BBS > Activities > Meetings and Workshops > Previous > 1994
Meetings of the BBS - 1994
Weymouth, March 24 - 30
The spring meeting was based at Weymouth, on the Dorset coast. We were comfortably lodged in the Hotel Norfolk, which is situated on the Esplanade, with splendid views of the sands and of ships approaching Portland Harbour. All excursions were in Dorset (v.-c. 9).
THURSDAY 24 MARCH
Bracketts Coppice (31/50)
Melbury Park (31/50)
FRIDAY 25 MARCH
Stokeford Heath (30/88)
Briants Puddle Heath and Oakers Wood (30/89)
SATURDAY 26 MARCH
Wool Heath near Clouds Hill (30/89)
Creech Heath (30/98)
Knowle Hill and Stonehill Down (30/98)
SUNDAY 27 MARCH
Valley of Stones (30/58) and Hardy's Cottage (30/79)
Kingcombe Meadows (30/59)
MONDAY 29 MARCH
Ringstead Bay and White Nothe (30/78)
TUESDAY 30 MARCH
Maiden Castle (30/68)
Clouds Hill revisited (30/89) and Briantspuddle (30/89)
Lulworth Cove (30/87)
Dorset is a relatively well-worked county, and it was pleasant to make new vice-county records of six species and two varieties. Several members were sorry to miss Lophocolea bispinosa, but Fossombronia incurva and Riccardia incurvata were good substitutes. The meeting had an average attendance, with 32 bryologists in the field on the Saturday and four others joining excursions on other days.
We were helped by many people. It is a particular pleasure to record the guidance given by the local botanists Bryan Edwards, David Pearman and Robin Walls; by Richard Squires, keeper of the deer at Melbury Park; by Tim Linnington, Environmental Manager of ARC South Western; and, before the meeting, by Humphry Bowen (Winterborne Kingston), Lt-Col. A. Gordon-Hall (RAC Centre, Bovington Camp) and Jonathan Pitt (Unit Manager, ARC South Western). Finally I thank the land owners and land agents, who gave permission to visit their land.
Vice-county records resulting from the meeting
The Burren, 14-19 July
About a dozen members assembled at Ballyvaughan, County Clare (v.-c. H9), on the evening of Wednesday 13 July. We welcomed Gerard Dirkse and Sophie Hochstenbach from Nijmegen in the Netherlands. It had been an almost cloudless day but, ominously, the sun accompanied by a mock-sun set into a bank of cloud over the Atlantic.
THURSDAY 14 JULY
Black Head (v.-c. H9, 12/11)
Fanore (v.-c. H9, 12/10)
FRIDAY 15 JULY
Mullaghmore (v.-c. H9, 11/39)
In the afternoon we explored the hazel scrub at the western end of Watts' Lough. It was extremely rich in epiphytes, particularly Lejeuneaceae: Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Harpalejeunea ovata, Lejeunea lamacerina and L. patens. The Drepanolejeunea was often epiphytic on other bryophytes. Ulota calvescens was abundant on the hazel branches. It was astonishing to see Neckera crispa in abundance extending 1 m up the hazels and sometimes associated with Tortella tortuosa in this habitat! Tortella densa was found by Nick Hodgetts on a block of limestone on the open limestone pavement.
In total, 58 mosses and 17 liverworts were recorded in the region south of Mullaghmore during the day.
Poulawack (v.-c. H9, 11/29)
SATURDAY 16 JULY
Garryland Wood (v.-c. H15, 12/40)
Coole Park (v.-c. H15, 12/40)
SUNDAY 17 JULY
Valley of the Boleyneendorish River in the Slieve Aughty mountains
(v.-c. H15, 12/50)
Punchbowl south of Gort (v.-c. H15, 12/40)
MONDAY 18 JULY
Inisheer, Aran Islands (v.-c. H9, 02/90)
Lough Inchiquin (v.-c. H9, 11/28)
Lough George (v.-c. H9, 11/39)
Lough Cullaun near Rinroe House (v.-c. H9, 11/39)
Lough Briskeen (v.-c. H15, 12/40)
TUESDAY 19 JULY
Carran (v.-c. H9, 11/29)
Glen of Clab (v.-c. H9, 12/20)
Cappaghmore (v.-c. H15, 12/30)
After the rain on the first day, the weather had been dry for the rest of the week. A feature of the bryophyte flora that particularly impressed us was the richness of the calcareous fens. Chris Preston pointed out the rarity of saxicolous plants, such as species of Orthotrichum and Seligeria, and the absence of thin soil around rocks where Pottia species might have been expected. The bryophytes recorded during the week amounted to 195 mosses and 77 liverworts.
We are all most grateful to Donal Synnott who made all the necessary arrangements. I thank Tom Blockeel, Nick Hodgetts, David Long, Jean Paton, Ron Porley, Chris Preston and Rod Stern for their help in preparing this report.
Clifden, 20-26 July
The second week of the summer meeting was based in Clifden in Connemara, West Galway. It had been arranged as a joint meeting with the Nordic Bryological Society, and we were pleased to welcome Arne Pedersen and Sven Drangard from Norway, and Thomas Homm from Germany. Gerard Dirkse and Sophie Hochstenbach transferred with us from the Burren but were due to depart in the middle of the week. The Irish contingent (Donal) was strengthened after three days by the arrival of Daniel Kelly and Robert Bowen. There were nine of us from across the Irish Sea. The numbers would have been greater, but sadly Nick Hodgetts and his party (Ron Porley and Rod Stern) had to leave unexpectedly when Nick's wife was taken ill on the transfer day.
All the excursions were in West Galway (v.-c. H16), except for the trip to Clare Island, which is in West Mayo (H27). A bit of extra-curricular bryologising in Clifden itself one evening produced Barbula trifaria* on calcareous rubble in a small roadside shrubbery.
WEDNESDAY 20 JULY (transfer day)
Donal had recommended Kylemore Abbey as a suitable venue for the transfer day. The gullies on the south-facing hillside near the Abbey were known to be rich in oceanic bryophytes, although they are severely choked by extensive Rhododendron thickets. We hoped that many species might be refound. John Blackburn and myself were the first to arrive, and we spent a short time working a gully well to the east of the Abbey, on the north side of Kylemore Lough. This produced Lepidozia cupressina, Hygrobiella laxifolia, Radula voluta (in small quantity), Jubula hutchinsiae, Frullania microphylla, Aphanolejeunea microscopica, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia and Harpalejeunea ovata. The most exciting find, however, was Lejeunea hibernica growing in pure patches on the under surface of an inclined rock wall by the stream. This is apparently the first report of L. hibernica at Kylemore since its original discovery here in 1933. Back at the foot of the gully, a short foray on the shores of Kylemore Lough duly produced Haplomitrium hookeri.
Most of the other cars had arrived by midday, and we proceeded to work the area near the western end of the Lough. One of our main objectives was Telaranea nematodes, and this was eventually found in at least two places under the Rhododendron, but not in very great quantity. Lophocolea fragrans was on living and fallen branches of Rhododendron, and Fissidens celticus on bare soil. A densely shaded gully had abundant Jubula hutchinsiae, with some Marchesinia mackaii and Oxystegus hibernicus. In another gully Nick Hodgetts found a bit more Lejeunea hibernica and some L. holtii. The various other records included Anthoceros husnotii, Bazzania trilobata, Lepidozia cupressina, Plagiochila killarniensis, P. punctata, P. exigua, Frullania teneriffae, Diphyscium foliosum, Fissidens taxifolius ssp. pallidicaulis and Hygrohypnum luridum.
Later in the week, on 25 July, David Long, Gordon Rothero and I returned to Kylemore to continue the investigation. Lejeunea hibernica was found in two further places in the eastern gully, and Plagiochila exigua and Colura calyptrifolia were also noted here. Most of our time, however, was spent in a gully to the west of the Abbey. A waterfall at the base was only lightly shaded and it had a fair quantity of Radula voluta and Plagiochila exigua, with P. killarniensis, P. punctata, Radula aquilegia and some more Lejeunea hibernica. The deeply shaded parts of the gully, under Rhododendron, were dominated by Jubula hutchinsiae.
Mature planted trees by the track from the Abbey had some good epiphytes, including Zygodon conoideus and Homalia trichomanoides. Pleuridium acuminatum was on a tree root, and Phaeoceros laevis ssp. laevis on the site of a bonfire, with Bryum rubens.
It was gratifying to find that much of interest remains at Kylemore. Lejeunea hibernica appears able to tolerate quite dense shading, but L. flava, which we failed to refind, may now have been lost. Jean Paton saw this species near the western end of Kylemore Lough in 1968, but the track was more open than she remembered it, and it is possible that the clearing of shrubs may have caused a temporary loss of humidity.
THURSDAY 21 JULY: Benbreen, The Twelve Bens
Our first day on the Twelve Bens involved an approach via Glencoaghan to the south. We were able to drive a good distance up the valley, to a hamlet below the SW slopes of Derryclare. From there we could look across the boggy valley to the imposing summits of Benbreen and the adjacent hills. The weather was ideal for a day in the hills, being overcast but dry, with good visibility. Our route took us across the boggy valley to the corries to the north-east and south-east of Benbreen. Racomitrium affine* and Hypnum lindbergii were noted near the hamlet, and Pleurozia purpurea soon turned up on the boggy ground. The party soon fragmented. One group was content to work the southern corrie. The second, more ambitious, group made for the northern corrie, with the intention of crossing into the southern corrie via the summit of Benbreen. Wet crags below and on the shoulder of the ridge running east of Benbreen produced Adelanthus decipiens, in thoroughly wet crevices, Rhabdoweisia crenulata, Campylopus setifolius, C. schwarzii and Dicranodontium uncinatum.
The problems of overgrazing were evident during our ascent: in one small area of block scree the heather was badly damaged but we were still able to find a little Bazzania pearsonii and Adelanthus lindenbergianus among the more plentiful Herbertus aduncus. We were scarcely prepared, however, for the devastation which awaited us in the northern corrie. Here, on the stony north-facing slope, a few broken fragments of heather and the dead remains of large Herbertus tussocks bore sombre witness to the destruction of the dwarf shrub heath which once clothed these slopes. We could find only small and sorry pieces of A. lindenbergianus, with a little Bazzania tricrenata and B. pearsonii. Herbertus aduncus had fared slightly better. The Adelanthus must have been plentiful here only a few years ago. Several people observed that the overstocking with sheep has been precipitated and encouraged by EEC subsidies.
Most of the group which reached this corrie proceeded to complete the ascent of Benbreen, from where there were spectacular views of the Connemara bogs and the distant coast. The descent to the southern corrie was steep; the first group had of course been there for some time. The most interesting ground was on the north-facing slope, where there were some wet crags and two deeply incised gullies. Most of the species seen in the first corrie (except A. lindenbergianus) were also here. Additional species included plentiful Metzgeria temperata and a little Leptoscyphus cuneifolius on rock walls. Riccardia latifrons, Anthelia julacea, Lepidozia cupressina, Kurzia sylvatica, Calypogeia azurea, Lophozia opacifolia*, Lophocolea fragrans, Plagiochila killarniensis, P. spinulosa, P. punctata, Cephalozia leucantha, Odontoschisma denudatum, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Aphanolejeunea microscopica, Sphagnum molle, Dicranum scottianum, Tetraplodon mnioides, Pohlia elongata, Calliergon sarmentosum and Plagiothecium denticulatum var. obtusifolium* (the complanate form) were recorded in various habitats. Ditrichum heteromallum and Pohlia muyldermansii were on mineral soil. The best find of the day, however, was Acrobolbus wilsonii*, found by Jean Paton on a relatively exposed rock face at ca. 460 m, apparently the highest location in which this species has ever been found in the British Isles. On the descent from the corrie, Harpanthus scutatus and Anastrepta orcadensis were found under heather.
FRIDAY 22 JULY: Roundstone
Roundstone is famous for its rare plants, not least the Irish heaths and the interesting aquatic flora of the lough margins. It is also noted for three recent bryophyte discoveries of very great interest: the only Irish station outside the Burren for Calliergon trifarium, the sole Irish record of Leptobarbula berica at Letterdife House, and an enigmatic record of Myurium hochstetteri, from a streamlet near Roundstone. We had all these in mind during our visit.
Our route took us from Roundstone over the eastern saddle of Errisbeg to the low hills near L. Bollard. We were fortunate to have the expert guidance of Mary O'Connor, who is involved in research work on the ecology of the Connemara bogs. The area is one of open heath and bog, with numerous low crags and boulders. The heath and bog produced Kurzia pauciflora, K. sylvatica, Cephalozia catenulata, Cladopodiella fluitans, Pleurozia purpurea, Sphagnum imbricatum ssp. austinii, S. magellanicum, S. strictum, Campylopus brevipilus, C. atrovirens var. falcatus (looking very different from the usual straight-leaved form), Splachnum ampullaceum, Tetraplodon mnioides, Calliergon sarmentosum and Scorpidium scorpioides. It was the rocks, however, which prompted the most diligent searching. There are outcrops of basic gabbro, and the area has two notable ferns, Asplenium septentrionale and Adiantum capillus-veneris, both of which Mary was able to locate for us. This was quite an achievement in the case of the Adiantum, as the few fronds grow deep in a recess at ground level. This explained the attitude of supplication that various members were seen to adopt at this spot. The bryophytes on the rocks included a good quantity of Glyphomitrium daviesii, and a substantial list of other species: Gymnomitrion crenulatum, Plagiochila killarniensis, Scapania compacta, Porella obtusata, Frullania fragilifolia, F. teneriffae, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Harpalejeunea ovata, Colura calyptrifolia, Campylopus polytrichoides, Grimmia donniana*, Racomitrium sudeticum, Hedwigia ciliata and Pterogonium gracile.
From L. Bollard, where the flowering plants distracted many from the bryophytes, we made the short trek to L. Nalawney, recording Sphagnum contortum en route. L. Nalawney is a small lake at the northern foot of Errisbeg. A few of us made a circuit of the lough and were able to see Calliergon trifarium and Sphagnum platyphyllum on the northern side, in a wet lawn of Eleocharis and Rhynchospora fusca. Most of the group, however, were content to search the small stream running into the lough from Errisbeg. This was a rare habitat, as the stream ran beneath bushes of Erica erigena. Many small Lejeuneaceae were seen here, including L. hibernica. There was also a little Jubula hutchinsiae in a recess in a small waterfall. Somewhat higher on Errisbeg, Radula lindenbergiana* was found growing with Harpalejeunea in a fissure in a large boulder.
Late in the afternoon we were invited to take tea at Letterdife House, where Mary was staying. This gave Harold Whitehouse the opportunity to look for Leptobarbula. On arrival, I was immediately responsible for raising premature hopes with a patch of what proved to be immature Barbula rigidula. Later, Harold made a further search but this too was unsuccessful. He did however turn up Tortula marginata*.
Meanwhile, David Long had left the main party at midday to walk along the coast to Gorteen Bay in search of Myurium. The ground was interesting and records included Riccia beyrichiana, Plagiochila killarniensis, Scapania compacta, Porella obtusata, Frullania fragilifolia, F. teneriffae, Campylopus brevipilus, C. polytrichoides, Gymnostomum recurvirostrum, Schistidium maritimum, Ulota hutchinsiae and Hedwigia ciliata. The Myurium was not to be found, however, and it remains an enigmatic member of the Irish flora.
SATURDAY 23 JULY: Muckanaght
Our second assault on the Twelve Bens was from the north, via Glencorbet to Muckanaght. Once again we were favoured with good weather. Donal arranged transport for us up the rough track along the valley of the Kylemore River, and this saved us some time but not much by way of altitude. The wait for the party to assemble, by a hamlet off the main road, allowed time for some bryologising on a patch of disturbed gravelly ground. This proved to be rich, with Haplomitrium hookeri, Atrichum tenellum*, Pohlia bulbifera and P. muyldermansii.
The main walk began by a farmhouse near the Kylemore River, and progress was slow initially as the ground was attractive. Haplomitrium hookeri was found again, and other records included Blasia pusilla, Leiocolea alpestris, L. bantriensis, Jungermannia exsertifolia ssp. cordifolia, Pohlia drummondii and Rhynchostegium lusitanicum* (the latter in the Kylemore River).
It was at this point that there occurred an event which must be unique in the annals of the BBS. Several members became involved in the rescue of a cow which had become lodged in a trench. The beast was eventually freed, but it had suffered a prolapse and was in poor condition. Later in the day, however, we learned that it had made a good recovery, after veterinary attention.
This excitement delayed the arrival of many members on the higher ground, but there was still time to work the wet crags on the northern and eastern slopes of Muckanaght. There is quite a lot of basic ground here, particularly on the crag on the northern side, where there is also some calcareous scree. The crags on the north-east slopes are very wet in part, and also mildly basic. A long list of interesting species was compiled in these areas. Of the large oceanic-montane hepatics Herbertus aduncus, Pleurozia purpurea and Bazzania tricrenata were predictable, but we also saw some good patches of Bazzania pearsonii and scattered stems of Scapania ornithopodioides. Equally, some lowland species ascend to considerable altitudes in this hyperoceanic part of the British Isles. Marchesinia mackaii, for example, was seen on the main crags at ca. 500m. The numerous other species seen on this interesting mountain included Preissia quadrata, Blepharostoma trichophyllum, Jungermannia subelliptica, Lophozia opacifolia, Leiocolea alpestris, Anastrepta orcadensis, Sphenolobopsis pearsonii, Eremonotus myriocarpus, Gymnomitrion obtusum, Marsupella sprucei, Plagiochila spinulosa, P. punctata, Hygrobiella laxifolia, Scapania aspera, Radula aquilegia, Frullania teneriffae, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Colura calyptrifolia, Cololejeunea calcarea, Aphanolejeunea microscopica, Seligeria recurvata, Dicranodontium uncinatum, Campylopus setifolius, C. schwarzii, Anoectangium aestivum, Gymnostomum recurvirostrum, Leptodontium recurvifolium, Racomitrium ellipticum, Isothecium myosuroides var. brachythecioides, Orthothecium intricatum, Isopterygium pulchellum and Ctenidium molluscum var. condensatum.
SUNDAY 24 JULY: Clare Island
Clare Island was the subject of an intensive study in 1909-1911 by the Royal Irish Academy, and it is currently being re-surveyed. Donal was therefore keen for us to make a contribution to the bryology. The island is in Co. Mayo (H27), and it involves a long drive from Clifden, as well as a sea crossing. Some members were apprehensive about the journey. However the roads were quiet early on a Sunday morning, and Donal had arranged a boat for us at 10 o'clock. We were able to fit in a good five hours bryology and the day was a great success.
Donal organised us into several groups. Jean Paton, John Blackburn, Thomas Homm and I worked the eastern end of the island. We took the green lane from the old village school to a knoll on the eastern end of Knockaveen. After rounding this knoll we followed the steep north slope of the main hillside westwards to an interesting base-rich crag, eventually returning via a cut-over bog to the green lane. Diligent recording produced an impressive list of 160 taxa. The green lane had Riccia subbifurca, Blasia pusilla, Fossombronia pusilla, Scapania scandica, Archidium alternifolium, Pleuridium acuminatum, Pohlia drummondii and Hypnum lindbergii. A rock outcrop on the knoll had Dicranum scottianum, and Barbilophozia attenuata was on a hummock by a stony flush. The steep north-facing slope had stepped turfy ledges formed of intricate patches of Hymenophyllum wilsonii, Lepidozia cupressina, Mylia taylorii, Scapania gracilis and many other bryophytes. Notable among these were Barbilophozia floerkei and Cephalozia leucantha.
The base-rich crag looked attractive from a distance and lived up to expectations. Notable here was Radula carringtonii in a relatively exposed habitat on north-facing rocks. Other species included Leiocolea turbinata, Tritomaria quinquedentata, Plagiochila killarniensis, Radula aquilegia, R. lindenbergiana, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Marchesinia mackaii, Cololejeunea calcarea*, Colura calyptrifolia, Eucladium verticillatum, Gymnostomum calcareum, Plagiobryum zierii and Anomodon viticulosus. Below the crag Jean demonstrated Marsupella funckii on a stony track, and there were Riccardia latifrons, Kurzia pauciflora, Mylia anomala and Odontoschisma denudatum on the boggy ground.
Donal himself, David Long and Gordon Rothero worked the great cliffs of Knockamore on the north coast. Gordon turned up one of the best finds of the day, Geocalyx graveolens in a peaty hollow. He also recorded Leptoscyphus cuneifolius, Scapania scandica, Radula carringtonii, R. aquilegia, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Harpalejeunea ovata, Cololejeunea calcarea, Frullania teneriffae and Weissia perssonii. David worked some ground lower down and added Preissia quadrata, Herbertus aduncus, Bazzania tricrenata, Anastrepta orcadensis, Colura calyptrifolia, Diphyscium foliosum and Isothecium myosuroides var. brachythecioides. On the cliffs below Knockamore he recorded Fossombronia angulosa (in a gully), Blepharostoma trichophyllum, Leiocolea turbinata and L. alpestris.
After we boarded the boat for the crossing to the mainland, shower clouds descended over Clare Island. During the blustery crossing, with gannets above our heads, we were able to reflect on our good fortune on another favourable and productive day in such an excellent place.
MONDAY 25 JULY: Ballynahinch and Mannin Peninsula
This proved to be a wet morning, the worst of the week, but the weather improved after midday. Ballynahinch Castle is located on the shore of its eponymous lough, and it is surrounded by estate woodland. There was reputed to be some old oak woodland, too. However, the woodland was not especially rich. Fruiting Diphyscium foliosum drew much admiration, and other species included Preissia quadrata, Jungermannia obovata, Plagiochila killarniensis, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Marchesinia mackaii, Orthotrichum anomalum, Homalia trichomanoides, Anomodon viticulosus, and by the lough Fontinalis antipyretica var. gigantea* and Radula voluta. Ephemerals included Fossombronia pusilla and Riccia glauca.
Gordon Rothero, David Long and I formed a splinter group and went in search of ravines. We spent a very wet morning by the Bunowen River below Tullyconor Bridge on the south side of Killary Harbour. The oak woodland had looked promising from a distance, but proved rather disappointing in the event. Bazzania trilobata, Jungermannia paroica, Plagiochila spinulosa, P. punctata, Adelanthus decipiens, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Harpalejeunea ovata, Aphanolejeunea microscopica, Leucobryum juniperoideum, Hygrohypnum luridum, H. eugyrium and Hypnum callichroum were among the species recorded. At midday, we abandoned this place and moved on to the slightly drier ground at Kylemore Abbey, as reported above.
The official venue for the afternoon was on the Mannin Peninsula, near Ballyconneely. The coastal habitats included dunes with some rock outcrops, overgrown slacks, and short slope on turf near the sea. These places produced Distichium inclinatum, Tortula ruraliformis, Barbula reflexa, Tortella nitida, Plagiomnium ellipticum, Orthotrichum anomalum, Brachythecium albicans, Entodon concinnus and Moerckia hibernica, the latter found by Phil Stanley in short turf close to the sea. Petalophyllum ralfsii was also recorded, but it was not detected until after the meeting, among material of Moerckia collected by Jean Paton. Harold Whitehouse turned up Ditrichum cylindricum, Dicranella staphylina and other ruderals.
TUESDAY 26 JULY: Derryclare Wood and Lough Fee
Derryclare Wood is probably the finest surviving fragment of deciduous woodland in Connemara. Fortunately it is now protected as a Reserve, and it is free of Rhododendron. Situated on gently sloping ground by Derryclare Lough, it is surrounded by forestry plantation and is therefore protected from grazing. The underlying rock is quite strongly basic.
We entered the wood at the northern end, over some furrowed forestry land. Polytrichum longisetum* was on the exposed peat. Most members worked the inner parts of the wood, moving southwards towards a stream at the far end. David Long soon turned up Cryptothallus mirabilis under Sphagnum, and this was subsequently found in at least two further places in the wood. In digging for the Cryptothallus, David also turned up another surprise, the 'truffle' Hydnotrya confusa Spooner, new to Ireland!
Species recorded on trees and rocks included Plagiochila spinulosa, P. killarniensis, P. punctata, Cephalozia catenulata, Porella arboris-vitae, Frullania teneriffae, Harpalejeunea ovata, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Marchesinia mackaii, Colura calyptrifolia, Mnium stellare*, Ulota drummondii*, Pterogonium gracile, Homalia trichomanoides, Eurhynchium pumilum and Orthothecium intricatum. Lophocolea fragrans and Jubula hutchinsiae were found by the stream, and Trichocolea tomentella in a small flush nearby. Some of the best ground was in the lower parts of the wood, at the loughside, but most of the party did not arrive there until the end of the morning. Gordon Rothero, who had made straight for the lough margins, found Leiocolea bantriensis, Scapania aspera, Porella obtusata, Radula voluta, Lejeunea holtii, Fissidens taxifolius ssp. pallidicaulis, Zygodon baumgartneri* and Campylium chrysophyllum. There were some magnificent stands of Climacium dendroides.
This was the last day of the meeting, and some of us had to leave at midday for the journey home. The reduced party moved on in the afternoon to L. Fee and L. Muck. Gravelly ground by L. Fee produced Haplomitrium hookeri and Pohlia drummondii. Stream gullies and the adjacent slopes above the lough had Preissia quadrata, Jungermannia paroica, Plagiochila killarniensis, P. punctata, P. exigua, Harpalejeunea ovata, Marchesinia mackaii, Colura calyptrifolia, Fissidens taxifolius ssp. pallidicaulis, Anoectangium aestivum, Oxystegus hibernicus and Calliergon sarmentosum. Several people reached the higher ground on Barrlugwaum and Benchoona, and recorded Bazzania tricrenata, Lepidozia pearsonii*, Herbertus aduncus, Anthelia julacea, Campylopus setifolius, Leptodontium recurvifolium, Glyphomitrium daviesii, Isothecium myosuroides var. brachythecioides and Ctenidium molluscum var. condensatum. Other records included Blasia pusilla, Gymnomitrion crenulatum, Lepidozia cupressina, Jungermannia subelliptica, Tritomaria quinquedentata, Adelanthus decipiens, Hygrobiella laxifolia, Pleurozia purpurea, Jubula hutchinsiae, Harpalejeunea ovata, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Diphyscium foliosum and Seligeria recurvata. Jean Paton found both Fossombronia husnotii and F. foveolata by L. Muck.
So ended another memorable Irish Meeting. At least 350 bryophytes were recorded during the second week, and we all left, I am sure, with abiding memories. BBS members are not always easy to organise, and our great thanks are due to Donal for all his efforts and for conducting us through the week with his usual good humour.
The rural setting of the Field Studies Council's headquarters at Preston Montford, near Shrewsbury, provided very pleasant surroundings for the AGM and paper-reading meeting. Members were particularly impressed by the gargantuan carp in the pond. The meeting this year was a special occasion, because it was partly a celebration of the 80th birthday of one of the Society's most senior members, Dr Eric Watson. The central event of the weekend was a dinner in Eric's honour on Saturday night, complete with birthday cake. As well as giving a superb talk earlier in the day, Eric entertained the assembled bryological throng with an after-dinner speech that brought tears of appreciative laughter to the eyes. The characteristic efficiency with which Dr. Martha Newton organised the meeting, made it a great success. My thanks to all the speakers at the meeting for an excellent collection of talks. The following summaries have been provided by the authors.
Prof. F. Sack (Ohio State University): 'The bigger they are, the harder they fall: gravity and mosses.'
Gravity affects mosses in many ways:
Evolution and Plant Mass: Mosses lack the evolutionary specialisations that enable larger land plants to withstand the significant compaction produced by their mass.
Development: There are some reports of gravity influencing development such as where side branches emerge in protonemata. More examples would undoubtedly be found if they were sought out.
Gravitropism: Gametophores and sporophytes are usually gravitropic and this is probably adaptive e.g. for spore dispersal. Protonemata, which germinate from the spore, are gravitropic as well, but not well studied. We studied gravitropism in protonemata of Ceratodon which grow up in the dark. Both gravitropic sensing and differential growth (curvature) occur in or close to the tip of the apical cell, and tip growth is tightly coupled to tip orientation. In horizontal protonemata, there is extensive sedimentation of amyloplasts in a specific zone located behind the apical dome. This sedimentation could function in gravitropic sensing since it precedes upward curvature. This hypothesis is also supported by data from centrifugation experiments.
In upward curving cells, microtubules become enriched in the lower flank of the Golgi zone behind the apical dome. We hypothesise that amyloplast sedimentation induces an enrichment in microtubules that results in upward growth. The ultrastructure of horizontal and vertical cells was compared quantitatively. It was found that each organelle is located in its characteristic distribution and that Golgi stacks are abundant where microtubules become enriched. But no effect of horizontal placement on organelle distribution could be detected. Also, unlike microtubules, microfilaments did not appear to change distribution. Thus, the mechanisms of sensing and differential growth are still uncertain.
Evolution and cytoskeleton: Some amyloplast sedimentation also occurs in vertical cells, but sedimentation is not complete except when protonemata are treated with microtubule inhibitors. This suggests that the cytoskeleton evolved, in part to prevent the stratification of organelles with respect to their densities.
Dr A.J.E. Smith (University of Wales, Bangor): 'The Hypnum cupressiforme aggregate in the British Isles.'
The members of the Hypnum cupressiforme aggregate have been variously treated by different authors, from those who regard them as only forms or varieties of H. cupressiforme to others regarding them as distinct species. This variable treatment is due in part at least to lack of familiarity or misunderstanding brought about by inadequate or misleading descriptions and illustrations.
Examination of more than 500 mainly British and Irish specimens and analysis of seven characters revealed clearly that there are eight to a greater or lesser extent well-defined taxa. There is no one character that can be used to separate all the taxa, indeed what are good characters for determining one taxon may be of little or no use for determining others.
On the basis of a combination of gametophyte and sporophyte characters seven of the taxa are sufficiently distinct to be treated as species and one, less clear cut, as a variety. These are H. andoi A.J.E. Smith (H. mammillatum (Brid.) Loeske, nom. inval.), H. cupressiforme Hedw. s.s., H. jutlandicum Holmen & Warncke, H. imponens Hedw., H. lacunosum (Brid.) Hoffm. var. lacunosum, H. lacunosum var. tectorum (Brid.) Frahm, H. resupinatum Wils. and H. uncinulatum Jur.
From about 1850 onwards in the British Isles and elsewhere, H. lacunosum var. lacunosum and var. tectorum have been confused to such an extent that recent authors (e.g. Smith, 1978; Düll, 1985) have treated them as synonymous; only Watson (1981) has recognised them as distinct.
Ando (1992) recognises H. cupressiforme var. filiforme Brid. but says it does not occur in the British Isles, which is curious since Warburg (1963) records it from 105 British and Irish vice-counties. The variety is very slender with parallel branches and straight leaves, at variance with the descriptions in Dixon & Jameson (1924) and Nyholm (1954-1969), which after examination of material led me (Smith, 1978) to reduce var. filiforme to synonymy with the plant then known as H. mammillatum Brid. Examination of some 110 specimens labelled var. filiforme revealed that they were a random assortment of slender forms of H. andoi, H. cupressiforme s.s. and H. resupinatum. Like Ando (1992), I have seen no British material of var. filiforme.
Following the examination of further characters it is intended in due course to publish a liberally illustrated paper on the H. cupressiforme aggregate in the British Isles. In the meantime, a provisional key to the taxa is given below.
Provisional key to the taxa of the Hypnum cupressiforme aggregate
Ando H. 1992. Studies on the genus Hypnum Hedw. (VIII). Hikobia
Prof. J.G. Duckett (Queen Mary & Westfield College, London) and Mr H.W. Matcham (Chichester): 'Gemmiferous protonemata; an overlooked dimension in the reproductive biology of mosses.'
Whereas descriptions of diaspores, produced by leafy gametophores and underground rhizoids, are based largely on wild materials and are a standard feature in moss floras, those of protonemal gemmae (defined as propagules produced on above ground chloronemal filaments and possessing specific liberation mechanisms (Duckett & Ligrone, 1992) derive almost exclusively from cultured specimens and are rarely mentioned in these texts. Detailed scrutiny of the literature indicates that in only twenty species, from the 119 recorded as producing gemmiferous protonemata (the latter figure almost certainly inflated due to confusion with protonemal brood cells produced by redifferentiation of chloronemal cells in ageing cultures (Goode et al., 1993b)), have produced gemmiferous protonemata in culture and from these 44 have been discovered to be gemmiferous in nature. We estimate that 20-30% of all mosses probably possess gemmiferous protonemata.
In a minority of species (e.g. Diphyscium foliosum, Dicranella heteromalla, Dicranoweisia cirrata, Dicranum montanum, D. tauricum, Tortula muralis, Orthodontium lineare, Schistostega pennata, Rhizomnium punctatum, Zygodon spp., Orthotrichum spp., Isopterygium elegans) gemmiferous protonemata may be found at all times of the year, often forming extensive patches in niches where gametophores are depauperate (Duckett & Ligrone, 1994; Duckett & Matcham, in press). However, in the majority (e.g. Ceratodon purpureus, Dicranella staphylina, Encalypta streptocarpa, Funaria hygrometrica, Bryum spp., Mnium hornum) they appear to be highly transient and associated only with initial stages in colonisation, often preceding the full development of gametophores. Gemmiferous protonemata may be found in a variety of habitats from trees and rotten logs to bare soils and rock surfaces. Taxonomically they are widely distributed in the different orders of mosses but are notably rare in the Hypnobryales and have yet to be seen in the Fissidentales, Grimmiales and Polytrichales. Liberation mechanisms involve either severance along the middle lamella of the basal cell (Dicranum montanum, D. tauricum, Saelania glaucescens, Mnium hornum, Rhizomnium punctatum, Cryphaea, Leptodon, Homalia, Myrinia and all 18 members of the Pottiales studied to date) or the formation of specialised tmema (abscission) cells by an intercalary division associated with polarity reversal in the filament in question. The tmema cells themselves exhibit a range of severance mechanisms. In Bryum breakage occurs along an equatorial line of weakness in the original wall (Goode et al., 1993a), in Funaria, Ceratodon and Dicranella filament disruption is affected by the expansion of a new internal wall (Duckett & Matcham, in press) but in the Hookeriales swelling of the cell below the tmema cell leads to the rupture of the latter.
To date we have but scratched the surface of an area of bryology largely overlooked by taxonomists, ecologists and reproductive biologists alike. Some 25 years ago the late Eustace Jones remarked to one of us, 'when you start bryology you collect common species, then you stop but eventually you start again'. Gemmiferous protonemata are a compelling reason for all of us to begin again.
Duckett JG, Ligrone R. 1992. A survey of diaspore liberation mechanisms
and germination patterns in mosses. Journal of Bryology 17:
Mr G. Stark (Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough): 'The Lower Plant Biodiversity Register.'
At the end of last year I began work on the Lower Plant Biodiversity Register project. The project extends JNCCs interest in lower plant conservation. My initial brief was to collate data on lower plants in order to develop a system for the identification and ranking of sites important for their lower plant interest. Our ideas have evolved over the past year, and considerable thought has gone into what kind of information we would like to collect, how to store this information and how we can use this information to the benefit of lower plant conservation.
Bryophytes and stoneworts have been a testing ground for the project. To date I have made entries for some 2500 populations of Red Data List bryophytes based on records in the BBS Atlas database at the Biological Records Centre. Many of these populations have not been seen for some time. Entries in the Register are not the same as records held in the Atlas database; a Register entry, such as 'Cratoneuron decipiens on Ben Lawers' or 'Cheilothela chloropus at Berry Head', will relate to a number of Atlas records. We also hope to make Register entries more comprehensive, with details of habitats and threats and notes on occasions where a species has not been refound. Over the forthcoming months I will be adding to these entries from forms returned by BBS recorders, comments made on the original records cards and various surveys and special projects carried out by the county conservation agencies.
An obvious way in which the Register can be used is to disseminate information about populations of rare lower plant species. The work of the country conservation agencies (English Nature, Scottish Natural Heritage and The Countryside Council for Wales) includes casework relating to potential threats to nature conservation sites, planning applications or changes on SSSIs for example. Site managers and conservation officers often do not have specialist bryophyte expertise, with notable exceptions! We intend to make the information held on the Lower Plant Biodiversity Register available to these staff, either through regional reports or possibly computer copies of the Register itself. We see the Register as sitting at an interface between the statutory conservation agencies and the specialist knowledge of societies like the BBS. By making information about Red Data List bryophyte populations more easily available we hope to encourage their consideration by non specialists.
In addition to disseminating information the Register will be used to get an overview of lower plant conservation. An example of this is the occurrence of Red Data List bryophytes on National Nature Reserves (NNRs). About a half of the 220 Red Data List bryophytes had at least one occurrence on a National Nature Reserve. Occurrence on a NNR is incidental, since populations of lower plants were not a consideration in the designation of NNRs. Note that this is not a complete picture of protection since species may occur on other protected sites (SSSI or local nature reserves) or have species protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. A few NNRs have populations of many species (Ben Lawers NNR 42, Cairngorms NNR 21 and Caenlochan NNR all extensive Scottish upland sites) but the majority have one or two species. We compared representation of species on NNRs with their habitat and life strategy.
The picture is much as we had expected although interestingly it contrasts with that for invertebrate species for which there is a higher representation of Red Data List species on protected sites in SE England. In the case of rare invertebrates in regions like East Anglia the few areas of good habitat are mostly protected, have been intensively studied and have a higher number of rare species than reserves in the uplands. This is less the case for Red Data List bryophytes, since rare bryophytes in regions like East Anglia tend to be species of marginal habitats such as exposed mud or arable fields, sites unlikely to have statutory protection as NNRs.
Protection of sites may suit some species but it is not appropriate for all those species with the life strategy of shuttle species being a case in point. Further, site based protection does nothing to enhance the environment in which most of us live most of the time. Discussion of wider countryside conservation is currently dominated by birds, where site based protection is often limited because of the large amount of land which would be required for it to be effective. A similar argument could be put for bryophyte species which move around a lot. These species do not require for extensive tracts of land to be designated as reserves, but would benefit from sympathetic land management practices in a working landscape. In the future we hope to use the Register to make recommendations which will benefit bryophytes growing outside of protected and managed reserves.
Dr E.V. Watson (Cleeve): 'Sixty years in bryology.'
Under the title 'Sixty years in Bryology', Dr Watson recalled his first tentative steps, taken in student days at Edinburgh in the nineteen thirties, when he received significant help and encouragement from Mr William Young, who had been a founder member of the Moss Exchange Club back in 1896 and was busy reorganising bryological material in the Herbarium of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.
Reference was made to the exploratory visits paid by some members of Edinburgh University Biological Society to Barra in June 1935 and in summer 1936 when it fell to Dr Watson to investigate, among other things, the mosses. Help in identification was received from long-standing BBS member, J.B. Duncan of Berwick-on-Tweed. Much valuable experience was gained and these studies culminated in a paper 'The mosses of Barra, Outer Hebrides' in Transactions of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh 32, 1939.
To a certain extent, a 'fresh start' was made in the spring of 1946 when the opportunity was seized not only to join the BBS but to attend the Meeting of the Society held at Appleby at that time. As a direct outcome of taking these two steps, Dr Watson found himself, by the autumn of that year, on the staff of the Botany Department at the University of Reading and Bibliographer of the British Bryological Society; the first to last for 33 years, the second for 25!
Soon after arrival at Reading a big new opportunity arose when Professor Tom Harris made the suggestion that a simple book on bryophytes might be written, expressly aimed at beginners. The seed had been sown from which British Mosses and Liverworts was to grow. This 'growth' took some time and Dr. Watson expanded a little on some of the phases of that process. He emphasised the generous help he received throughout from Professor Paul Richards. He enlarged on some of the misgivings he had about the book and his delight and relief when it was well received on its appearance in April 1955. One innovation was a key which took one direct to species. Another was a field key, to the most prominent and easily recognisable species, in a folder at the back. Key making was much 'in fashion' at the time at Reading, Dr F.B. Hora being deeply involved in making his 'Field Key to Common British Mushrooms and Toadstools'.
There followed what might be called the 'middle years', i.e. roughly the period from the mid-nineteen fifties to the mid-nineteen seventies, but a digression was made to recall certain incidents, customs and outstanding personalities of 40 years ago. Up to about 1956 the daily excursions on Spring Field meetings were by coach. This afforded one the opportunity to make interesting new friendships, while a tea-time break at a hotel or restaurant enabled people to talk over some of the finds of the day. Two people who played key parts, not only on field trips but in the affairs of the society as a whole, were E.C. Wallace, who had been our tireless secretary from 1946 onwards, and E.F. Warburg, who had, it seemed, an encyclopaedic knowledge and a keenness of eye that nobody else could match.
Two characteristic features of those days (40 or so years ago) were (1) that vice-counties were the sole geographic units in terms of which distribution was studied and (2) an annual event known as the 'Exchange and Distribution' whereby material (much of it from abroad) was assembled by the secretary and in due course distributed to interested members. It was invaluable for anybody attempting to build up a reference herbarium.
Reference was then made to the work that had been involved in holding office as Bibliographer and thus preparing, year after year, the contribution entitled 'Recent bryological literature'; and it was pointed out how this work enabled Dr. Watson to consider acceptance when, in 1960, an invitation came from Professor Munro Fox to write a book in Hutchinsons University Library. The outcome was Structure and Life of Bryophytes, which was published in 1964. A somewhat different plan was adopted from that found in any bryophyte text that had gone before. There were difficulties, not least the strict limits to the length of the book and a format which precluded anything like satisfactory illustrations. The author's period as Bibliographer (1946-71) just allowed him to stay reasonably in touch with the advancing stream of literature until a second edition had been prepared, with its greatly extended list of references.
Playing a quiet 'background role' as one of the Society's panel of 'referees' was something that had been going on now for 40 years. It was interesting and at times challenging work being referee for Pohlia, Bryum and Philonotis (and seven other less difficult genera). The 'referee's nightmare', of a great avalanche of material being suddenly unleashed upon one, had not so far occurred. Considerable problems could be posed occasionally, for example when two species chose to grow intimately entwined with one another; or again when one was asked to give a verdict on a minute specimen which had been firmly attached to a piece of card with the best Victorian glue by a bryologist over 100 years ago. An occasional moment of light relief would come when the plant sent in as Bryum sp. turned out to be Funaria hygrometrica!
It had to be admitted by the author of this contribution that the last fifteen to twenty years had been a time when he had played a greatly diminished part. For the BBS as a whole, however, this had been a time of burgeoning activity on many different fronts.
Accordingly, for the final part of this review of his 'Sixty years in Bryology' Dr Watson turned briefly to some of the directions in which both the subject as a whole and BBS activities had been fast expanding. Reference was made to the more complex and demanding role of the Bibliographer today and the increased volume of contemporary bryological literature. He emphasised the many sources to be tapped now by the young enthusiast in contrast to the situation 60 years ago.
Finally, he saw fit to compliment fellow members on some of the outstanding achievements of recent times. Most notable, surely, was the culmination of the 'mapping scheme' - embarked upon 34 years ago - in the publication of the three handsome volumes of the Atlas of the Bryophytes of Britain and Ireland'. Another encouraging development had been a closer collaboration with bryologists and bryology overseas.
Mr D.G. Long (Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh): 'Bryological exploration of Nepal.'
Nepal is a Himalayan kingdom of 54,000 square miles dominated by the Himalayan chain of mountains with several of the world's highest peaks. In altitude it ranges from 60 m up to 8848 m and supports a wide range of habitats from subtropical forest to alpine desert. The climate is monsoonal with heavy summer rains. Rainfall is highest in the east, declining westwards with quite arid interior areas in the west. The high rainfall leads to a high treeline (4000 m or more) in the east.
Nepal remained virtually unexplored bryologically before 1950. The earliest collectors, Buchanan, Gardner and Wallich (early 19th century) were restricted in their movements to parts of central Nepal and made only limited collections. These specimens came to Britain and were worked on by W.J. Hooker and W.H. Harvey. J.D. Hooker was the first botanists to explore the wetter but richer eastern Nepal in 1848. His collections were researched by Mitten. The century following this saw virtually no bryological activity in Nepal, but since 1950 most parts of the country have been at least partly explored.
The author led a botanical expedition to East Nepal in September/October 1991, to the Barun Khola valley, Makalu area, Hatiya and Milke Danda ridge (the region east of the Everest range). The last of these areas had been explored by Japanese bryologists in the 1970s, and found to be very rich with rarities such as Takakia. The expedition was funded jointly by the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh and private sponsors, and the team included a Nepalese liaison botanist from Kathmandu.
Transport was by a Twin Otter plane to the airstrip at Tumlingtat in the Arun Valley, thereafter we walked with a team of Sherpa guides and porters. Collecting was primarily of vascular plants but substantial bryological collections were possible. Drying of specimens was effected by kerosene heaters in a drying frame, and dry specimens were sealed in polythene bags and carried by porters.
Many threats to the rich bryoflora of East Nepal were in evidence: overpopulation is the greatest threat as it forces poorer villagers into the steep inner valleys where primary forest is degraded by felling, burning and grazing. This land is of very low agricultural potential. The resulting secondary scrub is of low bryological interest in comparison to the primary rain forest. Trekking and tourism are recent threat; they lead to a 'honeypot' effect along footpaths where villagers settle and open teashops and rest-houses with consequent stresses to the vegetation.
n the Arun Valley north to Num only pockets of primary forest survived. Nevertheless many interesting bryophytes were seen in disturbed and cultivated areas and pockets of forest. Two Asterella species were frequent: A. mussuriensis and A. khasyana. Bryowijkia ambigua was a distinctive epiphyte. On shady paths Conocephalum japonicum was collected. At Num the Arun river gorge was crossed, followed by a gradual ascent through temperate forest zones with a steadily improving bryoflora. Abies densa/Rhododendron forest clothed the slopes below the Shipton La pass with robust ground mosses such as Actinothuidium hookeri, Rhodobryum giganteum, Breutelia setschwanica and Paraleucobryum enerve. Rotten logs were richly clothed in liverworts such as Lophozia setosa and Delavayella serrata.
The Shipton La pass (4130 m) was a rich alpine habitat with wet cliffs with extensive Takakia ceratophylla and block scree with Anastrophyllum joergensenii c. spor. and many other Hepaticae. The descent on the north side was back into dense Rhododendron forest in the Barun Khola valley. The valley turned out to have extensive outcrops of calcareous schist rocks and exceptionally rich bryophyte assemblages: some of these supported some of the rare European Alpine calcicoles such as Cirriphyllum cirrosum, Blindia caespiticia, Encalypta alpina, Campylium halleri and Meesia uliginosa. Two thalloid liverworts new to science were found here: Asterella grollei and Aneura crateriformis. Just as interesting was the first Sphaerocarpos for E. Asia: S. stipitatus, known from Chile, South Africa and Portugal.
Continuing up the Barun Khola, the rain shadow effect soon dramatically changed the vegetation to dry xerophytic scrub and scree. The bryophytes were much less rich, but still of interest: e.g. the abundance of Rhytidium rugosum. Other rarities were Andreaea frigida and the cleistocarpous member of Splachnaceae, Voitia nivalis. On Makalu itself we climbed to 18,000 feet where a few bryophytes were still present.
The return journey took us to the remote village of Hatiya on the Tibetan border where magnificent surviving forest of hemlock (Tsuga dumosa) were of great interest. Here was found Scaphophyllum speciosum, Geocalyx graveolens and Acrobolbus ciliatus, the first new to Nepal and a significant extension from its other localities in Bhutan and Taiwan. Next we ascended the Milke Danda ridge, an important yak-herding route with severe degradation of the Rhododendron forest in places. Notwithstanding, some good finds were made including Campylostelium saxicola new to the Himalaya and both Tetrodontium brownianum and T. repandum.
The journey back to Kathmandu involved a very long bus journey, during which one of the parcels of bryophytes mysteriously disappeared. In spite of this, over 2000 collections were made including several taxa new to science and others new to Nepal. There is no doubt of the richness of East Nepal's bryoflora. Perhaps most interesting is the discovery that some of our own 'Northern Atlantic' liverworts are much more extensive in the Himalaya than in Europe, e.g. Anastrophyllum donianum and A. joergensenii, Bazzania pearsonii and Pleurozia purpurea.
Mr B.J. O'Shea (London): 'Malawi bryophytes and the checklist of sub-Saharan African mosses.'
The collections from the BBS Tropical Bryology Group 1991 expedition to Mount Mulanje, Malawi, are now being processed at an increasing rate, and approximately 21% (1600 mosses and 800 hepatics) are now identified or with experts for identification. 37 experts were assisting members of the expedition team in identification. The 4500 collections were expected to yield about 11250 taxa, at 2.5 taxa per collection. Of the 212 different taxa so far identified, 57% were new to the known flora of Malawi. It was estimated that two to three years more would be needed to complete the work.
Work on the Malawi flora had identified the need for a checklist of sub-Saharan African bryophytes to supplement and integrate the rather poor existing documentation of the bryophyte flora. The hepatic checklist was being pursued by Martin Wigginton, but although work on the moss list was not yet complete, it was now possible to derive some preliminary conclusions on the overall number of taxa on the continent, and the likely effect on this of taxonomic revisions. By looking at revised groups (Campylopus, Leptodontium, Neckeropsis, Porothamnium/Porotrichum, Rigodium, Sphagnum, Thuidium s.l.) and unrevised groups (Isopterygium, Leucoloma, Macromitrium, Pilotrichella, Racopilum, Sematophyllum, Schlotheimia, Taxithelium, Vesicularia, Zygodon) as well as those in process of revision (Calymperes, Fissidens), it was shown that many groups with large numbers of apparent endemics may not have endemics at all, and were the result of poor taxonomy of the past, when large numbers of unnecessary taxa were described. Useful metrics for genera with large numbers of species seemed to be the number of countries in which taxa occurred (ca. 2 for unrevised vs. 8 for revised genera), and the number of taxa occurring in only one country (ca. 50% for unrevised and 25% for revised genera). The dangers of making such generalisations without careful study of the genus in question was emphasised: Archidium was given as an example of a revised genus that displayed the 'unrevised' characteristic of thinly distributed species, but which in that case were genuinely endemic species. Nevertheless, it was important to remove the 'noise' of unnecessary taxa before it was possible to make specific statements on diversity and endemism in African mosses, and thus allow appropriate conservation procedures to be defined. Our poor knowledge of the African flora was emphasised by further information from the African moss flora database 32 of the 50 countries and islands included in the list had fewer than 100 taxa recorded, and 11 had fewer than 10 which underlined the need for many more expeditions such as the one to Malawi to improve our knowledge, and the urgent need for training of local bryologists.
Field Excursion to Roundton Hill, Todleith Hill and the River Onny, 25 September 1994
The morning was spent in the vicinity of the Montgomery Wildlife Trust Reserve of Roundton Hill, just on the Welsh side of the border, a small rocky and grassy hill with wooded fringes on a substrate of dolerite. Tortula canescens has been recorded there in the past. The party split into two, one group examining Roundton Hill itself, with another going to the neighbouring Todleth Hill, which is less well-known than Roundton and more wooded.
A not-unexpected assemblage of predominantly calcifuge species was recorded on Roundton Hill, including Andreaea rothii, Cynodontium bruntonii, Hedwigia stellata (recently distinguished from H. ciliata, which was not found here) and Pterogonium gracile on rocky crags, with Lophozia bicrenata and Scapania compacta in rock crevices. Tortula canescens was searched for but unfortunately not found. Some members attempted to distinguish between the varieties of Hypnum lacunosum, explained the previous day, in the field. There were a few more calcareous outcrops with Encalypta streptocarpa, Fissidens cristatus and Tortella tortuosa, with Climacium dendroides in short turf nearby. Chris Walker found Grimmia laevigata, the first record from Roundton for some years. In the swirling mists and wind at the summit of the hill, it was almost possible to imagine oneself on a Scottish mountain!
The other party had an interesting morning on Todleth Hill, the extra shade and humidity of the site proving more rewarding than the relatively bare slopes of Roundton, and providing an interesting mixture of lowland and upland species. Notable finds included Amphidium mougeotii, Cirriphyllum crassinervium, more Hedwigia stellata, Racomitrium affine, Barbilophozia barbata, Lejeunea cavifolia and Reboulia hemisphaerica. The oceanic liverworts Lejeunea lamacerina, Saccogyna viticulosa and Scapania gracilis were all recorded, here at the eastern limits of their distribution in the Welsh borders.
After lunch, and a small amount of confusion en route caused by a Ron Shoubridge look-alike eating lunch in his car, the remaining members of the party returned to the English side of the border (Shropshire) to examine the characteristic riverine bryophyte communities in the flood zone on the banks of the River Onny, near Cheney Longville. In the gathering autumnal dampness, species such as Leskea polycarpa and Orthotrichum rivulare were seen on riverside trees, as well as very nice stands of Scleropodium cespitans. Pseudephemerum nitidum and Fossombronia wondraczekii were recorded from muddy banks and several elder trees had reasonable epiphytic communities, with Bryum flaccidum, Orthotrichum spp., Zygodon viridissimus, Frullania dilatata and Radula complanata. Tom Blockeel and Jean Paton explored another stretch of the river, where they found Tortula latifolia and Porella cordaeana, and examination of adjacent stubble fields yielded Ephemerum serratum var. minutissimum, Riccia glauca and R. sorocarpa.
University of Bristol, 19-20 November
This year the workshop weekend, organised by Dennis Brown at the University of Bristol on the 19-20 November, could not be described as either a taxonomic or a field meeting. Instead, a dozen people enjoyed two days of discussions, demonstrations and hands-on experience of growing bryophytes.
Work started on Saturday morning with a visit to the University Botanic Gardens, by permission of Nick Wray. He made a brief appearance, only to discover most people forced by the rain into either hunting for cultivatable specimens in greenhouses or dilapidated cold frames, or recovering with a hot drink. A list of nearly 50 taxa was compiled. During a lull in the rain an inspection was made of some experimental herbicide-treatment plots, laid out on a Rhytidiadelphus-rich 'lawn' using thread ligature markers for apical growth measurements.
In the afternoon Dr Harold Whitehouse gave a talk on his test-tube agar culture techniques and clearly explained the value of using axenic cultures for taxonomic problems. This was followed by a demonstration of the techniques and an opportunity to discover personally that quite a bit of private practice may be required to become as skilled as Harold in sterile methods.
On Sunday morning Michael Fletcher gave a talk entitled 'Bryoculture, a systems analysis approach'. He introduced us to many new interpretations of familiar acronyms but also challenged us to become bryoculturists. Again, this was followed by the chance to set up cultures; many of them derived from the large number of varied specimen pots that Michael had brought to the meeting. At the end of the morning, Dennis Brown extolled the virtues of his 'sandwich-box and Velcro' culture method for testing the effects of pollutants on growth and investigating regeneration problems. People began to disperse from lunchtime - usually happily clutching method sheets, bottles of nutrient solutions or pots of newly planted material and replete with discussions of practical problems, challenging taxa and knowing how to succeed in a different branch of active bryology.