BBS > Activities > Meetings and Workshops > Previous > 1995
Meetings of the BBS - 1995
Ambleside, Cumbria 5-12 April
The Society's 1995 Spring Meeting took place on 5-12 April, the headquarters hotel being the Queen's Hotel, Ambleside. The Local Secretary was Peter Bullard, Director of the Cumbria Wildlife Trust; much of the meeting was devoted to surveying the bryophytes of the interesting Atlantic woodlands of the area.
Wednesday, 5 April
The weather was typically Lakeland as Peter Bullard led a small but enthusiastic party for an afternoon in Stockghyll Park. This area, just on the outskirts of Ambleside, consists of a somewhat altered deciduous woodland through which flows a sizeable beck with a fine waterfall. Initial impressions were of a bryoflora dominated by fairly common, calcifuge species, but an examination of the valley of a small tributary stream quickly produced better things. Here Peter Martin turned up Mnium stellare on the masonry of a bridge, while Porella cordaeana was on damp rocks nearby. After some time the party crossed to the right bank of Stock Ghyll, and were soon heavily involved with the flora of a dripping rock face. This, like much of the area to be visited during the week, was made up of rocks of the Borrowdale Volcanic Series whose strata are often basic, sometimes quite strongly so, and this appeared to be the case here. The cliff had sheets of Cratoneuron commutatum, together with much Pellia endiviifolia and other common calcicoles. Trichocolea tomentella was present in one spot. Moving on up the valley, the party was joined by Jeff Bates and Sean O'Leary who had come via the other side of the ghyll and over the bridge further up. Their expertise soon led us to a stretch of wall which had, in addition to a number of common lowland calcicoles, two good patches of Barbilophozia barbata.
The weather was starting to improve as members came back down the other side of the valley. Whether for that reason, or coincidentally, the tally of unusual species began to rise. The first was a patch of Hookeria lucens, growing by a little stream; although by no means rare in the Lakes, this produced some excitement among the south-eastern contingent. Nowellia curvifolia, growing in some quantity on a rotting log, was another source of interest. Jeff Bates demonstrated Dicranodontium denudatum (on humus) and Dicranum montanum (on bark); the latter species had also been seen, but not recognized, earlier in the afternoon. By the time the party dispersed a very presentable list had been compiled, the rain had stopped and hopes were high for the following day.
Thursday, 6 April
The previous night's forecast had been correct, and members assembled at the headquarters hotel in beautiful weather. The morning's venue was Dorothy Farrer's Spring Wood, a Cumbria Wildlife Trust reserve near the village of Staveley. (The word 'spring' is used locally to mean a coppiced woodland.) The reserve consists of two separate blocks, with some privately-owned woodland between them. The bedrock is Silurian slate. The dominant tree is oak, with ash, elm and other species in the wetter areas.
The southern compartment (Dorothy Farrer's Spring Wood s.s.) was visited first. Initial impressions were a little disappointing, most of the species seen being those common ones typical of acid oak woodland. Metzgeria conjugata soon turned up in small quantity on rock by the stream, while Peter Martin found Barbilophozia barbata on an old wall near the edge of the site. A large shaded rock slab nearby was largely covered in Metzgeria temperata and Orthodontium lineare was found, fruiting copiously on open ground not far away.
The northern part of the reserve was of much greater interest, largely because it was damper. Perhaps the best among the considerable number of species here were Jamesoniella autumnalis, Ptilidium pulcherrimum (on bark at one spot), Trichocolea and Dicranum montanum; others included Nowellia, Hylocomium brevirostre and Hookeria. Although the bryoflora of this area was generally good, there was a paucity of epiphytic species, presumably due either to excessive exposure or to air pollution.
As a contrast to the morning's venue, that for the afternoon was the exposed limestone of Hutton Roof Crag (near Burton in Kendal) where our leader was Kerry Milligan of the Cumbria Wildlife Trust. The arrival of Martin Wigginton, John Blackburn, Jeremy Roberts and others made for a larger group and doubtless increased the number of records made.
In common with much of the Carboniferous Limestone of the area, Hutton Roof Crag shows a surprising variety of basic and acid habitats, the latter being caused by leaching and the build-up of peat over the limestone where the gradients are gentle. This contrast was evident almost as soon as the site was reached: the shaded limestone pavements sported an abundance of such species as Tortella tortuosa, Neckera crispa and Rhynchostegium murale, while the open leached track nearby had Polytrichum juniperinum, Campylopus pyriformis, C. fragilis (fruiting) and C. introflexus. There was also at least one good colony of Bryum bornholmense. Later on, the calcifuges Orthodontium lineare, Plagiothecium undulatum, Pleurozium schreberi, Pellia epiphylla (fruiting) and surprisingly, Nowellia curvifolia were seen, and also Ditrichum flexicaule s.s. and D. crispatissimum, Barbula hornschuchiana, Mnium stellare, Climacium dendroides, Thuidium delicatulum, Leiocolea alpestris and Plagiochila britannica (this last species in two sites). Pride of place must go to Martin Wigginton's discovery of Tortella densa, a plant he knows from the nearby Dalton Crag. As at Dorothy Farrer's Spring Wood, the epiphyte flora was poor, the rarest species seen being Ulota crispa var. crispa and Orthotrichum affine which were both fruiting.
Friday, 7 April
With a number of additional members having arrived the previous evening, it was a large group which set off for Patterdale. The goal was Birk Fell Wood, a birch/juniper wood on the southern shore of Ullswater which was known to have an interesting bryophyte flora, with old records for Ptilium crista-castrensis and Hylocomium umbratum. The excursion was led by Allan Stewart, a Conservation Officer with English Nature.
Although, to save time, bryologizing during the walk-in was discouraged, Martha Newton still managed to demonstrate a splendid colony of Nowellia on a large log by the path. The presence of such a shelter-loving plant in a site as open as this is a good indication of the damp, mild climate of this area. Luckily, the weather on the day was fine, but windy. Once arrived at the wood, members were quickly in the head-down position characteristic of bryologists in interesting areas. Early finds were Sphagnum quinquefarium, Bryum alpinum, Breutelia chrysocoma, Hookeria and Neckera crispa which, with other species typical of locally base-rich upland sites, proved of great interest to those of us from the south. The group soon fragmented, with much of the wood being worked by various people during the course of the day.
The bouldery shore of the lake was visited and found to have a luxuriant cover of mostly frequent species of which typical ones were Lejeunea cavifolia, Cinclidotus fontinaloides, Thamnobryum alopecurum and (locally) Climacium dendroides. Martha Newton recorded, among other things, Sphagnum russowii, Rhabdoweisia crenulata, Racomitrium sudeticum and Pohlia elongata. Ron Porley found Barbilophozia atlantica and Plagiopus oederi, and Martin Wigginton discovered Dicranum montanum. Jeff Bates and others made a determined search in the area where Ptilium and Hylocomium umbratum had previously been seen, but unfortunately were able to confirm only the latter. Gordon Rothero led a small party of enthusiasts up an interesting stream gully which, together with its environs, produced Riccardia palmata, Bartramia halleriana and Hypnum callichroum as well as a number of commoner species. Mark Pool found a Thuidium in a flush, which later keyed out as T. delicatulum, while Racomitrium elongatum was by the track above Blowick on the way back (the species of the former R. canescens aggregate are still under-recorded over much of the country). All in all, a most interesting day.
Saturday, 8 April
With the attendance now at its highest, the day was scheduled for a visit to the National Trust-owned Troutbeck valley. This is a large area containing a wide range of habitats, and hopes were high for a good total of species (the weather was still fine, which seemed a favourable omen). The leader was John Hoosen, the National Trust's Regional Biologist.
The cars were parked near Hagg Bridge, and members walked by way of the farm of Troutbeck Park to Hird Wood, where the serious bryology started. Hird Wood was found to be of very considerable interest, the wood having a number of local western species, while the ravine of the Trout Beck had interesting basic rock. Martin Wigginton found Scapania aequiloba, growing with Seligeria recurvata on moist shaded rock by the beck and Gordon Rothero found Jubula hutchinsiae in a dark wet crevice nearby. Other species found near the beck included Cololejeunea calcarea and Jungermannia pumila (both fertile), Barbilophozia atlantica and Plagiochila britannica. The wood, which contained some very wet flushes, gave Metzgeria leptoneura, Nowellia, Trichocolea, Dicranodontium denudatum and Dicranum fuscescens. It says something for the interest of the week so far that many of the southern contingent were becoming quite blasé about these!
So rich was the woodland that a list of well over a hundred taxa had been compiled by the time members emerged (some reluctantly) for lunch which was taken by a small rock outcrop just north of the wood. During the afternoon the party became scattered all over the upper dale but unfortunately no-one reached the very head, around Threshthwaite Mouth, but the rest of the area was quite well-worked. After finding Dryptodon patens on a boulder in the stream, Ron Porley teamed up with Nick Hodgetts and others to visit Doup Crag where they recorded a number of species, of which the rarest was Oedipodium griffithianum. Gordon Rothero's group went to the impressive ravine of Blue Gill, under Froswick. This was basic, and produced a good list of taxa of which the most noteworthy were probably Cololejeunea calcarea and Pterogonium gracile. Martha Newton, in the course of a day taking in Hird Wood, Doup Crag and Hagg Gill, produced a list which rivalled those of the rest of us put together with highlights including Jungermannia exsertifolia, Thuidium delicatulum and Calliergon sarmentosum. Dicranum montanum was found again, this time on sycamore bark by a stream at an altitude of some 300 metres. The final total for the day was prodigious. While Troutbeck is not in the same class as, for example, Ben Lawers, it certainly holds great bryological promise.
Peter Martin, anxious to see some montane habitats, had spent the day on Helvellyn. He left his car at Thirlmere, and visited the summit and the vicinity of Red Tarn where he recorded 46 species, the most noteworthy being Barbilophozia floerkei, Polytrichum alpinum, Grimmia donniana and Scorpidium scorpioides. A meeting of the Council was held during the evening in the Queen's Hotel.
Sunday, 9 April
The morning's venue was the wooded valley of the Scandale Beck above Low Sweden Bridge where Peter Bullard was the leader. The bridge was of interest, with Mnium stellare and Rhynchostegium murale, while a tree alongside had fruiting Orthotrichum stramineum. A short distance upstream, a large rotting log was found to be liberally covered with Jamesoniella autumnalis and Nowellia curvifolia. The rest of the valley proved so rich that 120 species had been recorded by the time lunch was taken some three hours later. The most interesting included Blepharostoma trichophyllum, Trichocolea tomentella, Barbilophozia barbata, Jungermannia paroica, Ptilidium pulcherrimum, Dicranodontium denudatum and Bartramia ithyphylla. After lunch a very brief visit was paid to a site further up the hillside, west of Peel Wood where Gordon Rothero rounded off the morning's work by finding Leucodon sciuroides (a rare plant in the Lakes) carpeting the trunk of a moribund ash.
In the afternoon, members visited two sites on Loughrigg Fell. The first was the SSSI of Miller Brow, which is basically damp rocky pasture with some scrubby woodland and a stream. Despite its small size the area was surprisingly productive. Nothing of great rarity was found, but species such as Leiocolea bantriensis, Mylia taylorii, Sphagnum contortum, S. teres and Drepanocladus uncinatus were of interest. After a time the party moved on to look at Black Mire (with the exception of Mark Pool who had been seduced by the delights of Miller Brow and had stayed on to try to boost the score). The appropriately-named Black Mire was a generally wetter site than Miller Brow, and had a good variety of sphagna which included S. cuspidatum, S. teres and S. warnstorfii associated with Odontoschisma sphagni, Mylia taylorii and Riccardia multifida.
Peter Martin had again gone off alone, this time to Birk Hagg near Rydal and returned with a short, but interesting, list of species including Jamesoniella autumnalis, Gymnostomum aeruginosum and Orthothecium intricatum. Another splinter group, composed of Tim Blackstock, Nick Hodgetts, Brian O'Shea and Ron Porley, revisited the Red Tarn area and came back with an impressive tally of records including Marsupella sprucei, M. adusta, Oedipodium griffithianum, Calliergon sarmentosum and Isothecium myosuroides var. brachythecioides.
Monday, 10 April
The group, now considerably reduced in numbers after the weekend, spent the morning in the woods at Birk Hagg, Rydal, under the guidance of Peter Bullard. They concentrated on the valley of the Rydal Beck itself (Peter Martin's earlier visit being to the tributary valley to the east). Jamesoniella autumnalis, Nowellia curvifolia and Dicranodontium denudatum were quickly found, as was a Leucobryum which turned out on later microscopic examination to be L. juniperoideum (this plant was recorded in several other sites during the week). A fairly intensive search for Jubula hutchinsiae, previously recorded in these woods, proved fruitless, but compensation was provided by Plagiochila punctata, found on a tree trunk along with much greater quantities of P. spinulosa. Also on tree trunks were several colonies of Dicranum montanum, a plant which appears to be at least locally established in this area. Unfortunately, time did not permit as full an investigation of this valley as some would have liked but it certainly seems to have a rich bryoflora.
The afternoon excursion involved a considerable drive: the venue was the Howk at Caldbeck, a small Carboniferous limestone gorge in the valley of the river Caldew which the Society had visited the site previously, in 1959, and found such species as Fissidens rufulus and Taxiphyllum wissgrillii. En route Harold Whitehouse led a small party to try and refind Grimmia anodon in one of its two British sites, at Raven Crag. A plant found was initially thought to be the Grimmia, but subsequent checking made it Coscinodon cribrosus; further research has shown that the original specimen from here is also C. cribrosus. There is now some doubt whether G. anodon is still present in Britain.
Reunited in the Caldbeck car park, the group was led to the Howk by Phil Taylor, an ecologist from the Lake District National Park Authority. The site proved interesting from the first, Porella cordaeana being present on waterside tree roots and Cololejeunea rossettiana both on vertical limestone and on the mosses growing on it. Further searching resulted in Barbula sinuosa on shaded rock and roots, and much more of the Porella on rocks by the river. Some spectacular-looking climbing by Jon Graham and others should have ensured that little was missed! Fissidens rufulus had not so far been in evidence, but a small collection made by Ron Porley turned out to be this species when checked later. The pleasant limestone woodland above the gorge gave no great surprises, but there was a considerable number of common basicoles. In addition, a dying elm by the river produced fruiting Orthotrichum stramineum and the only Neckera pumila seen on the trip. Barbula hornschuchiana, on gravel by the car park, was a new record for the Atlas.
Tuesday, 11 April
Carboniferous Limestone again provided the venue for the morning's visit, which took in the Cumbria Trust's Hervey Nature Reserve on Whitbarrow. This was very different from the Howk, being a high, bare escarpment with a definite shortage of water. David Harpley (Conservation Manager with the Cumbria Wildlife Trust) was the leader. The approach was made by the field path from Witherslack Hall and then up the steep western face of the hill.
The Hervey Reserve is rather similar to Hutton Roof Crag, but seems to have more bare rock and to be more windswept. The dominant plant over much of the site is the Blue Moor-grass (Sesleria caerulea), which is so common on this northern limestone and yet so rare elsewhere. Bryophytes are few and far between on the open limestone, but are common in the grikes of the pavements and in sheltered sites among other vegetation. As at Hutton Roof Crag, calcifuges (Pleurozium schreberi, Hylocomium splendens) were quite frequent where leaching had taken place.
Rhytidium rugosum was found to be scattered locally over the site (usually in small amounts) after a number of mis-identifications involving Hypnum lacunosum. Lunch was taken by Argles Tarn which was surrounded by wet basic ground where the dominant bryophytes were Scorpidium scorpioides and Drepanocladus revolvens. The scrubby woodland nearby, in addition to the local Baneberry (Actaea spicata), produced a variety of mostly common bryophytes, the rarest being Hylocomium brevirostre.
As a total change, the afternoon excursion was in the lowland raised bog of Meathop Moss where, as in the morning, the leader was David Harpley. The approach was made from the east, along a track through the surrounding plantations where Sphagnum fimbriatum was quickly found by a runnel under the trees. First impressions of the Moss were that it had a good variety of sphagna (ten taxa were recorded, equalling the previous total) but that few other bryophyte species were in evidence though there were several good colonies of S. magellanicum, and many of the hummocks sprouted populations of Polytrichum alpestre. Odontoschisma sphagni was abundant among the Sphagnum spp., often associated with Cephalozia connivens and occasionally with Kurzia pauciflora. The previous season's cranberries were sampled by some members and pronounced to be slightly alcoholic which may explain why nearly all the Mylia anomala found during the afternoon turned out to be Odontoschisma sphagni! The genuine article was, however, eventually found, on a rotting conifer stump among the Sphagnum hummocks. A lucky find on the way back to the cars was a rotting log with both Nowellia and Odontoschisma denudatum.
Wednesday, 12 April
For this, the last morning of the trip, Peter Bullard led the half-dozen or so remaining members on a visit to Skelghyll Wood which lies just south of Ambleside, and overlies Borrowdale Volcanic rocks with a thin band of Coniston Limestone. Much of the site seemed rather less basic than the other local woodlands we had visited; the reason for this was not obvious, but may be to do with the fact that it lies very near the boundary of the Borrowdale rocks with the neighbouring Silurian slates.
The morning started well, with a good list of species from a decidedly basic wall by the track. Porella arboris-vitae was perhaps the pick of the crop here. Once in the wood proper the group split up, the more aquatic members following the bed of the Stencher Beck while the rest kept on (or near) the track. Bazzania trilobata (a plant seen in almost every woodland visited during the week other than those on limestone) and fruiting Hookeria were quickly found, but on the whole the beck ravine proved somewhat disappointing. Jamesoniella autumnalis, found on a rotting log well up the side of the valley, was rather a surprise, while another rotting log nearby was well colonized by Riccardia palmata. Plagiochila killarniensis, seen on a shaded rock face further up the beck, was of considerable interest but Dicranodontium denudatum had been seen so many times during the week that it was almost taken for granted!
Most of the party had to leave immediately after lunch, but John Blackburn and Mark Pool stayed on for a last-gasp attempt on what they hoped was Coniston Limestone around Jenkin Crag. In fact this rock seemed less basic than that explored during the morning, and produced no real calcicoles. There was, however, a lot of Leucobryum juniperoideum, which was some consolation.
In an area as well-worked as that around Ambleside, it is hardly surprising that the week produced no new vice-county records. However, a surprising number of new 10-km square records was made for the Mapping Scheme, and a considerable amount of much-needed recording work was done in the area's woodlands. In addition to the official excursions, there was a great amount of informal contact between members during the evenings. I know I found this very helpful, and I believe the same goes for many others. While on this topic, my thanks go to Harold Whitehouse and to Christine Rieser for showing their superb bryophyte photographs which were both entertaining and useful.
Our thanks as a society go to a variety of people and organizations. These are: whoever arranged the weather, which was perfect; the Queen's Hotel for their cuisine and their comfort (and for their tolerance of parties of booted and kitted bryologists in their lounge for the morning briefings); the various landowners who gave permission to visit, and in most cases to collect on, their land; all those who led walks, including any I may have inadvertently missed from the account above; and lastly, but by no means least, to Peter Bullard, whose sheer hard work as local secretary did so much to make the meeting the success it was.
The B.B.S. meeting in Slovakia was an opportunity to visit an area little known to most British bryologists. In the event just six members attended the meeting from the U.K.: John Blackburn, Tom Blockeel, Dick Gutteridge, Peter Martin, Ron Porley and Harold Whitehouse. Joan Gutteridge unfortunately had to pull out at the last moment, leaving her husband to cope with five bryologists. An overnight stop gave us the opportunity to look briefly around the beautiful city of Prague before flying on to Poprad next morning. Dr Rudolph oltés, of the Research Station of the Tatra National Park, was our local organiser and did an excellent job. A very informative field excursion booklet had been prepared for us, and each were presented with Dr oltés' book Tatra flowers. We were very pleased to be joined later by Prof. Jiri Váña, Thomas Homm, Blanka Buryová and Ivan Novotný.
The Tatra Mountains, a 27km long granite massif covering some 260 sq km, forms the northernmost range of the Carpathian Mountains. It is one of the most compact high mountain ranges in the world. The maximum altitude is 2655m, with many peaks over 2500m. There are frequent outcrops of limestones, schists and base-rich Mylonite. The massif is protected by several National Parks which comprise spruce-pine-larch forest, dwarf pine belt, alpine grassland, peatland systems and chionophilous vegetation. However, some areas are popular for winter sports which can all too easily damage arctic-alpine communities, and the Winter Olympics are due to be held here in 2002. Although much of the Tatra Mountains is situated in Slovakia, the northern part of the High Tatra is in Poland. The Tatras are also at the watershed of Europe. The eastern part of the Slovakian Tatras drains south into the River Poprad, which then turns north to join the River Dunajec, the longest river canyon in Central Europe. This then meets the River Vistula in Poland and so reaches the Baltic. The western Tatras, however, drain south into the Danube, on eventually to the Black Sea.
Dr oltés had prepared a wide-ranging and varied programme for us, with our own transport in a sturdy Russian-made minibus. Although some of the excursions involved long drives, this did allow us to see a good cross-section of habitats, and we were fortunate to have access along otherwise closed roads to the heads of some of the valleys.
Day 1: 14 August. Monková dolina - Zadné Med'odoly Valley
As we gathered outside our hotel in early morning sunshine our party was joined by a young Czech bryologist, Blanka Buryová (a student of Prof. Váña) and Thomas Homm from Germany. The excursion started in a glacial valley at 930m, proceeding up through spruce forest. This was our first opportunity to look at the bryophytes in the Tatra Mountains and so progress was inevitably slow. It also turned out to be one of our longest days. Under the shade of the forest we encountered plants such as Tritomaria quinquedentata, Rhizomnium magnifolium, Eurhynchium angustirete and Rhytidiadelphus subpinnatus. Rotten wood was a frequent feature, supporting Tritomaria exsecta, Cephalozia lunulifolia, Scapania umbrosa, Blepharostoma trichophyllum, Riccardia palmata and Herzogiella seligeri. Two especially nice finds were Anastrophyllum michauxii and Lophozia ascendens, the last species on the European Red List. Vascular plants were certainly not ignored, and Dr oltés pointed out the beautiful Tatra endemic Aconitum firmum. A stream added diversity, with Dichodontium pellucidum, Hygrohypnum luridum and H. ochraceum on wet rocks. As we ascended, the forest opened up and exposed rocks outcropped. The calcareous nature of the rock was evident with Scapania aequiloba, Distichium capillaceum, Gymnostomum aeruginosum, Didymodon ferrugineus, Platydictya jungermannioides, Orthothecium rufescens, O. intricatum, Campylium halleri, and Tortella tortuosa with sporophytes. On damp rock ledges bordering the stream Preissia quadrata, Pedinophyllum interruptum and Hymenostylium recurvirostrum were characteristic. Hypnum lindbergii was seen on top of a limestone boulder, a curious habitat, and Distichium inclinatum was found by Harold on thin peaty soil overlying limestone. On drier, more exposed boulders Paraleucobryum enerve, Pseudoleskea incurvata, Ptychodium plicatum, Pseudoleskeella catenulata, P. nervosa and Pterigynandrum filiforme were noted. North-facing crags, above the Pinus mugo zone, yielded other interesting plants including Sauteria alpina, and Tom collected Tritomaria scitula. Time was seemingly against us and we had to press on if we were to complete the route which would take us into the next valley. Boulder scree near to the saddle at 1930m diverted our attention again, finding Anastrepta orcadensis, Bazzania tricrenata, Timmia norvegica and T. austriaca, and growing directly on siliceous rock, Andreaea rupestris, Dicranoweisia crispula, Racomitrium sudeticum and Grimmia incurva fo. longifolia. As we reached the saddle we paused to take in the splendid rugged mountain landscape of the Belianske Tatras, and from then on it was a rapid descent to rendezvous with the awaiting bus. A Hygrohypnum in the stream here has proved difficult to name: it has a strong single leaf nerve but is probably a stout form of H. luridum rather than H. polare.
Day 2: 15 August. Temnosmrecinová Valley
A number of other people joined us today, mostly from Bratislava, to look for vascular plants. Situated between the High Tatras and the West Tatras, the Temnosmrecinová Valley winds its way through spruce forest with relict stands of Pinus cembra. We soon found Racomitrium microcarpon on rocks by the forest path, and Ron turned up Lophozia ascendens on rotting wood.
A number of small flushes occur in the valley floor and support a variety of Sphagnum species that illustrate the complex nature of the groundwater influence, including S. magellanicum, S. papillosum, S. teres, S. squarrosum, S. palustre var. centrale (S. palustre var. palustre being very rare in this part of Europe), and a fine stand of S. riparium was seen under spruce. Marsupella sprucei was collected on a stone in a runnel, and amongst the other bryophytes of these flushes were Scapania uliginosa, Philonotis seriata, Drepanocladus exannulatus and on a peaty bank Calypogeia azurea. Bryum pallescens was collected by Blanka. A small mire at 1500m was more obviously base-rich with Sphagnum subsecundum, S. russowii and Calliergon sarmentosum. As we ascended, the ground became more open and rocky with runnels and flushes dispersed around Pinus mugo. On wet skeletal soils and on rocks were many interesting plants, particularly Lophozia wenzelii and Tritomaria polita, both spotted by Tom. Other species included Jungermannia obovata, J. sphaerocarpa, Marsupella emarginata, M. sphacelata, Blindia acuta, and a fertile colony of Moerckia blyttii was much admired on wet soil in the shelter of crags. Our destination was to be two montane lakes, and the surrounding boulder strewn landscape proved to be very interesting. Several Grimmia cushions were collected, and these turned out to be G. sessitana, G. incurva fo. brevifolia and G. anomala. The latter plant, collected by Tom, had distinctive gemmae on the leaf apices. Other plants of note include Lophozia sudetica, Gymnomitrion concinnatum, Diplophyllum taxifolium, Dicranoweisia crispula, Kiaeria falcata, K. starkei, Paraleucobryum longifolium, Racomitrium sudeticum and R. lanuginosum (surprisingly rare). By now we were shrouded in billowing mist and ghostly bryologists hovered about. A splinter group reached the second, further lake and were rewarded by finding Oncophorus virens, Paraleucobryum enerve, Tortula norvegica, Pseudoleskea radicosa and Hygrohypnum duriusculum. Peter collected Lescuraea saxicola. Meanwhile, Dr oltés advised that the weather was not looking too good and that we should retreat. He was of course right, and soon the mist was augmented by heavy cold rain, and then hail the size of peas. Bryology was suspended as we concentrated on survival and negotiating the by now slippery boulders. One could tell that Dick's mind was more on a warming Carpathian brandy awaiting him back at the hotel.
Day 3: 16 August. Juráñova Valley
We were very pleased to be joined by Professor Váña, and set out on a cool cloudy morning, but had at least dried out from yesterday's soaking. After a long detour around the southern boundary of the National Park we arrived at a rich fen near Oravice, one of many mire communities within this valley showing boreal phytogeographical elements. Almost immediately our spirits soared as we found the handsome Paludella squarrosa and abundant Tomentypnum nitens. Our excitement was further fuelled by finding the relict boreal Meesia triquetra amongst the rather dense sedge. Other associates included Sphagnum warnstorfii, S. teres, Fissidens adianthoides, Plagiomnium elatum, P. ellipticum, Aulacomnium palustre, Climacium dendroides, Campylium stellatum, Drepanocladus vernicosus, D. cossonii and a small amount of Moerckia hibernica. Philonotis calcarea and P. fontana were both present, and Blanka, who is something of an expert on this genus, explained the subtle vegetative differences between them. Much discussion ensued when a robust Hypnum-type plant was found by Ron, and eventually the name of Hypnum pratense was unanimously agreed upon, a plant not known from this site and a rarity in Slovakia. After some lunch we checked out a small isolated area of relict raised bog near Zuberec. Unfortunately succession had taken its toll; the mire was drying out and few species of interest, apart from Sphagnum russowii, remained. However an abundance of the continental Ledum palustre was good to see, and the willow gentian, Gentiana asclepiadea, was in fine form. Of considerably more interest though was an arable field, reclaimed no doubt from the former raised bog adjacent. Harold was in his element, and it turned out that, amongst the Bryum he collected, there was Bryum demaretianum in only its second European locality. Other notable finds were Atrichum tenellum, Ditrichum pusillum, Pohlia lescuriana and Bryum tenuisetum. Harold subsequently observed that the arable fields of Slovakia bore some remarkable similarities in their bryophytes to those of Quebec, where he has also found Bryum demaretianum. On the way back to our hotel we made a brief stop to look at one or two roadside trees south of Zuberec and turned up Pylaisia polyantha and Orthotrichum pumilum (on Populus tremula).
Day 4: 17 August. Vajskovská Valley
Today's excursion started with another long drive to reach the Vajskovská Valley situated in the Low Tatras. Our primary objective was to re-find the European Red List plant Ochyraea tatrensis, discovered here by Prof. Váña in 1985. To reach the locality at 1560m we had to proceed fairly rapidly through spruce forest and on through the Pinus mugo zone, giving little time to look at bryophytes. It took much of the morning, in hot conditions, finally to come across the mountain stream. Prof. Váña soon located the exact spot and showed Ochyraea tatrensis to an enthralled audience. Under the lens the opaque multistratose leaves are clearly discernible and we pondered its affinities to other disjunct genera in the world. It was seen in three separate places in the stream, but Prof. Váña was convinced that it had declined since his last visit. However, he also told us that he had discovered the plant in another stream in a nearby valley; this gives some optimism for its survival. Equally interesting was that its main associate was Hygrohypnum smithii, with sporophytes. Many other species were present on the wet rocks including Jungermannia pumila, J. obovata, Scapania undulata, Dicranella palustris and Rhynchostegium riparioides. The flushed ground in the vicinity of the stream supported Scapania uliginosa, Sphagnum teres, Polytrichum alpinum, Rhizomnium magnifolium, Philonotis seriata and Calliergon sarmentosum. On rocks we found Gymnomitrion concinnatum, Paraleucobryum longifolium, Racomitrium sudeticum, R. aciculare, R. aquaticum, Grimmia muehlenbeckii (G. trichophylla var. tenuis) and Pterigynandrum filiforme. The long descent to rendezvous with the bus left little time for bryology although Hypnum pallescens was seen on the bark of Sorbus aucuparia. On the way back to the hotel our thirsts were slaked as we stopped off at a natural spring where some of us filled our bottles with effervescent mountain water!
Day 5: 18 August. Javorový Z'lab, Cervené vrchy
Before breakfast a small but keen party visited some cultivated ground towards the village of Stará Lesná to look for arable plants, led by Harold. The ground was very dry though and not very productive, but we did find Dicranella staphylina, Pohlia melanodon and Bryum klinggraeffii. Following breakfast we were joined by Prof. Váña, who suggested we might try a different locality to the one given in our excursion guide. This proved to be an excellent move. The site was relatively close by, in the High Tatras. Soon after we set off, Harold and Tom collected Plagiomnium medium growing on rocks close to a stream. As we gained altitude our list rapidly grew with such plants as Tortula norvegica, Tortella fragilis, Mnium stellare, M. spinosum, Ptychodium plicatum and Brachythecium geheebii, a species on the European Red List. On limestone cliffs at and near a cave we found Seligeria trifaria, Gymnostomum aeruginosum, Cirriphyllum cirrosum, and Orthothecium rufescens. On the floor of the cave was abundant Marchantia polymorpha ssp. montivagans, and in a rock crevice Bryum stirtonii, found by Tom. Desmatodon latifolius, Timmia austriaca and T. norvegica were seen nearby on rocky ground.
After lunch, we headed for higher ground at about 1700m and eventually came upon a sheltered rocky gully with fine views of the High Tatras. The sheer variety of bryophytes that confronted us here was incredible. The list is a long one but includes Peltolepis quadrata, Sauteria alpina, Asterella lindenbergiana, Leiocolea alpestris, L. heterocolpos, Barbilophozia lycopodioides, Jungermannia confertissima, Anthelia juratzkana, Distichium capillaceum, Oncophorus virens, Encalypta alpina, Tayloria froelichiana with capsules, Mnium thomsonii, M. ambiguum, Meesia uliginosa, Timmia norvegica, Heterocladium dimorphum, Hypnum recurvatum and Hylocomium pyrenaicum. There was also a small Scapania of section Curtae, probably S. helvetica, but unfortunately sterile. We were reluctant to leave such a rich area but time was getting short. On the way down, as we passed through spruce forest, we saw some fine stands of Rhytidiadelphus subpinnatus. This was, we all agreed later, probably the most bryologically interesting day we had in the Tatras.
Day 6: 19 August. 'Lazy' Meadows near Pribylina.
After two days on the high ground, we had a short easy day in the field on day 6, and the name of our destination seemed curiously appropriate. The site at 'Lazy' Meadows is a wetland on gently sloping ground where calcareous springs emerge over granite bedrock, creating areas of flushed ground and fen. The habitat was therefore rather different from the mire at Oravice which we visited on day 3, and it was not quite so rich. However, there was a greater quantity of Paludella squarrosa, which grew in some very fine patches, and Hypnum pratense was again present. Other mire species included Sphagnum teres, S. warnstorfii, S. angustifolium, Plagiomnium elatum, Drepanocladus cossonii, Tomentypnum nitens and Calliergon giganteum.
We finished our exploration soon after lunch, and had a free afternoon. Most members decided to visit a nearby Museum, but Harold and Tom spent some time in the adjacent arable fields. These were very dry for the most part, but Harold found a damp corner and eventually turned up Riccia sorocarpa, Ditrichum pusillum, D. cylindricum and Dicranella staphylina, along with some immature Anthoceros and Fossombronia species. (The Anthoceros later matured in the laboratory and turned out to be A. agrestis.) On poplar trees by the road there were small amounts of Orthotrichum pumilum and Pylaisia polyantha.
Day 7: 20 August. Dunajec Canyon, Pieniny National Park.
The Pieniny National Park, to the east of the High Tatras, is an area of wooded calcareous hills in the Carpathian 'klippen' zone. The Dunajec river forms a fine canyon separating the greater part of the park in Poland from the smaller part in Slovakia. The river is popular with rafters, and as this was a Sunday a constant (but one-way) procession of rafts passed us by as we walked the river banks.
Our visit began, however, when we were conducted around the Red Monastery (Cervený Klástor) at the western entrance to the Canyon. This former Carthusian Monastery is now being redeveloped as a Museum. From here the riverside path leads north-eastwards through Spruce and Beech woods on craggy limestone. The bryophyte flora has much in common with that of our British limestone hills, but with a more continental flavour. Anomodon attenuatus was common on the rocks, and Cirriphyllum tommasinii was eventually located on some shaded crags. A straight-leaved Hypnum growing over the limestone rocks was at first thought to be Callicladium haldanianum but has now been identified as H. cupressiforme var. subjulaceum. It is a distinctive plant, with sharply pointed branches and excavated, brown leaf auricles. Other species noted on the shaded limestone included Apometzgeria pubescens, Pedinophyllum interruptum, Lophocolea minor, Scapania calcicola, S. aequiloba, Cololejeunea calcarea, Didymodon ferrugineus, Seligeria donniana, Plagiobryum zieri, Mnium thomsonii, Plagiopus oederianus, Pseudoleskeella catenulata, Taxiphyllum wisgrillii and Homomallium incurvatum. Eurhynchium angustirete was on the woodland floor, and Jamesoniella autumnalis, Jungermannia leiantha, Nowellia curvifolia and Herzogiella seligeri were noted on rotting wood. The epiphytes also had a continental flavour, and included Pseudoleskeella nervosa (on lime), Platygyrium repens (on sycamore) and Amblystegium subtile (on beech).
The path along the canyon was easy but the walk was fairly long and we had to be hurried along at times. Along the latter part of the route there were some steep bare cliffs which support a rare chrysanthemum Dendranthema zawadskii. The bryophytes here included abundant Pseudoleskeella catenulata, along with Thuidium abietinum, Hypnum vaucheri and Rhytidium rugosum. A robust Homalothecium on the rocks was thought to be H. philippeanum, but appears in fact to be H. lutescens, in a form similar to that which occurs on the Pennine limestones in Britain.
We left the river just south of the Polish border, near the village of Lesnica. The path passed some sunny crags noted for various Grimmias, but we had little time to explore them, and in any case rain clouds were gathering. However a hurried collection was later found to include a few stems of Grimmia tergestina. We arrived back at our bus just in time to avoid a heavy rain shower. The intriguing mystery of the one-way rafts was also solved, when we saw them being loaded onto lorries to be driven back to the head of the canyon!
Day 8: 21 August. Suchá Belá Gorge, Slovak Paradise.
This day saw our second visit to the Low Tatra Mountains, in the wild wooded hills known as the Slovak Paradise (Slovenský Raj) south of Poprad. We drove to Podlesok and walked up the Suchá Belá gorge, a deep ravine negotiated only with the help of bridges and ladders (not for the faint of heart!). Although the base of the ravine is at an altitude of only 550m, the cool conditions allow the occurrence of some alpine species.
There was much wet limestone along the bottom of the gorge and it was not long before we were able to see Barbula crocea near the stream. We soon assembled a long list of species characteristic of wet shaded limestone, including Pedinophyllum interruptum, Scapania aequiloba, Lejeunea cavifolia, Cololejeunea calcarea, Seligeria donniana, S. acutifolia, Campylium halleri, Orthothecium rufescens and O. intricatum. A particularly interesting find was Hypnum sauteri, a tiny plant with strongly falcate leaves, growing in thin mats closely appressed to the wet rock. Among the many other species observed on wet ledges and shaded crags were Moerckia hibernica, Barbilophozia barbata, Trichocolea tomentella, Didymodon ferrugineus, Plagiobryum zieri, Plagiopus oederianus, Amblyodon dealbatus, Timmia bavarica, T. austriaca, Pseudoleskeella catenulata and Thuidium recognitum.
There were many logs and tree stumps in the bottom of the gorge and the wet conditions favoured a rich growth of bryophytes. In addition to the widespread Ptilidium pulcherrimum, Riccardia palmata and Herzogiella seligeri, we saw both Jungermannia leiantha and Jamesoniella autumnalis with perianths, and also Tritomaria exsecta, Cephalozia catenulata, C. leucantha, Nowellia curvifolia and Calypogeia suecica. For many of us, however, the highlight of the day was the discovery of Buxbaumia viridis in two places, at first a single capsule on a decayed log and later at least six more capsules on a single stump. Epiphytes on the living trees included Leucodon sciuroides, Neckera pumila, Anomodon attenuatus and Platygyrium repens.
The steep gorge sides made it difficult to examine the woodland ground flora in any detail, but Plagiomnium medium, Eurhynchium angustirete and Ptilium crista-castrensis were noted. In the upper part of the gorge there were pockets of acid ground on peaty humus, with increasing quantities of Mylia taylorii and small patches of Bazzania trilobata, Sphagnum quinquefarium and Bartramia halleriana. Also collected on ledges near the head of the gorge were Brachythecium glareosum and Eurhynchium speciosum. However our exploration of this area was curtailed by gathering storm clouds, and Dr oltés led us on a hasty retreat down a woodland path to the car park. Not all of us escaped the deluge!
Day 9: 22 August. Smutná Dolina.
This day, in the West Tatras, was to be our last on the high ground. Smutná Dolina is a cirque valley-head branching from the Rohácska Dolina valley. It has a fine series of north- to north-west-facing crags, partly formed of base-rich rock (Mylonite). The valley bottom is granite. Unfortunately its position to the north-west of the Banikov/Ostrý Rohác ridge necessitated a long drive round the West Tatras to the head of the Rohácska Dolina. Fortunately the road leads high into the valley and it was only a short walk into the bottom of Smutná Dolina.
The area below the saddle at the head of the valley was known to have a rich flora, including the interesting relict liverwort Bucegia romanica (Marchantiaceae), a species confined in Europe to the Carpathian chain. However as the saddle was still over a kilometre distant we decided that our time would be better spent on the nearer crags of Ostrý Rohác towering above the base of the valley. This decision was amply justified, as the crags (at 1700-1800m) proved to have a very exciting flora. It was particularly frustrating, therefore, that our exploration was hampered by a prolonged spell of heavy rain and a period of dense mist. Those of us who reached the high crags were duly rewarded with some fine patches of Bucegia romanica growing on thin soil on rock ledges and in crevices. The long list of other species noted on the main crags included Peltolepis quadrata c.fr., Sauteria alpina, Barbilophozia hatcheri, Eremonotus myriocarpus, Tritomaria polita, Jungermannia subelliptica, Scapania cuspiduligera, Anthelia juratzkana, Cephalozia ambigua, Bazzania tricrenata, Ditrichum zonatum, Saelania glaucescens, Encalypta alpina, E. ciliata, Geheebia gigantea, Grimmia funalis, Bryum elegans, Meesia uliginosa, Timmia austriaca, Amphidium lapponicum, Myurella julacea, Lescuraea saxicola, Pseudoleskea patens, Ptychodium plicatum, Cratoneuron curvicaule, Campylium halleri, Brachythecium glaciale, Cirriphyllum cirrosum, Isopterygiopsis muelleriana, Orthothecium rufescens, Hypnum callichroum, H. bambergeri and Hylocomium pyrenaicum. Some of these were detected only in small quantity in material collected for examination, and undoubtedly we missed many other species because of the poor conditions.
The granite valley bottom with boulders and Pinus mugo thickets, and the adjacent scree slopes, produced some additional species collected en route. These included Lophozia sudetica, Mylia taylorii, Gymnomitrion concinnatum, Diplophyllum taxifolium, Bazzania trilobata (under the Pinus mugo), B. tricrenata, Polytrichum sexangulare, Kiaeria starkei, K. blyttii, Grimmia sessitana and G. incurva.
This was a wonderful place, and had the conditions been better it would probably have outdone Javorovy Z'lab as the most memorable venue of the meeting.
Day 10: 23 August. Belianske Lúky Meadows.
Our final day began with a visit to the newly created botanical gardens at the Research Station in Tatranská Lomnica, entirely stocked with local native plants.
From there we moved to the Belianske Lúky meadows near Tatranská Kotlina, which form an extensive area of wetlands irrigated by underground calcareous water draining from the Belianske Tatry mountains. Unfortunately, with the cessation of grazing, we found them to be largely overgrown with tall herbs and encroaching scrub, and there were very few open areas of fen. It was not surprising that we failed to find many of the species which we had seen at the two previous wetland sites. Plagiomnium elatum, Campylium elodes, Drepanocladus cossonii, Tomentypnum nitens and Calliergon giganteum were among those noted.
We finished our visit by lunchtime, and this gave Harold and others a further opportunity to explore arable fields. They collected Riccia glauca, Ditrichum cylindricum, Dicranella staphylina, Bryum klinggraeffii and B. violaceum. Orthotrichum speciosum and O. striatum were collected on nearby trees.
This was the end of serious bryology for the day and the meeting and we spent the afternoon visiting the nearby Belianska Jaskyña caves. Later we were treated to an excellent al fresco meal in the forest near Tatranská Lomnica an excellent goulash of wild boar cooked in large cauldrons, and accompanied by rather more liquid refreshment than most of us could manage! We expressed our gratitude to Dr oltés, and also to the National Park authorities who had co-operated with our visit and helped to make it such a success. There was some lively discussion about conservation of the flora, and Ron could not resist stating his strong views about the need for positive management of the wetlands, which otherwise would soon be lost.
All of us who participated in the meeting saw new species, and no doubt each of us left with our different impressions of the flora. We were able to see some 30 species which are unknown (or extinct) in the British Isles. Striking for British bryologists were the plentiful occurrence of Leskeaceae, and the fine array of montane Marchantiales. It was particularly pleasing to have the opportunity to see taxa such as Bucegia which have a disjunct and fragmented range in the northern hemisphere. We were also able to make a significant contribution to the knowledge of the local flora, with localities for several species new to, or very rare in, Slovakia. We are very grateful to Dr oltés for his hard work and efficiency in organising the meeting.
T.L. BLOCKEEL & R.D. PORLEY
The attendance at this meeting was unusually low, no doubt owing at least in part to the entrancing alternative of the Tatra only a few days later. The leader, Stuart Hedley of the Northumbria Team of English Nature, ministered to the regulars Frank Lammiman, Christine Rieser and Cliff Townsend, together with a welcome Belgian bryologist, Alain Vanderpoorten. John Blackburn came up on five days, Dr John Richards for three, and Steve Wharton for one.
Excursions were chiefly in S. Northumberland (v.-c. 67), with forays into N. Northumberland (v.-c. 68) and Durham (v.-c. 66). The meeting took place in arguably the hottest and driest part of a hot, dry summer tiring, and with bryophytes so desiccated that sprays were in constant use. The main object was recording of bryophytes in English Nature sites, mostly designated S.S.S.I. or National Nature Reserve.
Thursday, 27 July
On this first day a long journey was made to The Cheviot, where the well-known locality of the Bizzle Burn was investigated usually just referred to as The Bizzle, though on this occasion it might more aptly have been called The Frizzle! This stream, bordered with extensive outcrops of granite and smaller areas of base-rich lavas, had been visited on two previous B.B.S. meetings based on Wooler in 1963 and 1984. No doubt owing to the longer journey, fewer pairs of eyes and the very dry conditions, much seen on these earlier trips was missed. However, John Blackburn turned up Hygrohypnum duriusculum* in the swift upper part of the stream, and other species of interest included Andreaea alpina, Kiaeria blyttii, Barbilophozia atlantica, Fissidens osmundoides, Grimmia torquata, Plagiobryum zieri, Sphagnum russowii, Gymnomitrion obtusum and Cololejeunea calcarea. In spite of considerable attention to small, flat, reddish patches of Andreaea, an attempt to refind A. mutabilis, collected here in 1930 by J.B. Duncan and Evelyn Lobley, was unsuccessful.
Friday, 28 July
The morning of the second day was spent in Hareshaw Dene, an SSSI with a wooded river gorge cut through sandstones of the Lower Carboniferous, situated just north of Bellingham. This produced many of the species which might have been expected of such a situation, including Scapania gracilis, Dicranum fuscescens, Fissidens crassipes, Neckera crispa, Hookeria lucens and Hyocomium armoricum, but without the richness that might be encountered in similar areas in western England. Dicranella cerviculata and Pohlia annotina occurred on a bank of fine sandy soil by the stream but a clearly base-rich area nearby was disappointing, containing only common species. Sphagnum fimbriatum was near the stream, and in the upper parts of it Jungermannia atrovirens was common, with occasional J. pumila. Rocks by the path not far below the small waterfall at the head of the dene produced a good quantity of fruiting Tetrodontium brownianum, while a rocky cavity near the fall itself yielded Seligeria pusilla and S. donniana; Scapania umbrosa was on a single rotting log. In the afternoon we moved on to Hesleyside Park, also with old mature woodland, a smaller stream and waterfall, but much drier and less extensive. It supports a rich lichen flora, but a much less exciting assembly of bryophytes, of which the most noteworthy were Dicranum fuscescens, Hookeria lucens, Pseudephemerum nitidum, Blepharostoma trichophyllum and Plagiothecium latebricola. Tetrodontium brownianum turned up here also, in two localities not far below the waterfall, as did Scapania umbrosa.
Saturday, 29 July
Kielder Forest is a horribly extensive area of planted conifers, but our objective was an area of unplanted moorland west of this, on the borders of Northumberland and Cumbria, though the sandstone crags we were to inspect are all within v.-c. 67 and rarely visited. The first stop was at Gill Pike. At first sight the small area of acid crag with large outcropping boulders in the surrounding moorland was uninspiring, but it was here that the most pleasing find of the week, Dicranodontium asperulum*, new to England, was made. There was also a good haul of Barbilophozia, Alain turning up B. kunzeana, Christine B. atlantica, and there was a good deal of B. attenuata; also present were Bazzania trilobata and Mylia taylorii in quantity. Nine species of Sphagnum occurred on the surrounding moorland, including S. tenellum, S. compactum and S. magellanicum. A distant view of Grey Mare's Crags, also considered for a visit, showed them to be even more limited and, a long trudge through deep untracked heather in the heat being felt unattractive, it was decided to adjourn to a more accessible site. Pippa Merricks, our E.N. mentor while Stuart had his day off, then took us to Seven Linns, an attractive stream area with a gorge below. Only a flying visit was possible, and we did not get into the gorge. Little remarkable was found in the way of bryophytes, though Christine turned up Scapania subalpina and a dark form of Hyocomium armoricum growing in a rather dry rock crevice perplexed us in the field. Alain did, however, find the filmy fern Hymenophyllum wilsonii, a rarity in Northumberland.
A move was then made to Muckle Samuel's Crags (soon conveniently abbreviated to 'Big Sam's'), another area known for good lichens but apparently not investigated for bryophytes. On the conveniently trackside small system of crags and boulders, Dr Oliver Gilbert, our companion for the day engaged on a lichen survey, was able to demonstrate some of the rarer species of these plants. The bryophytes were of interest, the more engaging being Dicranum scottianum, Leptodontium flexifolium and Lepidozia cupressina; Scapania gracilis, Bazzania trilobata, Lophozia ventricosa var. ventricosa* and Ptilidium ciliare were also around, while just before departure John B. turned up Dicranella staphylina and Alain found a single tuft of Tetraplodon mnioides. Tiny tufts along crevices raised hopes of Orthodontium gracile, but subsequent large swards and later microscopic examination sadly dashed these hopes.
Sunday, 30 July
The first visit of the day was to the famed valley mire, Muckle Moss, near Bardon Mill. This had clearly suffered in the drought. Many Sphagna were desiccated, and those who had visited the mire some years before remarked that it was now much easier to walk across, and very little of the surface water which previously characterised the deep lagg area was to be seen. Although eight of the commoner species of Sphagnum were found neither of the two specialities, S. balticum and S. majus, was encountered by anyone. The known association of S. balticum and Andromeda polifolia led Cliff to spend most of his time looking for Dicranum leioneuron, of which two small colonies were found; the only previous Northumberland record of this species was from Haining Head Moss, some distance westward. Other notable bryophytes seen were Calliergon stramineum, Polytrichum alpestre, Calypogeia sphagnicola, Cephalozia connivens, Mylia anomala and Odontoschisma sphagni. In the afternoon a visit was paid to the Mill Burn at Elsdon, some distance to the north-east. This is a stream on the Carboniferous Limestone with basic flushes and Sesleria grassland. The bryophyte flora was not rich, but included a few species not encountered previously, such as Climacium dendroides, Philonotis calcarea, Pohlia carnea, Campylium stellatum and Aneura pinguis.
Monday, 31 July
On this day we were allocated the Muggleswick Woods and Derwent Gorge National Nature Reserve an extensive area of woodland on sheltered slopes about four miles WSW of Consett. The upper slopes are of dry acidic soils, but damper base-rich soils occur along the bottom of the Derwent Gorge. Here again it would seem that the lichen flora is richer than that of the bryophytes, but species of interest occurred principally along the stream, though one patch of Brachythecium glareosum was found on a sandy/marly bank descending towards this. One peculiarity of the week hitherto had been the total absence of Orthotricha; here, however, we came across five O. affine, O. anomalum, O. diaphanum, O. stramineum and O. striatum. as well as both varieties of Ulota crispa. Species worth mentioning in the river and areas adjacent were Hygrohypnum luridum, Bryum flaccidum, Cirriphyllum piliferum, Dicranum tauricum c.fr. on a single rotting tree, Tetraphis pellucida also c.fr., Calypogeia arguta, Jungermannia atrovirens, Mnium stellare, Homalia trichomanoides and Scapania nemorea. Pseudephemerum nitidum and Dicranella schreberiana were found in damp cart ruts.
Tuesday, 1 August
For the final day the well-known locality of Widdybank Fell in Upper Teesdale was scheduled. This too was considerably desiccated, and streams which would normally be running sufficiently to irrigate the tufts of Gymnostomum recurvirostrum and other bryophytes growing along them were now almost totally dried up. We made our way across sugar limestone patches and the acid ground between, finding Breutelia chrysocoma, Bryum inclinatum, B. algovicum var. rutheanum, Campylium chrysophyllum, C. stellatum and var. protensum, Fissidens dubius (cristatus), Gymnostomum aeruginosum, Didymodon ferrugineus (Barbula reflexa), Lophozia excisa, Ditrichum crispatissimum, Philonotis calcarea, Racomitrium canescens, R. ericoides and R. elongatum, Leiocolea alpestris, Cololejeunea calcarea, Rhytidium rugosum, Tortella densa and Calliergon sarmentosum. From here we passed through peat haggs to the top of Falcon Clints, finding Dicranella cerviculata on vertical peat banks. Although several pairs of beady eyes sought it, Aplodon wormskjoldii was not seen merely its poor relation Splachnum ovatum.
Working along the top of Falcon Clints, two or three species of the Racomitrium heterostichum group were found, together with Grimmia trichophylla. Continual sampling was made of fruiting nervate Andreaea looking at all unlike the masses of A. rothii spp. falcata, in the hopes of rediscovering A. megistospora, collected here by Black in 1854. This collecting continued beneath the crags, but in vain in spite of use of the spray; all gatherings subsequently proved to be rothii. On rock ledges on the crags were found Gymnomitrion obtusum, Diphyscium foliosum, Grimmia funalis, G. torquata, Campylopus atrovirens, Bryum alpinum, Rhabdoweisia crenulata and R. fugax. Meanwhile, other members of the party were in constant danger of immersion as they scraped rocks in the river in search of Schistidium agassizii, Steve being successful in finding a single small piece, also picking up Hygrohypnum eugyrium. Both subspecies of Schistidium rivulare were about, as was Racomitrium aquaticum and, on a rock by the river, Pterogonium gracile.
So ended a week which, although not notable for assemblies of rarities, still allowed all participating the chance of seeing something new, and of rendering good service to English Nature. Sincere thanks are due to Stuart Hedley and Pippa Merricks of E.N. for organizing, and guiding us on, our excursions, and to John Richards for sharing his fund of local knowledge. I am grateful to those participating for sending notes and records which have helped in the preparation of this report.
University of East Anglia, Norwich, 8-10 September
The modernistic setting of the campus of the University of East Anglia was the venue for this year's AGM meeting, though many of the concrete structures that must have looked futuristic in the 1960s are now showing their age, with a attractive veneer of mosses and lichens becoming evident. Thanks are due to all the speakers at this meeting and especially to Mr Richard Fisk, whose efficient and caring organization of the weekend ensured that a good time was had by all. The following summaries of talks have been provided by the authors.
Prof. J.G. Duckett (Queen Mary and Westfield College, London), Mr N.G. Hodgetts (JNCC, Peterborough) & Mr H.W. Matcham (Chichester): 'Bryologizing in Lesotho.'
The object of this trip, funded by the British Council, was to carry out bryophyte surveys on the last remaining substantial piece of forest in the country, Leucosidea woodland in the upper Hlotse valley, and on montane bogs, and also to make bird lists for each locality as far as possible, with the intention of drawing attention to the importance of these habitats for bryophytes and the threats to them, and making recommendations for their conservation. The fieldwork was carried out with the co-operation of the Lesotho Highland Development Authority (LHDA). Additional principal members of the expedition were Mrs Louise Matcham, who listed all the birds seen, and Setenani Nkopane, an ecologist with the LHDA.
Lesotho is little-known bryologically, with a current list of 165 mosses and 39 liverworts. A country of c. 30,000 sq. km (11,700 sq. miles), it is surrounded by South Africa, and is the only country in the world with all its borders over 1000 m. The geology is extremely simple: the western lowlands, which are mostly extremely degraded because of overgrazing and deforestation, being sandstone, the eastern uplands basalt, though there are a few higher sandstone outcrops. There are no native forests left in the lowlands, but much planting of poplars, eucalyptus and pine has taken place. The overgrazing has been so severe in the lowlands that wide ravines, or dongas, have appeared because of erosion. The highland parts of the country, where the vegetation is less degraded, consist of a series of roughly north-south mountain ranges, all of which exceed 3000 m in altitude, culminating in the Drakensbergs on the eastern border with Natal.
Time was found for some general bryology in the lowland sandstone areas around Roma, Maseru, Leribe and Qacha's Nek. Rock outcrops produced several liverworts new to the country. Reservoir and pool margins were productive for species of Riccia and the strange little Cladophascum gymnomitrioides. Epiphytes were rather few, but where they occurred typical species included Orthotrichum diaphanum, Tortula ammonsiana, T. pagorum and Fabronia pilifera. Other common species included Plagiochasma rupestre, Barbula crinita, Bartramia hampeana, Bryum alpinum, B. torquescens, Brachythecium implicatum, Ptychomitrium cucullatum, Trichostomum brachydontium and members of the Leskeaceae (Pseudoleskea and Lindbergia). Other attractions of the sandstone included some frankly unconvincing dinosaur footprints.
Several days were spent in the woodland of the upper Hlotse valley, where Leucosidea (Rosaceae) is the dominant tree, some specimens of which are up to 300 years old. The woodland here, the only known surviving relic of Leucosidea forest in Lesotho, is unofficially protected by having a large pipeline construction scheme at the bottom, thus preventing access from the villages further down the valley. It is rather Mediterranean in character, fairly dry, with a lot of epiphytic Orthotrichaceae. One almost untouched area was found in a ravine, with bamboo and luxuriant bryophytes. Bryophytes seen included Acanthocoleus chrysophyllus, Plagiochila squamulosa var. crispulo-caudata, Leucolejeunea rotundistipula, Anacolia breutelii, Anoectangium wilmsianum, Haplocladium angustifolium, Orthotrichum subexsertum, Thuidium matarumense and Zygodon leptobolax.
Moving to the north of the country, several of the highland bogs in the Oxbow and Mokhotlong areas were surveyed. There is no Sphagnum in these bogs, but they are peat-forming, composed mainly of a distinctive and attractive suite of vascular plants such as the endemic Aponogeton ranunculiflorus in pools, and a large number of small, flowering herbs. Many of the bogs have deteriorated badly in the last 30 years because of overgrazing. The few we saw that remained relatively intact had a limited but interesting bryophyte flora, much of which had to be extracted from the rather spiky tussocks of Merxmuellera grass. Species included Haplomitrium gibbsiae and Leptodontium proliferum, both new to Africa, as well as more common plants. The high altitude basalt rock crags that often stood over the margins of the bogs were also extremely interesting for bryophytes, particularly on the border with Natal at Sani Pass, where there seemed to be a distinctly Antarctic element to the bryophyte flora. Some of the more notable plants recorded included Adelanthus lindenbergianus, Scapania cuspiduligera, Amphidium tortuosum, Andreaea spp., Anomobryum drakensbergense, Gymnostomum bewsii, Tortella fragilis, and the Drakensberg endemics Quathlamba debilicostata and Orthotrichum oreophilum. The recently described Cryptomitrium oreades was seen on a riverside near Oxbow.
Several days were spent examining Leucosidea woodland in Natal, where, because of climatic factors, the bryophyte flora was quite different from that of the Lesotho woodland, being generally richer in species and more luxuriant, and including tropical elements such as members of the Lejeuneaceae and Meteoriaceae.
The expedition was therefore successful purely as a bryophyte collecting trip, with many species found new to Lesotho, several new to southern Africa and to the continent, and at least one probably new to science. It is hoped that our findings (in the form of a report to the British Council) will contribute to the conservation of some of the unique and highly threatened areas examined.
Mr K.I. Kingham, Prof. J.G. Duckett, Dr A.R. Leitch and Dr M.C.P. Glyn (Queen Mary and Westfield College, London): 'Nuclear and cytoplasmic differentiation in the protonemata of Funaria hygrometrica.'
Different cell types have nuclei that vary in shape, volume, structure (Bennett, 1984), organization of chromatin (Manueldis & Borden, 1988) and distribution of nuclear proteins (Zirbil et al., 1993).
In this study, the changes in cytoplasmic organization and interphase nucleus reorganization are being examined in the caulonemata of the moss Funaria hygrometrica Hedw. Moss caulonemata are ideal for investigating inter-relationships between nuclear and cytoplasmic differentiation as these single files of differentiating cells show consistent developmental features. Fully differentiated caulonemal cells are morphologically similar to the food conducting tissues of gametophytes and sporophytes of mosses (Ligrone & Duckett, 1994) and parallel the development of phloem in the stele of tracheophytes. Kingham et al. (1995) found that, near the apices of caulonemal filaments, phenomena such as polarized tip growth, nuclear and cell division and side branch initiation are associated with haploid nuclei (IC DNA amount, 0.5 pg). These are spherical or slightly oval, with no blocks of condensed chromatin, and have a large nucleolus consisting mainly of a granular component. As caulonemal cells mature, the plastids become suspended along endoplasmic strands, the cell walls become thickened and pigmented and the majority of the organelles lie towards the apical ends of the cells. These cytoplasmic changes occur alongside major reorganization of the nucleus, which becomes endoreduplicated by amplification of the IC genome to give mature nuclei of between 4-8C. This amplification is associated with increased nuclear volume whilst elongation of the nucleus results in a larger surface area of the nuclear envelope. Within the nucleolus, amplified ribosomal RNA genes form blocks of heterochromatin, there is an overall reduction in nucleolar volume due to a diminution in the granular component and nucleolar components become spatially separate. During this major reorganization, there is a stable distribution of the 'D' polypeptide involved in pre-mRNA splicing.
DNA methylation is thought to be a control element for gene expression (Watt & Molly, 1988) and is involved in many fundamental processes, including genomic imprinting (Lock et al., 1987) and embryo development (Li et al., 1992). It is also strongly implicated in regulating developmental transitions in higher plants (Burn et al., 1993), where expression patterns are correlated with differential methylation of the alleles or their promoter regions. To understand further the role of nuclear differentiation in development of Funaria hygrometrica caulonemata, we have treated the genome with drugs that reduce the levels of DNA methylation. Methylation is a post-synthetic modification of the DNA performed by methyltransferase; in plants it can occur by methylation of the cytosine base in CG dinucleotides and in CXG triplets (Gruenbaum et al., 1981). Using 5-azacytidine (5azaC) and dihydroxypropyladenine (DHPA) to hypomethylate the genome, we are able to perturb normal development. 5-azaC, a base analogue of cytosine, inhibits methylation (preferentially at CG dinucleotides) by incorporating into the genome and inhibiting methyltransferase activity (Li et al., 1970). DHPA inhibits S-adenosyl hydrolase (a down stream enzyme in methylation metabolism), causing feedback inhibition of CXG methylation (Benes et al., 1984). Our investigations are showing considerable changes to nuclei and cytoplasm following hypomethylation with both 5-azaC and DHPA.
Benes M, Holly A, Melichor O. 1984. Effect of 9-(2,3-dihydroxypropyl)
adenine (DHPA) on seedling roots of Vicia faba L. in comparison with adenine,
adenosine and some cytokinins. Biologia Plantarum (Praha) 26:
Dr A. Russell, Dr M. Leech & Dr T. Wang (The John Innes Centre): 'Searching for a signal for plant hormone action in the moss Physcomitrella patens.'
The plant hormone cytokinin is known to be involved in a number of processes in higher plants, such as shoot formation and chloroplast biogenesis. To date, however, very little is known concerning the action of cytokinins in promoting these effects. Cytokinins are present in mosses and cause single-celled protonemal side-branches to undergo the morphogenetic transition to meristematic buds. We are therefore using this system to try to gain insights into how the cytokinin signal is translated into a response by the cell.
Time-lapse video microscopy has been used to record the timing of the change from side-branch initial to gametophore-bud initial. This has also revealed that the fate of cell divisions of a developing gametophore is established when the bud is still a single cell. From such microscopy, it appears that the main early effects of cytokinin in P. patens are the inhibition of polarized tip growth and an increase in the numbers of chloroplasts.
It has been suggested that, similar to hormones in animals, cytokinins might work by a signal transduction system in which calcium acts as a 'secondary messenger'. To try to detect any increase in calcium in cells incubated in cytokinin, moss protonema have been microinjected with calcium-sensitive fluorescent dyes. Images of calcium distribution in protonemal cells have been obtained but calcium increases in cells incubated in cytokinin have not been visualized using these dyes.
Experiments with the calcium ionophore A23187, which facilitates the transport of calcium across the cell membrane, have suggested that calcium may be a messenger involved in responses to light such as side-branch formation. Increasing the calcium concentration of protonemal cells in this manner does not mimic cytokinin-induced bud formation, contrary to earlier reports (Saunders & Hepler, 1982).
P. patens has been tranformed with the gene for apoaequorin from the jellyfish Aequorea victoria. This compound produces luminescence on binding to calcium in the presence of coelenterazine. Transformed moss does not respond to plant hormones with a rise in cytosolic calcium as indicated by aequorin, but does respond to touch and cold-shock with with considerable transient changes in cytosolic calcium. These responses are similar to those found for tobacco (Knight et al., 1991) and show that plants are extremely sensitive to touch stimuli. Experiments with transformed moss have also demonstrated that moss can cope with large changes in cytoplasmic calcium levels.
As well as exploring possible roles for signal molecules in cytokinin signalling, we are taking a molecular approach and looking for changes in gene expression associated with plant hormones. A gene has been isolated in P. patens that corresponds to a gene involved in flowering in higher plants. Results indicate that this is a gene associated with the development of gametophores. Further work is required to determine whether plant hormones are involved in the regulation of this gene.
Saunders MJ, Hepler PK. 1982. Calcium ionophore A23187 stimulates
cytokinin-like mitosis in Funaria. Science 217: 943-945.
Mr R.C. Stern (Chichester): 'Fifteen years of BBS meetings.'
Slides of most of the twenty-seven spring and summer meetings attended by R.C. Stern between 1979 and 1984 were shown. These included group photographs taken at many of these (often including overseas members), prints of which are lodged with the BBS Photographic Archivist (Prof. M.R.D. Seaward). In several cases, individual members or small groups were shown, as well as views of the more attractive and interesting localities visited and a few of the bryophytes seen.
Among the meetings illustrated were the excursion to the Algarve in Portugal in March 1989, the international meeting based at Aigas House near Inverness in July 1988 and the IAB/BBS Sphagnum tour to various localities in Britain in July 1991.
Mr C.R. Stevenson (Kings Lynn): 'Recording in Norfolk.'
A brief outline of the history of recording in the county was followed by an account of progress made and difficulties encountered. Recent recording had established that some species were much more widespread than previously suspected, whilst a trickle of new VCRs continue to be made, even in such a well-worked county. Other species appeared to have suffered major declines, possibly to the point of extinction, although in many cases the lack of recent records probably reflected a mixture of genuine rarity and insufficient fieldwork.
After this factual introduction the talk assumed a more amusing tone, and speculated on the purpose of publishing regional floras, who they were liable to be used by and for what purposes. The appropriateness of trying to cover an area the size of Norfolk in detail was questioned, when it might perhaps be more appropriate to make detailed records of key sites of conservation interest. The talk concluded with a discussion of the appropriateness of writing accounts of the ecology of species which added little, if anything, to the store of already available information.
Mr R. Woods (Countryside Council for Wales, Llandrindod Wells): 'Bryophyte communities.'
Under this all-embracing title, our current understanding of plant communities dominated by mosses and liverworts was reviewed. The National Vegetation Classification, now nearing completion, has revitalised an interest in plant communities. No environmental assessment of a site would be considered adequate without a description of its vegetation communities, in addition to a description of the species it supports.
Unfortunately, the NVC as yet fails to cover a number of important bryophyte-dominated communities and includes in its floristic tables barely a third of the British bryophyte flora. Notable omissions identified include epiphytic and many epilithic communities.
The lichenologists have available a preliminary conspectus of lichen communities in the British Isles by James, Hawksworth and Rose in Lichen Ecology, edited by Seaward (Academic Press, London, 1977). A proposal was aired that BBS members should consider collecting data to enable a comparable conspectus for bryophyte-dominated communities to be produced. A possible outline of epiphytic communities based on available data was presented.
Field Excursion to Flordon Common and Ashwellthorpe Lower Wood, 10 September 1995
Despite earlier predictions, a cloudless blue sky and warm sunshine were an encouraging start for the day's excursion. First stop was at Flordon Common, just to the south of Norwich. It is renowned for being the site of the discovery of Leiocolea rutheana in Britain and, during the First World War, Sphagnum was collected from the Common in some quantity for use in first aid dressings. Drainage and other changes have left only one small wet area but this produced plenty of interest. After some discussion the 'Drepanocladus revolvens' was pronounced as D. cossonii and some fine Moerckia hibernica with perianths tempted Harold's camera into the open. Other species recorded included Campylium stellare, Fissidens adianthoides, Rhizomnium pseudopunctatum, Scorpidium scorpioides, Sphagnum palustre, S. subnitens, Aneura pinguis, Calypogeia fissa and Pellia endiviifolia.
Our second site was at Lower Wood, Ashwellthorpe. This is a recent acquisition by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and was bryologically unknown. It consists of 93 acres of mainly ash but with some hornbeam, which is at its northern limit as a native species. Unfortunately, recent rains had not revived the bryophytes after the long hot spell so well as a certain brand of lager would have, if one believes the advertisements. Jeff Duckett spotted Ulota phyllantha almost as soon as we entered the wood but other species seen were typical of an East Anglian wood on boulder clay. These included Cirriphyllum piliferum, Eurhynchium pumilum, E. striatum, Homalia trichomanoides, Isothecium myurum, Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus and Metzgeria furcata. Most members had a long journey home, so the meeting broke up in the early afternoon after a very enjoyable day in the field, and just before rain arrived to spoil it.
Manchester Museum, 21-22 October
The theme of the workshop was the taxonomic and evolutionary significance of the moss peristome. It was held on 21-22 October at Manchester University. and was organized and led by Dr Sean Edwards. Eight members attended.
We began with an outing to the Cheshire side of the Goyt Valley to collect material. We were able to find material illustrating all the variations of the polytrichoid peristome (Polytrichum, Polytrichastrum and Pogonatum) and species with haplolepidous (Dicranella) and diplolepidous (Bartramia, Bryum) peristomes. A nice bonus was Martin Wigginton's find of Tetrodontium brownianum.
In the early evening of the first day we learned about the structure and development of the peristome. Or rather peristomes: a major theme of Dr Edwards' lecture was the importance of recognizing that polytrichoid 'peristomes' are not homologous to the peristomes of haplo- or diplolepidous mosses, and the central importance of this fact to the taxonomy.
The second day was spent in the laboratory dissecting peristomes of our various species and seeing for ourselves the features outlined in the previous day's lecture. A further talk on the evolution of the peristome gave rise to a lively discussion, and we learned useful tricks of dissection and sectioning. It was a very informative and enjoyable weekend. Thanks are due to Sean Edwards for all the work of organization and preparation, and to Sean and Salosh for entertaining us so generously at their home on the Saturday evening.