more interesting species included Anomobryum filiforme, Fissidens osmundoides, Philonotis calcarea, Sphagnum teres and Scapania umbrosa. David Long found Bryum riparium* new to v.c. 64 on a wet rock by the Whitendale River. Extensive rock scars on the upper slopes of the Bowland Fells look promising from a distance, but those of the party who examined them above Whitendale were inevitably disappointed. Aerial pollution has made them bryologically bald. The member for Twickenham, on examining the Great Bull Stones and finding nothing, professed "This is the worst place I've ever been!"

A survey of epiphytic species near Dunsop Bridge provided valuable records of Cryphaea heteromalla, Ulota phyllantha, U. crispa and Orthotrichum pulchellum.

9 April. Warton Crag and Gait Burrows. Limestone country was on the menu for today. The morning was spent at Warton Crag, a limestone hill overlooking Morecambe Bay. This hill has a series of scars and terraces, wooded below, which rise to areas of Sesleria grassland and limestone pavement above. A characteristic flora of the wooded scars included such species as Cirriphyllum crassinervium, Brachythecium populeum and Mnium stellare in abundance, and Eurhynchium striatulum was in huge quantity on shaded boulders and scars. Also recorded were Reboulia hemisphaerica, Metzgeria conjugata and Cololejeunea rossettiana. On the scars and pavements above, Funaria muhlenbergii was frequent, but F. pulchella, which was recorded here in 1902, was not refound. There were fine patches of Riccia beyrichiana in peaty hollows - sadly some was unnecessarily collected. Chris Preston discovered Bryum canariense, and Harold Whitehouse found Pottia lanceolata, which had not been recorded in Lancashire for 80 years.

For lunch and the afternoon session we moved to Gait Barrows National Nature Reserve, which contains the best single example of limestone pavement in Britain. The warden, Tony Aldridge, gave a much appreciated introductory talk on the reserve. Though extensive areas of pavement were removed for ornamental stone before the NNR was established (the huge quantity lining the Morecambe sea front, for example, bears testimony to the scale of past exploitation), large areas remain undamaged. Those of the party who had not hitherto seen limestone pavement, marvelled at the large area of massive, flat tubular limestone with "bonzai" Ash, Oak, Yew, Juniper and many other shrubs growing from its grikes. Of the large number of limestone bryophytes recorded, the most notable included Platydictya confervoides, Barbula reflexa in abundance, Ditrichum flexicaule, Pleurochaete squarrosa, Rhytidium rugosum, Thuidium recognitum, Riccia beyrichiana, and a second county record for Tortella densa. Of particular interest were the thin peat lenses which had developed on the flat limestone surface, which supported an intimate mixture of both calcicole and calcifuge species. Among the latter were Calluna vulgaris, Hypericum pulchrum, Potentilla erecta, Hypnum jutlandicum, Pleurozium schreberi, and Plagiothecium undulatum. Epiphytes included Orthotrichum stramineum on Elder, and Cololejeunea calcarea on a tree trunk. Hawes Water, a marl lake, was visited briefly, and Campylium elodes and Eurhynchium speciosum noted on its margins.

A cold wind with persistent light rain rather dampened enthusiasm at the end of the afternoon, and we were not unhappy to retreat to the warmth of the hotel.

10 April. Roeburndale. The last full day dawned overcast and remained so all day. A depleted party of 12 set out for Roeburndale to survey part of the valley upstream of the area visited by the Society in 1981. The morning was spent in Winder Wood, which is situated on a steep hillside bordering the river. Bryophytes were abundant on shaded and moist slopes by the woodland beck. Notable among them were Seligeria recurvata abundant on vertical sandstone faces, and the several square feet of Ptilidium pulcherrimum on a fallen tree. Cliff Townsend came across Campylostelium saxicola, and Bryum capillare var. rufifolium* new to v.c. 60. Tetrodontium brownianum occurred in dark places.

Further up the wooded valley at Haylotts, species characteristic of alluvial banks included Atrichum crispum, Pogonatum urnigerum, Dicranella rufescens and Pohlia camptotrachela. Shale scars had a typical flora including Fissidens pusillus, Jungermannia pumila, and Heterocladium heteropterum. Other species seen today were Philonotis caespitosa, Hookeria lucens, and Ctenidium molluscum woodland taxon in both sites.

11 April. The Greeta gorge. Just three of us remained for the final morning's excursion. The first stop was a site by Morecambe Bay where the author found Bryum donianum in 1978, but we discovered that subsequent building operations had obliterated the site. A brief exploration was then made of part of the Keer banks at Carnforth, hoping to confirm historical records of one or two coastal species - but a complete blank, and not even Pottia heimii seen. Gressingham Bridge was the next stop, where we admired Orthotrichum sprucei which was common on silty tree-bases and branches in the flood zone of the river Lune.

However, the main objective of the morning was to re-find Campylostelium saxicola in the gorge of the River Greeta where Albert Wilson recorded it in 1905. We were lucky enough to find it fruiting well on two pieces of calcareous sandstone on the floor of a hazel coppice area close to the river. The bryophyte flora is well-developed in this beautiful wooded gorge. It included abundant Anomodon viticulosus, Porella platyphylla and Homalia trichomanoides on tree bases, Heterocladium heteropterum var. flaccidum, Mnium marginatum, Lejeunea cavifolia and Fissidens crassipes on rocks, and Cryphaea heteromalla and Dicranum montanum on tree trunks.

During the week 23 tetrads were visited and a total of 368 taxa recorded. This total represents some 68% of the taxa recorded since 1950 in Lancashire north of the river Ribble. Despite there having been intensive survey in this area since 1979 in preparation for a Flora, 8 new county records and a substantial number of 10km square records were made. Thanks are due to all owners and occupiers for allowing us access to their land, to staff of the Nature Conservancy Council for help in planning the meeting, and to Tony Aldridge for welcoming us to Gait Barrows. Our grateful thanks also to the proprietors of the Belle Vue Hotel for their hospitality in many ways: for altering their normal mealtimes to suit us, for keeping the television off and the bar open, and allowing a comprehensive rearrangement of the dining room for the Council meeting. Finally, I should like to thank all participants of field excursions who made this such an enjoyable and successful meeting.

M.J. WIGGINTON


 

Summer Meeting 1990

Ulster, 1-15 August

The 1990 Irish field meeting was held in the province of Ulster from 1st to 15th August. The first week was spent in Northern Ireland in counties Antrim and Londonderry and the second week in Donegal. It is interesting to note that the first ever Irish BBS meeting was held in Northern Ireland in August 1928 with Belfast as the centre. Since then the six counties have not been formally visited by the Society but they are, nevertheless, relatively 'well-worked', having been fertile hunting ground over many years for the late J.W. and R.D. Fitzgerald, both of whom hailed from this corner of Ireland.

Membership attendance was disappointingly low. Six members were present during the first week: Mr D. Synnott, Dr D. Kelly, Mr P. Hackney, Dr R. Weyl, Dr K. Lewis and Mr P. Martin, the latter being the only member from the British mainland. Dr P. Lightowlers and Mr T. Blockeel attended the second week in Co. Donegal. Some local naturalists with a special interest in bryophytes joined the excursions during the first week and we are indebted to the NI Countryside and Wildlife Branch for supplying useful details on the sites visited. A special tribute must be paid to Donal Synnott for his unfailing inspiration throughout the meeting. Despite an early setback which resulted in a temporary loss of voice and a subsequent dental mishap, he struggled on valiantly, effectively communicating his expertise with a finger in the book, a nod of the head and a wink of the eye.

Participants convened on the evening of 1st August at the Londonderry Arms, Carnlough. In addition to the members mentioned above, Miss M.D.B. Allen and Miss J. Shipp of the Belfast Naturalists' Field Club were present. County Antrim that evening was basking in beautiful sunshine; it was experiencing one of the hottest heat-waves of the century and no rain had fallen for almost a month. Poor bryophytes, we thought! We retired that evening pledging ourselves to pray for a drop of rain. Alas, within a couple of days, our folly was regretted.


The first week in Counties Antrim and Londonderry

2 August, Glenarriff (VC H39; D 2120). Some 12 participants gathered in the car-park at the foot of the Glen on a sweltering hot morning. Glenarriff is the best known of the nine glens of Antrim; it is a deep, wooded gorge of mixed oak woodland through which the river tumbles in a series of cascades over hard basalt rock. The deep shade and wet basic conditions result in a luxuriant growth of bryophytes comparable to the woods of Kerry. A team of experts would doubtless have recorded an impressive list but as it was, the attention of the experts (mostly D. Synnott) was largely devoted to pointing out and identifying specimens for the benefit of less-experienced members. Abundant Jubula hutchinsiae was seen on wet rocks beside the river and we also recorded Blindia acuta, Mnium marginatum, Isopterygium pulchellum, Plagiochila spinulosa, Scapania nemorea, Riccardia multifida, R. chamedryfolia and Metzgeria temperata. Leiocolea heterocolpos, seen here by Jean Paton in 1969, the only known Irish location, was not spotted.

3 August, Garron Plateau (VC H39; D 2620). By the second day a sudden change of weather had occurred and a soft Irish drizzle was falling as the party climbed the steep track to the Garron Plateau. The Garron is a vast expanse of peatland and lakes, sharply delimited on its eastern side by the basalt cliffs of the Antrim coast and commanding uninterrupted views across the North Channel to the western coast of Scotland. It is a remote, inaccessible area of considerable botanical interest with rare vascular plants such as Carex pauciflora (its only Irish station), C. dioica, Spiranthes romanzoffiana, Hammarbya paludosa, Groenlandia densa and a few scattered growths of Cryptogramma crispa, so rare in Ireland. We were expertly guided over this difficult terrain by David Ledsham, a local naturalist and Carexologist with a special interest in the area.

The more noteworthy bryophytes seen were Metzgeria temperata, Splachnum sphaericum, Tetraplodon mnioides, Calliergon sarmentosum, C. giganteum, Thuidium delicatulum, Pleurozia purpurea, Sphagnum compactum, S. contortum, S. cuspidatum, S. girgensohnii, S. magellanicum, S. palustre, S. papillosum, S. subnitens ssp. ferruginea, S. capillifolium, S. russowii, S. auriculatum var. auriculatum and S. tenellum.

4 August, Murlough Bay (VC H39; D 1942) and Fair Head (VC H39; D 1743). Murlough Bay and Fair Head are well-known for their botanical and geological interest. Murlough Bay faces north-east and is enclosed on three sides by steep calcareous cliffs. Fair Head, two miles further north, rises to over 600 feet above sea level; on its coastal side huge columns of dolerite form a vertical precipice, below which a massive boulder scree has developed stretching down to the sea.

The morning was spent exploring the mixed deciduous woodland on the scree slope overlooking Murlough Bay. The more interesting finds here were: Dicranum fuscescens, Grimmia trichophylla var. stirtonii (?), Glyphomitrium daviesii, Barbilophozia floerkei, Bazzania trilobata, Lepidozia cupressina, Plagiochila spinulosa, Riccardia chamedryfolia, Scapania nemorea, S. umbrosa and S. gracilis.

After lunch we took the cliff-top path to Fair Head crossing open moorland with exposed outcrops of glaciated rocks. We were delighted to find Hedwigia integrifolia growing in quantity intermixed with H. ciliata on a rocky outctop close to the cliff edge. Several species of Sphagnum were seen including S. palustre, S. subnitens, S. recurvum var. mucronatum, S. capillifolium, S. tenellum and S. teres. Three members scrambled down the Grey Man's Path to explore the block scree at the base of the cliff, known to harbour subalpine species such as Herbertus aduncus ssp. hutchinsiae, Bazzania tricrenata, Lepidozia pearsonii, Marsupella sprucei and Gymnomitrion concinnatum. Disappointingly, none of these was found but Pohlia muyldermansii* was found on detritus beside the path and abundant Glyphomitrium daviesii was seen on the shaded rock surfaces.

5 August, Craigagh Wood (VC H39; D 2232), Loughareema (VC H39; D 2035), Breen Wood (VC H39; D 1233). Sunday 5 August, was a cold, wet, blustery day and only six participants turned out. The morning was spent in Craigagh Wood, a mixed oak woodland on a steep, rocky slope with a southern aspect overlooking Cushendun. Both species of Hymenophyllum occur here and the bryophyte flora was abundant but lacking in variety. Apart from the usual woodland species the more interesting finds were Bazzania trilobata, Plagiochila spinulosa and a small patch of Lophocolea fragrans.

After lunch we proceeded to Breen Wood stopping en route at Loughareema to examine the muddy bed of the transient body of water, known locally as the 'vanishing' lake. Barbula hornschuchiana, Hygrohypnum luridum, Hypnum lindbergii and Philonotis rigida were soon added to our list. On arrival at Breen the weather had deteriorated sharply. Breen is one of a small number of native oak-woods still extant in the north of Ireland and well worthy of bryological investigation. But a scramble through wet undergrowth and a deluge from above curtailed enthusiasm and we did not tarry long. The following species were noted: Pohlia muyldermansii, Sphagnum quinquefarium, Lejeunea ulicina, Lophocolea fragrans and Metzgeria temperata.

6 August, Magilligan dunes (VC H40; C 6936). No excursion was planned for the morning to allow for moving headquarters from Carnlough to Castelrock in County Londonderry. A brief non-bryological stop was permitted en route at Bushmills on the north Antrim coast to witness the art of fine whiskey distilling. The party re-convened at 1.00 pm and proceeded to Ballymaclary Nature Reserve. Ballymaclary contains the most varied and unspoilt area of the extensive Magilligan Dunes and is not normally accessible to the public. In addition to the usual dune species Thuidium philibertii was seen and the less common T. recognitum and T. abietinum ssp. abietinum as well as ssp. hystricosum. Of special interest, however, was Rhytidium rugosum, unknown from elsewhere in Ireland, but growing in profusion here and covering extensive areas of the dry stabilized dunes. Some of the wetter regions of the extensive dune slacks yielded Drepanocladus sendtneri and contained an abundance of Calliergon giganteum.

7 August, Binevenagh (VC H40; C 6831). Binevenagh is a north-east facing cliff of basalt, 1200 ft high, overlooking Magilligan Strand. Lough Foyle and the Inishowen Peninsula of Donegal. It is a protected area with an arctic-alpine flora containing Saxifraga oppositifolia and Silene acaulis. The party explored the block scree at the base, parts of the cliff face and a deep crevice which extended to the top of the cliffs. Here Donal Synnott found Eremonotus myriocarpus*. It also yielded Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Harpalejeunea ovata, Lejeunea lamacerina, Frullania microphylla and F. fragilifolia. The most noteworthy species seen was Rhytidium rugosum of which a few scattered stems were found on the grassy slopes below the cliff. David Riley proposed a theory to account for its spread from this point to colonise the dunes of Magilligan Strand. Other species of interest were Antitrichia curtipendula and Plagiochila spinulosa.

8 August, Ness Wood (VC H40; C 5211) and Banagher Glen (VC H40; C 6704). The Ness is a deep gorge of mixed, semi-natural, oak woodland with a prominent waterfall and encroaching Rhododendron thicket. The most interesting area was in the vicinity of the waterfall where Peter Martin found a bank of Fissidens celticus*. Also seen were Rhynchostegiella teesdalei, Tetrodontium brownianum, Blasia pusilla, Lophocolea fragrans, Marchesinia mackaii and Nowellia curvifolia.

Banagher Wood near Dungiven is some 12 miles west of the Ness. Banagher is a large native woodland composed of oak, birch and ash with several rivers running through it. It was late afternoon by the time the party reached here and the time available was mainly spent searching the paths and clearings. An abundance of Jungermannia gracillima was seen with quantities of Oligotrichum hercynicum, Phaeoceros laevis, Riccia sorocarpa and Scapania irrigua growing through it.

Thursday 9 August was set aside for moving headquarters to Co. Donegal. Some members paid a visit to the National Trust property at Downhill a little beyond Castlerock. Here they encountered Miss Eccles, eminent plantswoman, gardener and custodian of the domain of the late Earl-Bishop of Derry, and a veritable institution herself. She delighted them with tales of 'Belching Magilligan' and showed them Phaeoceros laevis ssp. laevis growing on her doorstep! Others made their way to Derry City to walk the walls, change money and buy provisions before crossing the border. The party re-convened that evening for dinner at Arnold's Hotel, Dunfanaghy, where we were joined by Philip Lightowlers and Tom Blockeel.

KEITH LEWIS


The second week in County Donegal

The Summer Meeting in Ireland ended with five days based in the village of Dunfanaghy in north Donegal. The county was previously visited by the Society in 1962, and Dunfanaghy was also the base on that occasion. That meeting occupied a full fortnight, and it achieved a good coverage of West Donegal, so that we did not expect to make many surprising discoveries. We were well accommodated at Arnolds Hotel, and we specially looked forward at the end of each day to the excellent and wholesome dinners to be had there. The hotel grounds even obliged with two new vice-county records, Orthotrichum diaphanum on the car park wall, and Dicranella staphylina on bare soil under trees.

Unfortunately, the meeting was not well attended. Only six members were present (Paul Hackney, Keith Lewis, Philip Lightowlers, Peter Martin, Donal Synnott and myself), but we had guidance and support from two local naturalists. Dr. Ralph Forbes from Belfast, who guided us in Glenbheagh, and Ralphe Sheppard from Raphoe.

10 August. This day was devoted to Glenbheagh. Although this valley was visited during the 1962 meeting, a return trip seemed justified because the area is now a National Park. and it contains interesting fragments of Oak and Birch woodland. Unfortunately it is also infested with Rhododendron, and the intractable nature of this problem was obvious to us both in the woodlands and on otherwise bare hillsides covered with extensive and impenetrable thickets. We hoped that Telaranea might turn up by way of compensation but we were not so lucky. In the morning we explored Glenlack near the head of Lough Bheagh. This side valley contains some of the best of the Oak woodland, though none of the lower part that we visited was free of the Rhododendron. At the foot of the valley the trees were covered with the commoner western hepatics, principally Scapania gracilis, Plagiochila spinulosa and P. punctata. Rotting stumps and peaty banks produced T ritomaria exsectiformis, Odontoschisma denudatum, Kurzia trichoclados and Cephalozia catenulata. The rocky stream had plentiful Jubula hutchinsiae and smaller amounts of Hygrobiella laxifolia, Radula aquilegia and Aphanolejeunea microscopica. Also recorded in the vicinity of the stream were Dicranum scottianum and Harpanthus scutatus on boulders, Lepidozia cupressina on rocks and logs, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia on hazel, and Eurhynchium praelongum var. stokesii on the ground.

Later, we looked at the area of bog at the head of Lough Bheagh, but this proved unproductive. There were occasional patches of Pleurozia purpurea, but other species were sparse. Hedwigia ciliata and Ulota hutchinsiae were on boulders at the edge of the bog, and Donal climbed high enough to find Anthelia julacea and Herbertus aduncus ssp. hutchinsiae.

Glenbheagh Castle occupies a spectacular location on the shores of the Lough, and late in the afternoon we returned to look at the woodland above the gardens. Much of our interest, however, was held by the walls and man-made structures. These produced Gyroweisia tenuis, Plagiochila britannica and, on paths and flower beds, Phaeoceros laevis ssp. laevis. A fine flight of stone steps leading up through the woods had been colonised by numerous species, including Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia. In the woodland there were some particularly good patches of Harpanthus scutatus on boulders, and Leptoscyphus cuneifolius on trees. Metzgeria temperata was on ornamental trees near the lough side.

11 August. We decided to devote this day to the Horn Head peninsula immediately to the north of Dunfanaghy. The area held promise of base-rich rock, and there are extensive sand dunes and slacks adjacent. We parked the cars at Claggan, on the south-west of the peninsula and made our way across the ridge of Anloge Hill. Initial indications were good. Funaria obtusa, F. attenuata, Haplomitrium hookeri and Riccia beyrichiana were found at the side of the track leading towards the hill, and Leiocolea cf. bantriensis (sterile) was in a wet flush. Neckera crispa on the rocks held out a promise of rich pickings, but the promise was not really fulfilled. The rocks proved fairly unproductive, though small amounts of Gymnostomum calcareum, Orthotrichum rupestre, Pterogonium gracile, Lophozia excisa and Plagiochila britannica were seen.

After lunch in a field occupied by inquisitive donkeys, we continued south towards the dunes. The route took us across some marshy ground with Plagiomnium ellipticum and Brachythecium mildeanum, to the higher dunes some distance still above sea level. At the edge of the marsh was the most interesting ground of the day, a small but very productive patch of damp sand. Close scrutiny on hands and knees revealed the presence of Distichium inclinatum, Amblyodon dealbatus, Catoscopium nigritum, Thuidium abietinum, Leiocolea badensis and Moerckia hibernica. Though reluctant to leave this excellent place, we felt we had to explore the extensive wet slack at the foot of the dunes. In descending the sandhills, we found Barbula reflexa, Entodon concinnus and Gymnostomum viridulum, the latter forming crusts on stony ground blown clear of sand. The large slack, which contained some standing water, proved to be densely vegetated, with much Scorpidium scorpioides and Calliergon giganteum, but we could not find any more of the damp sand community that we had seen on the higher dunes.

12 August. We decided it was time for a day in the hills. The weather for the next three days was to be changeable, and we feared it might deteriorate. In the event, this was the worst day we could have chosen for the high ground. Persistent dense mist covered the ground above about 300 m. and frustrated our plans. The hills we hoped to climb were Aghla More and Aghla Beg, positioned between the better known Errigal and Muckish, and a little lower than either. Nevertheless there was promise of the northern hepatic mat, and Adelanthus lindenbergianus. Our approach was via the northern end of Altan Lough. We parked the cars near a trout farm, and made for the stream running down from L. Feeane. The boggy ground had much Pleurozia purpurea, and as we ascended the stream we began to encounter small quantities of Herbertus aduncus ssp. hutchinsiae, Bazzania tricrenata, Lepidozia cupressina and Mylia taylorii. Other species included Kurzia trichoclados, Sphenolobus minutus and Tetraplodon mnioides. Eventually we reached the scree below and to the north-west of L. Feeane. The Herbertus and Bazzania were abundant here, but at scarcely 400 m. we were not high enough for the rarer hepatics. The mist was thick, and we thought it unwise to attempt the steep summit slopes, which were covered with sharp, broken quartzite scree. The afternoon proved a bit miserable, partly because of the mist and the disappointment of not reaching the high ground, and partly because of the dreary acid terrain which occupies the middle slopes of these hills. We would have been more cheerful had we known, as it turned out, that we had collected Grimmia atrata new to Ireland, both on the shore of L. Feeane and on the ridge between Aghla More and Aghla Beg, and nearby on the ridge Anthelia juratzkana. Other finds in the same area included Dicranum scottianum, Campylopus schwarzii, Pohlia bulbifera, Ulota hutchinsiae, Racomitrium sudeticum, Jungermannia subelliptica and Hygrobiella laxifolia.

We arrived back at Dunfanaghy relatively early, and Donal and I were keen to make something more of the day by visiting the well-wooded Ards Peninsula. Although much of the forest consists of planted conifers, the trees are mature and attractively interspersed with native species. We stopped at the main car park and walked to the dunes nearby, on the north side of the peninsula. These were much overgrown with coarse grass, but we found Distichium inclinatum, Gymnostomum calcareum and Brachythecium glareosum on a rocky bank with blown sand, and Ulota phyllantha with sporophytes on a scrubby Sycamore. We returned by a track through the woods. Riccardia incurvata was on a piece of disturbed ground by the track, and epiphytes included Harpalejeunea ovata and Cololejeunea minutissima. The lichens were quite spectacular, too.

13 August. Even before the frustrating day on the two Aghlas, there had been talk of an ascent of Muckish, where Adelanthus lindenbergianus and other oceanic-montane hepatics are known to occur. However, Donal was due to leave us at mid-day, and although the cloud cover was higher than it had been, the summit plateau of Muckish was still enshrouded and there did not seem much prospect of the cloud lifting. The morning was therefore spent in coastal habitats on the Rosguill peninsula. No especially rich sites were found, but the list of species seen included Distichium inclinatum, Tortella flavovirens, Barbula reflexa, Thuidium delicatulum, Entodon concinnus and Blepharostoma trichophyllum.

Ballyarr Reserve, east of Kilmacrenan, had been identified as a site with bryological potential, and we moved on to there in the early afternoon. The Reserve is a fine piece of old Oak and Birch wood set in undulating pasture land and it was known to harbour the ferns Hymenophyllum tunbrigense and Dryopteris aemula. We parked in a narrow lane on the north side. Soil by the roadside here produced Dicranella staphylina, Bryum klinggraeffii, B. sauteri and Riccia sorocarpa. To gain entry to the wood, we had to cross a field with much Juncus, where Pseudephemerum nitidum, Pohlia camptotrachela and Fossombronia wondraczekii were growing on damp peaty soil. Bryophytes were luxuriant in the wood, but there were surprisingly few Atlantic species, the most plentiful of these being Plagiochila spinulosa. Not a lot of rock is exposed, but there are several low vertical faces where the Hymenophyllum grows. This habitat produced Lepidozia cupressina and Kurzia sylvatica. Other records included Plagiochila punctata and Metzgeria temperata on Birch trees, Hylocomium brevirostre very fine in the ground flora, and Sphagnum girgensohnii in damp hollows.

14 August. This was the last day of the meeting and most of the party were heading home in the evening. This gave us the opportunity to take in areas in the south of Donegal which involve a very long return journey from Dunfanaghy. Two coastal sites had been identified where ultrabasic rocks outcrop. The first of these was west of Lettermacaward on Gweebarra Bay. The rock here certainly did not advertise its basicity in the composition of the flora, but there was a nice piece of wet ground in one of the pastures with plentiful Anthoceros punctatus, together with Ephemerum serratum var. serratum and Pohlia camptotrachela. The next site was at Sheskinmore Lough, a Reserve on the Rossbeg peninsula noted for its birdlife. As we walked down from the road to the north of the lough, it soon became obvious that this was a better kind of rock. Orthotrichum rupestre, Pterogonium gracile, Reboulia hemispherica, Frullania microphylla and F. tenerif fae turned up before we reached the reserve boundary. Additions by the lough included Fissidens pusillus, Marchesinia mackaii and, in the marsh, Scorpidium scorpioides and Calliergon giganteum. This was a beautiful place and the far side of the lough, backed by sandhills, was enticing. By now, however, it was mid afternoon and we were anxious to visit L. Eske - nearly an hour's drive away - to see what we were assured was the best Oak wood in Donegal. Our records would assist in ensuring protection of this very important wood.

We were not disappointed. We entered the wood by the lane on the west side of the lough. There is a rocky stream here, with abundant Jubula hutchinsiae. There must be traces of base in the rock, since other records on the stream bank included Neckera crispa forming ruffs about the bases of small trees, Rhynchostegiella teesdalei, Blepharostoma trichophyllum, Cololejeunea calcarea and, on damp ground, Trichocolea tomentella. The epiphytic flora was very attractive, and included Leptoscyphus cuneifolius, Plagiochila spinulosa, P. punctata, P. exigua (very fine male plants), Frullania fragilifolia, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Harpalejeunea ovata and a little Aphanolejeunea microscopica. We certainly had no time to do justice to this habitat and only penetrated a little way into it. Further investigation would certainly be rewarding both here and in the ravine to the north of the lough at the base of the Blue Stack mountains.

In his report on the 1962 meeting, Ted Wallace remarked that most of the species likely to be encountered in the north-west of Ireland had now been recorded, and our own experiences confirmed this view. Certainly there are still unexpected finds to be made, and many details of distributions to be filled in. Be that as it may, the landscapes of Donegal are a real pleasure, and for me the biggest joy of all in the torrid summer of 1990 was the moist Atlantic climate!

T. L. BLOCKEEL


 

AGM & Symposium Meeting 1990

Cambridge, 21-23 September


From the outset the Cambridge meeting was intended to be a special memorial event to celebrate two of the Society's most active and long-standing members. Professor Paul Richards and Dr Eustace Jones (Jonah). Between them they had clocked up 127 productive years as members of the Society, as a result of which the bryological world has become the richer.

In recognition of this achievement, all of the papers read on Saturday 22 September had some connection with the bryological interests of either Paul or Jonah. In practice this meant a special emphasis on tropical bryology, a passion they hold in common, and we were pleased to welcome two of our overseas members, Dr Támas Pócs and Dr Rob Gradstein as guest speakers. The Tropical Bryology Group were able to capitalise on this concentration of tropical talent by calling a special workshop meeting in Cambridge on the Friday preceding the AGM.

After short autobiographical talks from Paul and Jonah the meeting heard about the bryological exploration of Africa and the taxonomy and ecology of tropical hepatics. In the afternoon, an ecological investigation of Campylopus introflexus and studies in the changing flora of southern Britain completed the day. Summaries of the papers, written by their authors, are presented below.

The surroundings of Downing College were distinguished and refined, as one would expect of Cambridge, and the weather provided us with a silver mist, for which the city is famed. The meeting was a memorable one, and the arrangements went very smoothly, thanks in no small part to the excellent organisation of the local secretary, Dr Phil Stanley.


Prof P.W. RICHARDS (Cambridge): "My first steps in tropical bryology."

My first step in tropical bryology was when I set foot on Barbados, I August, 1929, on my way to British Guiana (now Guyana) as a member of the Oxford Exploration Club's expedition. In Welshman's Hall Gully I saw some epiphyllous liverworts, but it was not as good a place for bryophytes as Grenada where the ship called the next day.

The expedition set up camp at Moraballi Creek, a small tributary of the Essequibo about 80 km from the coast, on 11 August. With two other botanists, T.A.W. Davis and N.Y. Sandwith, I remained at Moraballi Creek until the end of November, collecting bryophytes, ferns and other cryptogamic plants, as well as working with Davis on the ecology of the rain forest.

My first impressions of the bryophytes were set out in a short paper which Mr H.N. Dixon invited me to give to a small informal meeting of bryologists in London in January 1930. I identified the mosses as well as I could with some help from Mr R.S. Williams of the New York Botanical Garden and published a list of them in the Kew Bulletin 8, 317-337 (1934). My collection of hepatics was sent to Professor A.W. Evans (Yale University, U.S.A.). He identified about half of it and promised to send a list of the rest. He never did so and the specimens must be presumed lost. In 1953 I published 'Notes on the bryophyte communities of lowland tropical rain forest, with special reference to Moraballi Creek, British Guiana' (Vegetatio 5-6,319-328).


Dr E.W. JONES (Kirtlington, Oxfordshire): 'What am I - Botanist, Forester, Physiologist, Ecology or Taxonomist?'

A few personal details which may help to answer the question are recorded in BBS Bulletin 42 (1983). I will add a few more here. I learned to recognise Schistostega pennata in a cave as a very small boy, but made no further progress bryologically until I became a student at Cambridge. Here I became most interested in what grows where and why (i.e. ecology) and as I walked the hills and moors and bogs of the north and west of Britain, where bryophytes are important members of the plant communities, it seemed to me that they had valuable information to give to the student who knew them. With vascular plants help in identification was readily available; with bryophytes one had to be one's own authority.

I chose for my doctoral studies a physiological subject because I believed (and still believe) that physiology should be the basis of ecology and provides a more rigorous discipline than does e.g. 'plant sociology'. I look upon bryophytes as members of living plant communities not as twigs or branches of some hypothetical Phylogenetic tree, and the primary job of the taxonomist as the production of classifications that aid identification of taxa and the prediction of behaviour: he should not upset well-tried practical classifications in order to make them conform with his own Phylogenetic theories.

If I have specialised in the taxonomy of African hepatics it is simply because ecological work has taken me to Africa: I found there a gap which was plugged by disordered and often erroneous information which I was in a better position than most bryologists in 1948 to tidy up.


Dr A.J. HARRINGTON (Natural History Museum, London): 'The bryological exploration of West Africa.'

Three discrete periods can be recognised in the bryological exploration of West Africa. The first of these - the heroic - extended from the end of the eighteenth century to the middle of the nineteenth. Plant collecting at this time was closely associated with exploration, the expansion of commerce and the suppression of the slave trade. The early botanists were beset by difficulties and illness, and it is surprising that they managed to collect as many specimens as they did. Of those who included bryophytes amongst their collections, the following deserve special mention: Palisot de Beauvois (southern Nigeria, 1786-8), Adam Afzelius (Sierra Leone, 1792-6), Mungo Park (?Mali, 1795-7), Theodor Vogel (southern Nigeria and Femando Poó, 1841) and Charles Barter (mostly Nigeria and Fernando Poó, 1857-9).

The German botanist Gustav Mann, who made extensive collections in Cameroon and the islands of the Gulf of Guinea between 1860 and 1863, acts as a link with the second phase of exploration, the period of the resident collector. This extended from c. 1880 to the First World War, and thus coincides with the major period of colonial expansion. Collecting was concentrated in three areas:

  1. Guinea and Senegal, where many specimens were gathered, mostly in the early years of the century, by French army officers and colonial administrators, notably Henri Pobéguin.
  2. Western Cameroon. German and Swedish botanists collected extensively in the area of Cameroons Mountain in the 1890s, prominent amongst them the Swede Per Dusén who, unusually for the time, described several new moss species from his own material.
  3. The islands of the Gulf of Guinea. The Portuguese botanists Moller, Newton and Quintas were active, especially on Sao Tomé and Príncipe, during the 1880s, while the German bryologist Wilhelm Monkemeyer made a small but significant collection on Fernando Póo in 1885.

Collecting continued in the 30 or so years between the second and third periods of exploration, but the collections are mostly small and incidental; important exceptions are those of Auguste Chevalier from various parts of French West Africa, Paul Richards from south-west Nigeria and A.P.D. Jones from Nigeria.

The third period of exploration - the age of the specialist - commenced with the Cambridge Botanical Expedition of 1947-8 and continues to the present day. It is characterised by two features: the leading role played by trained bryologists in fieldwork, and the wealth of taxonomic studies produced. Many of these studies have benefited greatly from the key specimens collected on the Cambridge Expedition, and, more recently, by Eustace Jones and Paul Richards. The period has also witnessed the participation of indigenous botanists in collecting and research, a development vital for the future of bryology in the region.

In spite of more than 200 years of exploration our knowledge of the bryophyte flora of West Africa is still fragmentary and generally poor; some countries remain virtually unexplored (e.g. The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau), while even in comparatively well-worked states such as Nigeria large areas are scarcely known or have not been investigated. Many more field observations and collections are needed before a clear picture of the distribution and ecology of even the common species can be obtained.


Dr T. POCS (Hungarian Academy of Sciences): 'The genus Colura in East Africa.

[Dr Pócs' paper appears in Bulletin 57: 33-39.]


Dr S.R. GRADSTEIN (Institute of Systematic Botany, Utrecht): 'A view at the liverwort flora of tropical America. '

One of the earliest contributions on neotropical hepatics was by Olof Swartz, a Swedish doctor and pupil of Linnaeus, who collected in the West Indies in the late 18th century. Swartz published a comprehensive Flora of the West Indies in which he described about 30 species of liverworts. They are among the earliest names in tropical hepatics.

The first important collector who penetrated into the vast jungles of the Amazon, around 1820, was the German botanist Karl Friedrich Philipp von Martius, a director of the Botanical Garden of Munich. After his travels, Martius devoted the rest of his life to work up his collections and publish Flora Brasiliensis, probably the largest tropical Flora ever written. His Brazilian liverwort collections were studied by Nees von Esenbeck, who described about 70 species, virtually all of them new to science. No doubt the most important 19th century collector of neotropical hepatics was Richard Spruce. Spruce was a Yorkshire man and an amateur botanist who, at the age of 32, decided to travel to South America. He remained there for about 15 years and brought back a huge collection of plants, most of which were studied by others except for the liverworts which Spruce decided to work up himself. Out of this came his Hepaticae of the Amazon and the Andes, which is the most important work that has ever been written on neotropical liverworts. Spruce treated about 600 species, many of which were new to science.

After Spruce many people worked on the liverworts of Tropical America. Probably the most notable contributions were made be Alexander W. Evans from Yale University, who wrote numerous important taxonomic papers on neotropical liverworts in the beginning of this century, and by his student, Margaret H. Fulford from the University of Cincinnati, who is author of the Manual of the Leafy Hepaticae of Latin America.

The neotropical liverwort flora counts about 180 genera and each year about one new genus is being added. The flora has about twice as many genera as Europe and, more significantly, generic endemism is about 25 times higher in the Neotropics! Schuster (1990) believes that the very high rate of liverwort endemism in the area - the highest in the world - is due to the eventful geological history of the region coupled with an extraordinary ecological complexity. I would like to comment, however, that the tropical flora is still very incompletely known and endemic taxa might in fact be more widespread. Examples of neotropical genera recently shown to be more widespread are Arachniopsis (also in Africa), Gymnocoleopsis (also in Africa) and Cladomastigum (=lwatsukia from Asia).

The number of species in the neotropics can be only roughly estimated. Stephani in his Species Hepaticarum listed about 3000 species but my figures from monographs for FLORA NEOTROPICA indicate that there are probably no more than 1200 species. Most parts of Tropical America are still under-explored but some areas are certainly more poorly known than others. Whilst the West Indies have received considerable attention, large parts of the Amazon basin, the table mountains of Guayana and the Pacific coast of northern South America virtually remain terra incognita.

As to habitats, cultivated land, road sides and riverbeds are places of interest for liverworts which have been neglected. For example, the genus Riccia was unknown in the Guianas - one of the relatively better-explored regions in tropical America - until it was recently found to be relatively common in gardens. On bare soil in an oil palm plantation in coastal Ecuador, where vegetation had been removed with herbicides, we found masses of Cyathodium new to the country. Riverbeds contain interesting rheophytic forms such as Myriocolea, Myriocoleopsis, Potamolejeunea and Stenorrhipis which have only rarely been collected.

The habitat most urgently needing more study is the canopy of the tropical lowland rain forest. Dr Schuster has recently repeatedly called attention to the supposed poverty in liverworts of the lowland forest: "students are doomed to terrible disappointment, when first exposed to lowland tropical rainforest. They will miss the innumerable genera...of Hepaticae they have become familiar with in temperate and boreal climate (Schuster, 1988: 241). Over a distance of. about 1000 km along the Amazon he could find no more than 50-60 hepatics and a square kilometre yielded no more than 5-10 species on average.

It should be realised, however, that most collecting in the tropical rain forest has been done at ground level, from tree trunks and fallen branches. Using mountaineering techniques my students have recently inventoried the bryophyte flora of the rain forest canopy in the Guianas, an area where Professor Richards did his classical work on tropical rain forest ecology (Richards, 1952, 1954). The results indicate that a single tree may on average harbour 50 species of bryophytes, the majority of them liverworts (Gradstein et al., 1990). In humid forest almost 100 species of liverworts were found on only 28 trees. The sampling in the tree tops yielded many species new to the region, including taxa that had previously been collected only large distances away. Verdoornianthus griffinii (Lejeuneaceae), for instance, was first described from a tree near Manaus (Brazil) in 1974 and has since been found in forest near Iquitos (Peru) and in French Guiana. The three localities are thousands of miles apart. I would expect that careful sampling of forest canopies in intermediate Amazonian lowland areas will yield many more collections of this and other "rare" species. The liverwort flora of the lowland rain forest certainly cannot be considered poor in species and is in urgent need of study in view of the continuing destruction of the forest.

References

Gradstein, S.R., D. Montfoort, & J.H.C. Cornelissen (1990). Species richness and phytogeography of the bryophyte flora of the Guianas, with special reference to the lowland forest. Trop. Bryol. 2, 117-126.

Richards, P.W. (1952). The Tropical Rain Forest. Cambridge.

Richards, P.W. (1954). Notes on the bryophyte communities of lowland rain forest with special reference to Moraballi creek, British Guiana, Vegetatio5-6, 319-327.

Schuster, R.M. (1988). Ecology, reproductive biology and dispersal of the Hepaticae in the Tropics. J. Hattori Bot. Lab. 64, 237-269.

Schuster, R.M. (1990). Origins of neotropical Leafy Hepaticae. Trop. Bryol. 2, 239-264.


Dr M. EQUIHUA (University of York): 'Campylopus introflexus on the North York Moors National Park. '

Campylopus introflexus was first reported to be spreading in the British Isles by Professor P.W. Richards in 1963. He indicated that the first time this moss had been found in Britain was 1941. He also pointed out that from 1949 onwards it had been reported with increasing frequency from new localities in the British Isles. Professor Richards and Dr A.J.E. Smith in 1975 reported that by then C. introflexus had been found in 440 localities contrasting with the 120 known in 1963. It is now also known in Europe from France, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Norway, Spain and Sweden and is thought to have originated from the temperate regions of the southern hemisphere.

The aim of the present research project on this species in the North York Moors is to explore the effects this moss could have on the moorland vegetation of the National Park. Two main issues were considered: first, how is its distribution related to the vegetation and other environmental factors, and second, what are the effects this moss could have on the recovery of Calluna vulgaris after being burnt or cut.

It was found that C. introflexus is most frequent on loamy stagnopodzols and open Calluna moor where the vegetation is around 18cm tall. It is possible to have a potentially active Calluna seed bank in carpets of C. introflexus; however, the activation of this seed bank can be severely limited by the hydrological balance. The presence of C. introflexus together with a limitation in water supply markedly reduces the germination rate of Calluna seeds. There was no evidence that C.introflexus has an allelopathic effect on the germination of Calluna seeds.

There are a number of management considerations. The moss seems to be promoted by the current management practice. Considering its potential effect on delaying recovery of the moor after heather burning, would it not be sensible to consider possible alternative management procedures? Because Calluna management is dependent on a quick recovery of the mature moor, C. introflexus should be considered a potentially important invasive species, with a potential impact on the local economy. What is the potential economic importance of the species?


Dr E.W. JONES (Kirtlington, Oxfordshire): 'Two hundred years of Oxfordshire bryophytes.'

The first bryophyte flora of Oxfordshire, by John Sibthorp, was published in 1794. Subsequent important accounts of the flora appeared in 1886 (Henry Boswell), 1922 (G.C. Druce) and 1952-5 (E.W. Jones). The number of taxa recorded from the county has increased from 108 in 1794 to 362 in 1990 - an increase due chiefly to the increasing discrimination and facility with which species have been recognised, but dependent on the presence of skilled observers.

The records are much less efficient for indicating losses than gains, but suggest that about 20 species may have become extinct; experience suggests that many more species have declined greatly in abundance and comparison of lists made during the period 1940-50 with lists made from 1970 onwards confirm some of these impressions. Drainage, changing agricultural practices (especially the increased use of fertilizers), changing silvicultural practices and a decline in grazing, especially by rabbits, have all contributed. The decline in frequency of many corticolous bryophytes has long been recognised as a widespread phenomenon and attributed to atmospheric pollution. Some terricolous species may also have declined for this reason.

There have, however, also been gains which are due to increasing frequency of the plants, not to increasing facility of recognition. Two or maybe three of these are riverside plants and may have been favoured either by eutrophication of the water or by regulation of water levels. The remaining species, at least 16 in number, for which an increase can be either proved or suspected, are all acidophile; most grow on wood or bark, but a few grow on earth.

Sibthorp's records suggest that fruit, especially of dioecious species, was produced more freely in the 18th century than it is now. In this, as also in the decline of some corticolous species and the increase of acidophile species, we seem to be seeing the effects of slight but prolonged atmospheric pollution, resulting in the slow but steady acidification of the substrata.

A much more detailed account is being prepared for publication.


Dr J. BATES (Imperial College, Ascot): 'Studies of Berkshire's mosses and hepatics.

A progress report was given eight years into a ten-year flora project in Berkshire (v.-c. 22). Major environmental patterns are imposed by geology, rainfall variations and atmospheric pollution and their effects are seen in the distribution patterns of many species. Dot maps plotted using 5 x 5 km recording units showed the distribution of characteristic riparian, calcifuge, calcicole and epiphytic bryophytes. In the latter group a sequence of examples demonstrated putative differential sensitivities to atmospheric pollution and the importance of rainfall variation (Metzgeria temperata only occurs in the highest rainfall district). Some evidence was presented for an increase in the abundance of epiphytes, notably Orthotrichum stramineum and Ulota phyllantha, with falling SO2 levels. Some bryophytes of arable fields, especially Riccia species, are much rarer than formerly while increases have continued, or are becoming app arent, for Campylopus introflexus, Plagiothecium curvifolium, P. latebricola, Dicranum tauricum, D. montanum, Platygyrium repens and Zygodon conoideus. Lastly, the warm dry climate of Berkshire is emphasised by recent discoveries of Cololejeunea minutissima and Scorpiurium circinatum and the persistence of a sizable population of Pallavicinia lyellii at Silwood Park for at least 20 years.


Following the Annual General Meeting (Minutes in Bulletin 58), there was an evening conversazione at which several demonstrations were staged.

PHILIP LIGHTOWLERS


 

Field Meeting

After the dry summer of 1990 it was impossible to find suitable sites in Cambridgeshire for an excursion, so members travelled to West Norfolk to visit Ringmere. This is one of the 'Breckland meres' and consists of a basin with a fluctuating water level, being full when the water-table of the underlying chalk is high. The water in the mere gradually fell during the summer of 1990 and the mere dried out (for the first time since 1977) shortly before the BBS excursion. Riccia cavernosa proved to be the first species to appear on newly exposed mud, and was locally abundant at higher levels The rare Physcomitrium eurystomum was seen with the commoner P. pyriforme on the dried bed of the mere. The only other bryophyte which grew in quantity at this level was Leptobryum pyriforme.

A reduced party travelled to Grimes Graves for lunch. The grassland was too dry for serious bryologising, but we paid our respects to Rhytidium rugosum. Vegetation stripes reflecting soil patterns of periglacial origin were clearly visible at the fringes of the site.

CHRIS PRESTON


 

Autumn Workshop 1990

Manchester, 9-11 November

Eighteen people (twenty-one registered with three apologies for absence) attended the weekend course on bryophyte photography. Even with three tutors, these numbers were the maximum possible for the practical session.

Despite guidance sent out in advance, it was anticipated that some people might turn up with equipment problems; therefore an informal introductory session was held on Friday evening, and the Saturday sessions started at 10 a.m. to allow an early dash to town to rectify the odd vital omission, or to replace some unsuitable item. The main problems were unsuitable tripods, or problems (both physical and electrical) of connecting the flash to the camera when used out of the camera shoe.

Undoubtedly a major attraction of the course was the chance to see Harold Whitehouse's superb stereophotographs of bryophytes. This was nearly not to be. Harold was first of all plagued by the rail strike, and arrived at the wrong station at the wrong time on Friday night; a misunderstood message via security staff meant that he waited to be collected for over two hours in bad weather with all his equipment, whilst we were still waiting to hear from him. And then on Saturday, just as the stereo slide show started, his projector dropped its transformer onto the cooling fan with an awful noise. However, resourceful students (mainly Ken Adams) soon repaired the machine, and were rewarded with a fitting grand finale to Saturday's lectures.

Earlier that afternoon, Harold had fascinated us with an account of the camera he now used, made from the body of an old Agfa Isola and two lenses from a imslo, plus a lot of ingenuity from his late wife Pat. He also explained how lesser mortals could take and view stereo photographs of bryophytes, using their more ordinary equipment.

The remaining three forty-five minute illustrated lectures (two in the morning and one in mid afternoon) dealt with the subjects: general bryophyte photography, close-up and high magnification photography, and microscope and SEM photography. Each of these was shared between Michael Proctor and myself, who had earlier attempted to coordinate their contributions over the telephone. Perhaps inevitably, this resulted in more than sufficient material, with the result that both morning and afternoon teabreak got lost in the wash, and a rather generous one-and-a-half hour lunchbreak became seriously less. It seems that all the students were either very pleased with the value-added course, or alternatively were very polite. One student was heard to remark that "Saturday had been a most interesting week".

On Saturday evening, almost all the students turned up for an informal and cheerful social evening with wine at the organiser's house, where they could quiz the tutors on individual problems. Harold was persuaded to put out stereo viewers so that students could look at his photographs at leisure.

Sunday morning was spent at Marie Louise Gardens in Didsbury, putting theory into practice. The aim was to leave everyone with a working setup that would at least enable them to take reasonable life- size photographs of bryophytes in the field, without too much trouble. The key seemed to be the little close-up flash calculator dial, which most students requested, and which is being published (with instructions) in J. Bryol. 16(3), June 1991. Sunday afternoon was spent back in the University laboratory, to discuss high-magnification work and much else as well, before the course dispersed.

Much more time was needed, and perhaps an extended course might be considered for the future.

Tutors: Dr Harold L.K. Whitehouse, Dr Michael C.F. Proctor, and Dr Sean R. Edwards (local organiser).

SEAN EDWARDS

 

 
 
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