BBS > Activities > Meetings and Workshops > Previous > 2002
Meetings of the BBS - 2002
Isle of Wight, 13-20 March
The headquarters for this meeting was the Channel View Hotel at Shanklin. Mrs Lorna Snow, BBS recorder for VC 10 and local secretary for the meeting, was unable to join us for the excursions as she was caring for her sick husband but called in at the hotel on two or three occasions to check on progress. She said the meeting would be particularly useful because a new Flora of the Isle of Wight was being prepared for publication later in the year.
On the evening of Wednesday 13 March, Dr Colin Pope, the Isle of Wight County Councils ecologist, gave an introduction to the ecology of the island. He also provided maps of all the locations to be visited and reported that where necessary he had obtained permissions from the landowners concerned.
THURSDAY 14 MARCH
This mixed broadleaved ancient woodland on Hamstead Clay belongs to the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species. The BBS Southern Group had surveyed the eastern end in 1992, so we examined the western end, in steady rain. The more interesting species seen included Ctenidium molluscum (the woodland taxon), Hookeria lucens, Orthotrichum striatum, Plagiothecium latebricola and Lejeunea lamacerina. The Isle of Wight Steam Railway runs through the wood and was separately recorded. Seligeria calycina and Rhynchostegiella curviseta were found there, and members were able to admire a fine show of flowering Narrow-leaved Lungwort (Pulmonaria longifolia) which has its British headquarters in the Isle of Wight. The access to this site passed a cottage near Woodhouse Farm, where Jonathan Sleath found Grimmia ovalis* growing on a clay tiled roof.
Woods by Palmers Brook
These woods are also on the Hamstead Clay. The water level in Palmers Brook was very high after the heavy rain, so no recording was possible along the banks. Leskea polycarpa (which is rare in VC 10) was seen on trees by the river in both woods. Orthotrichum stramineum and O. striatum were found in Brocks Copse, and O. pulchellum in Woodhouse Copse.
An arable fields group looked at a field near Newbridge, where Tortella inflexa was found on a chalk stone. They also looked at another field at Wellow where Bryum violaceum* was recorded by Mark Hill and Chris Preston (it was also seen in the other field).
FRIDAY 15 MARCH
This is a very small area and almost the only existing bog on the island. In spite of heavy rain, members were able to observe the remarkable bryological richness of the site. This includes seven species of Sphagnum, Aulacomnium palustre, Philonotis fontana* (first post-1950 record), Aneura pinguis, Riccardia latifrons, Kurzia pauciflora and Cephalozia macrostachya var. macrostachya (the last collected and determined by Jean Paton).
Chenia leptophylla was found in an arable field at Brook during the 1964 BBS meeting and described as Tortula vectensis, new to science. The only member present who had been to that meeting was Jean Paton, but Rod Stern had seen the plant at various times in more recent years. When we arrived at the site, we were dismayed to see that it had just been ploughed, but fortunately a very narrow strip adjoining the roadside fence had been left, and we were able to find some Chenia plants in a few patches of bare soil.
A field at Apse Heath was surveyed by an arable fields group, and in spite of very bad weather they found twelve species, including Riccia sorocarpa.
Two chalk pits were visited. Strawberry Lane chalk pit is mainly south-facing chalk grassland with some scrub. The most interesting finds among a rich assemblage of calcicoles included Pleurochaete squarrosa, Tortula lanceola, Microbryum starckeanum, M. rectum and Scorpiurium circinatum. A splinter group looked at Lynch Lane chalk pit, which is near the previous one. As well as Pleurochaete, they recorded Didymodon acutus*, Brachythecium mildeanum and Pottiopsis caespitosa* c.fr., these being determined by Mark Hill.
An alder carr was inspected at Buddle Brook, Brighstone. Hookeria lucens was found to be locally abundant and Orthotrichum pulchellum was also seen.
SATURDAY 16 MARCH
The visit here was very brief, and mainly to check on the status of Philonotis marchica. It was found on a damp rock face but in very small quantity and much reduced compared with some years ago. Also found were Epipterygium tozeri, Anthoceros punctatus, Phaeoceros laevis and a very small amount of Blasia pusilla.
Some of the most active members went down the steep sheltered valley comprising some landslip and mature woodland. David Holyoak found Bryum donianum* (first post-1950 record) on soil on a path, and some other species seen were B. gemmiferum, Eucladium verticillatum and Hookeria lucens.
Bonchurch Landslip is near the previous site and consists of wooded slopes and Upper Greensand rock faces and boulders, some of them large. Some of the site is inaccessible. Scorpiurium circinatum was abundant on rocks and stone walls. Other species included Cololejeunea rossettiana and Mnium stellatum found by David Long (both known from here for many years), as well as Phaeoceros laevis, Leptobarbula berica with immature capsules, and Rhynchostegiella curviseta.
Needles Old Battery and Scratchells Bay were inspected by a splinter group. They found a good selection of calcicoles and some less common pottiaceous species, such as Tortula protobryoides, T. lanceola and Microbryum starckeanum, as well as the seaside mosses Hennediella heimii and Tortella flavovirens.
At the end of the afternoon, in heavy rain, several members visited Shanklin Cliffs which are much altered through recent landslips. There are now few bryophytes to be seen but Bryum gemmiferum and Anthoceros punctatus* were collected.
SUNDAY 17 MARCH
A small group visited this site, which was described at the 1964 BBS meeting as alder fen carr, but which is now much drier and lacking a number of species seen previously. Only Sphagnum fimbriatum was found out of the six Sphagnum species seen in 1964. However, some less common mosses were recorded, including Epipterygium tozeri, Plagiothecium latebricola and Platygyrium repens* (which was on trunks of several Salix trees).
Rocken End and St Catherines Point
This area (except for the part affected by recent landslips and which was inaccessible) was seen by all those attending at one time or another on this day. One of the special plants of this site is Acaulon triquetrum which was seen by most if not all those present. Other plants of interest included Tortula acaulon var. pilifera, T. viridifolia, Pterygoneurum ovatum, Bryum torquescens and Rhynchostegium megapolitanum. The weather was sunny and warm for a change.
Later in the afternoon we visited Tolt Rocks in most unpleasant wind and rain. These are a broken line of Upper Greensand rocks exposed to the west and the sea. We found plenty of Porella platyphylla but no one reported finding P. obtusata for which there had been a fairly recent record. As at the previous site, Scleropodium tourettii was frequent.
MONDAY 18 MARCH
Shide Chalk Pit
This is a Site of Special Scientific Interest near Newport, consisting of a disused chalk pit with scrub and a small stream. Fruiting Leiocolea turbinata was abundant. Mosses seen included Campylium stellatum var. stellatum, Campyliadelphus chrysophyllus, Ditrichum gracile, Encalypta streptocarpa, Eucladium verticillatum, Seligeria calycina, S. calcarea and Gymnostomum viridulum*.
Fattingpark Copse is an oak woodland on the Hamstead Clay. Although no uncommon bryophytes were found, the wood is bryologically rich with 95 species recorded. Among the more interesting mosses were Ctenidium molluscum (the woodland taxon), Dichodontium pellucidum and Entosthodon fascicularis. Didymodon nicholsonii* was found on tarmac by the road access to the wood.
TUESDAY 19 MARCH
This is an extensive area of chalk grassland above the cliffs near Freshwater. The bryoflora was somewhat limited but included Neckera crispa, Microbryum curvicolle, Pleurochaete squarrosa, Rhynchostegium megapolitanum, Scorpiurium circinatum and Weissia sterilis* (first post-1950 record).
Belonging to the National Trust, this is an area of heathland with scrubby patches and some landslips, at the western end of the island. Lophocolea semiteres* was found by David Long and Gordon Rothero on peaty slopes under Calluna in the south-west part where they also saw Polytrichum piliferum which is uncommon in VC 10. In the eastern part, other members saw some epiphytes on scrub, including five species of Orthotrichum and Leptodon smithii (the only record for this moss in the whole week).
St Helens Duver
David Holyoak and Jean Paton looked at this area of sand dunes and scrub on their way home, and found Drepanocladus aduncus s.str., Bryum dunense and Cephaloziella hampeana.
The meeting was considered to be a success in spite of generally poor weather. Lorna Snow and Colin Pope were thanked for efficient organisation of an interesting and varied programme. Jonathan Sleath has prepared an illustrated presentation of the meeting which can be viewed on the link given above.
Llandybie, Carmarthenshire, 29 June - 6 July
Our base for the meeting was Glynhir near Llandybie, an 18th century mansion house with stone-built out-buildings converted into cottages and flats, and set in 200 acres of pasture and woodland. Sam Bosanquet, Lorna Fraser, Jonathan Graham (Saturday-Wednesday), Mark Lawley, Graham Motley (local secretary), Jean Paton, Mark Pool, and David and Marjorie Rycroft stayed at Glynhir, with Richard Fisk, Roy Perry (Saturday-Monday) and Phil Stanley (Saturday-Monday) staying in other nearby accommodation. Some local naturalists joined up with us on one or more days. A BSBI group, led by Richard Pryce and Arthur Chater, was also at Glynhir for the first part of the week.
One of the main purposes of the meeting was to aid recording for a bryophyte flora of Carmarthenshire (VC 44). Many of the localities visited during the week were bryologically unexplored or under-recorded, and most sites had not been visited by Jonathan, Graham or Sam, who between them have been recording in the county on-and-off over the past ten years. Apart from what was quite literally a five-minute visit to Breconshire (VC 42) on one of the days, all localities were in VC 44.
SATURDAY 29 JUNE
Mynydd Du (SN71)
On his way to Glynhir, Sam visited three under-recorded tetrads on moorland north of Brynaman. The degraded bogs and exposed Millstone Grit block screes in the Bwlchau Rhos-fain area proved unproductive, and Nardia compressa in the Aman Fawr was the only notable species found. A disused Carboniferous Limestone quarry high on Cefn Carn Fadog (at 512 m altitude) was more interesting. Scapania cuspiduligera was locally frequent on the quarry floor and on spoil heaps, Blepharostoma trichophyllum was found on limestone spoil, and Leiocolea badensis was collected from flushed turf.
As members arrived at Glynhir mid-afternoon, most were greeted by a displaying male peacock. The noisy behaviour of this and the other peacocks/hens meant that they would be a major talking point during the week. Before dinner, Graham, Jonathan, Sam, Mark Pool and Jean set off to explore the wooded gorge in the Glynhir grounds and bumped into Mark Lawley and Lorna who were just returning from the waterfall. Mark had found Jubula hutchinsiae, a new 10-km record for the species and an excellent start to the meeting. The main group pushed on into the woodland, which proved to be rather acidic, often with a dense understorey of rhododendron and laurel. We worked our way down into the gorge, which is located on the Lower Coal Measures, and were rewarded with a fine sheet of Tunbridge Filmy-fern (Hymenophyllum tunbrigense) on the opposite bank. The gorge was very steep-sided and difficult to work. Thamnobryum alopecurum was the dominant bryophyte. Other species recor ded included Hookeria lucens, Jungermannia atrovirens, Plagiomnium rostratum, Lejeunea lamacerina and Hyocomium armoricum, with Saccogyna viticulosa, Amphidium mougeotii and Diphyscium foliosum on an outcrop near the waterfall. As we clambered back up the slope Mark Pool spotted Lophocolea fragrans on a small rock outcrop and seconds later he found Fissidens celticus in typical habitat on a sparsely vegetated bank.
SUNDAY 30 JUNE
Laugharne-Pendine Burrows (SN2508 - SN3207)
Most of us were awoken at around 6.00 a.m. by the peacocks, whose calls easily masked those of the cockerel! Richard Pryce had arranged for the BSBI and BBS groups to visit the extensive dune system at Pendine, an MOD site. Local Countryside Council for Wales conservation officers Nigel Stringer, Sarah Andrews and George Johnson joined us for the day. After much form filling we were eventually let loose on the dunes. First stop was a rather dry area where bryophyte interest was limited, but Mark Pool found Didymodon luridus and there was a fine show of Common Twayblade (Listera ovata), Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis), Early Marsh-orchid (Dactylorhiza incarnata) and Southern Marsh-orchid (D. praetermissa). Roy Perry and Phil Stanley, who had been delayed due to traffic congestion, arrived in style, escorted to our group by a police vehicle. For obvious reasons, the Ordnance Survey maps of the area show very little detail and it was often difficult to get our bearings. Luckily, David was in possession of a hand-held Global Positioning System (GPS) and regularly called out the grid references, although on several occasions the GPS went haywire, which resulted in some speculation as to the reasons why.
We quickly moved a short distance to our next stop. By the track there was a promising-looking damp area with frequent Variegated Horsetail (Equisetum variegatum), but apart from Aneura pinguis it yielded little else. Over a dune ridge, another damp area was covered in Marsh Pennywort (Hydrocotyle vulgaris) and Calliergonella cuspidata, with a little Drepanocladus polygamus and D. aduncus. Despite the rather limited bryoflora our interest was sustained by vascular plants such as Sharp Rush (Juncus acutus) and Adders-tongue (Ophioglossum vulgatum).
Further along the track, some willow scrub attracted our attention and was found to support a variety of epiphytes including Ulota phyllantha, Orthotrichum tenellum and Cololejeunea minutissima. Vascular plants in damp grassland and fen included Moonwort (Botrychium lunaria), Cyperus Sedge (Carex pseudocyperus) and Greater Bladderwort (Utricularia vulgaris). Drier dunes yielded Tortella tortuosa and Syntrichia ruraliformis. Arthur Chater demonstrated Sticky Storks-bill (Erodium lebelii) to some of us. As cars moved off to the next site, Graham and Richard were a bit slow off the mark, and it was only by sheer luck that they refound the main group amidst the maze of tracks.
At this point we separated from the BSBI group and continued to the far eastern end of the dunes to some slacks where Petalophyllum ralfsii had previously been reported. Tortella flavovirens var. flavovirens, Trichostomum brachydontium and T. crispulum were quickly located. Nearby, a relatively fresh blow-out had only a few bryophytes (mainly Bryum bicolor) but on a more muddy substrate David found Riccia cavernosa at only its second site in the vice-county. Some more mature slacks yielded Campylium stellatum, Drepanocladus polygamus and Bryum algovicum var. rutheanum, but the uncommon Drepanocladus species we were hoping for were absent.
We rejoined the BSBI group at a slack known to support Fen Orchid (Liparis loeselii). Several specimens of the orchid, some in flower, were quickly located and admired by all. Calliergonella cuspidata was again the dominant bryophyte in this area, with some more Campylium stellatum. Drepanocladus aduncus was found in a ditch. The willows had a similar epiphytic flora to that seen earlier, but with some additional species including Orthotrichum lyellii, Cryphaea heteromalla and Microlejeunea ulicina. The tarmac road leading off the dunes provided several new species for the day, including, rather unusually, Cinclidotus fontinaloides.
The bryophyte flora of the dunes was rather disappointing, although we only examined a small fraction of them and at an unfavourable time of year. It appears that the dunes have suffered in recent years due to a lack of grazing and probably a lack of disturbance by the military. However, most people were of the opinion that the quality of the vascular plants more than made up for the lack of bryophytes.
Returning to Glynhir, a few of us were keen to visit a disused dolerite quarry on the Llansteffan peninsula near Llangynog where, among other uncommon species, Sam had found Grimmia laevigata earlier in the year. By now the weather had taken a turn for the worse which tested the enthusiasm of the group. Sam was unable to relocate the original spot for G. laevigata, but did find a different tuft, thereby instantly doubling the known Carmarthenshire population of the species. He also found a tuft of a rather spiky-looking Grimmia nearby, which turned out to be G. lisae*. Rocks on the quarry floor supported Racomitrium lanuginosum, Ptychomitrium polyphyllum and Hedwigia stellata, all many kilometres from their nearest known sites. Diplophyllum obtusifolium was spotted on a friable bank and Lophozia excisa was collected from a damp part of the quarry floor. Just along the road from the quarry we stopped briefly at a roadside bank known to support a population of Rhodobryum roseum, but only a single stem could be located in the gloom.
After dinner, Richard Fisk treated us to a display of some of the digital images he had taken during the day, including some lovely shots of Riccia cavernosa and Liparis. He also demonstrated the distribution of some arable Bryum species in relation to soils in his home county of Suffolk.
MONDAY 1 JULY
Allt yr Hebog (SN6844)
Our first stop of the day was an oak-dominated woodland, Allt yr Hebog, situated on Silurian shales on the north-eastern side of a hill rising above the village of Cwrt y Cadno. We met up with Nigel Stringer and Chris Forster-Brown in the village, and then worked our way to the woodland via a stream valley where Diplophyllum obtusifolium, Jungermannia gracillima, Nardia scalaris, Dicranella rufescens and Fissidens celticus were located in typical habitats. The woodland was dominated by rather even-aged and relatively young trees, with a ground flora dominated by Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) and Rhytidiadelphus loreus, and with occasional patches of Sphagnum quinquefarium. Bazzania trilobata was located by the track and Cephalozia lunulifolia was found on a rotting log. With few natural rock outcrops, new records quickly dried up and we decided to cut short our visit and move on to the next site. As Sam turned t o come back down the slope, he spotted Jamesoniella autumnalis* at head height on an oak trunk; David found a second colony on another nearby tree. Before we left the site Mark Pool collected Zygodon rupestris from a large ash by the road.
Creigiau Ladis (Merched), Mynydd Mallaen (SN7245)
The weather began to deteriorate and the drizzle turned to heavy rain so we took an early lunch in our cars. With the rain still falling, we walked to our next site on the north-western edge of Mynydd Mallaen - an extensive area of upland commonland. Sam separated from the main group to record a blank tetrad on the western edge of the hill. The results were disappointing, with highlights being Cynodontium bruntonii and Zygodon rupestris in some rather dry woodland, and more Diplophyllum obtusifolium on a steep roadside bank.
The rest of the group worked a rather tightly grazed stock-holding area, with both acidic and base-enriched flushes. The most basic flushes had frequent Drepanocladus revolvens s.str., and a small patch of Scorpidium scorpioides was also found. Breutelia chrysocoma and Calliergon sarmentosum were present at the edges of some flushes, and Odontoschisma sphagni was creeping over a hummock of Sphagnum subnitens. Oligotrichum hercynicum, Dicranella palustris, Hyocomium armoricum, Racomitrium aquaticum and Blindia acuta were found by a stream, with Scapania compacta on nearby boulders.
From this enclosed area we wandered onto the open moorland, heading for an area of massive block screes formed of Silurian conglomerates. As we neared the screes, Jean spotted Scapania umbrosa* on a small rock amongst Calluna, the first confirmed county record since H.H. Knight recorded the species from the same area almost 100 years ago. Graham collected a fragrant Kurzia from a nearby heathy bank which Jean later confirmed as K. trichoclados*. While examining the Kurzia, Jean noticed a few stems of Calypogeia neesiana*, which we had overlooked in the field. This area of block scree is largely inaccessible to sheep, and alongside hummocks of Bazzania trilobata were small forests of Fir Clubmoss (Huperzia selago) and patches of Wilsons Filmy-fern (Hymenophyllum wilsonii). Many boulders supported an abundance of Andreaea rothii subsp. falcata, various Racomitrium species and Ptychomitriu m polyphyllum. Jean soon found Anastrophyllum minutum among the boulders and then located Lepidozia pearsonii creeping though pleurocarps, while Graham collected Kurzia sylvatica on a nearby peaty overhang. Nigel, who was busy recording rust fungi on vascular plants, found a small patch of Stags-horn Clubmoss (Lycopodium clavatum). Working eastwards through the screes, swelling mounds of Mylia taylorii began to appear in quantity and A. minutum proved to be quite common. David found Douinia ovata on one of the few trees present, a rowan, and another patch was located in deep shade under a massive boulder. Other species recorded in the screes included Cephaloziella hampeana, Tritomaria quinquedentata, Bartramia pomiformis, Dicranum fuscescens and Polytrichum alpinum.
Sam rejoined us just as the rain was easing off, but now an icy wind had begun to blow, making it feel more like November than July. We moved down to a small disused lead mine and associated spoil heaps. Barbilophozia attenuata, B. floerkei and Lophozia bicrenata were present, and another Lophozia with reddish-brown gemmae proved to be L. sudetica. Small tufts of Grimmia donniana were growing on some shaley rocks on the spoil heaps, some with their attractive upright sporophytes. Returning to our cars via the lower edge of the common, we crossed a very wet area with Sphagnum squarrosum and S. teres. The roadsides between the common and the pull-in where our cars were parked produced some useful acrocarp records, including Tortula truncata. Sam and Graham independently found a patch of fruiting Bryum beneath a galvanised roadside barrier near to our cars which was later confirmed as B. pallescens. As most p eople were damp and cold, we returned to our base to change into some dry clothing rather than go to another site. A total of 153 species was recorded at the site.
Nant y Bai lead mine (SN7844)
Roy and Phil spent much of the day at Nant y Bai lead mine where they hoped to find Ditrichum plumbicola, but despite the extensive areas of spoil, the species was absent.
TUESDAY 2 JULY
Bannau Sir Gaer and Llyn y Fan Fach area (SN8021)
The BBS have visited Bannau Sir Gaer (also known as the Carmarthen Fan) on two previous meetings, and so several members opted not to go there on the free day. Despite being relatively well-known, several species recorded from cliffs elsewhere in the Brecon Beacons National Park have not been found at Bannau Sir Gaer, and this seemed adequate justification to revisit the site. Sam and the two Marks were joined by Alex Turner for the day.
After a quick walk up the track to Llyn y Fan Fach, the group searched the lake sides for a Marchantia, thought to be M. polymorpha subsp. montivagans, that Sam and Graham had seen there in August 2001. It was duly relocated but the consensus was that it was just poorly-marked subsp. polymorpha. The group then headed for the large gully near the western end of the Old Red Sandstone cliffs as this allowed easy access to higher ledges. Things started very well: plenty of Schistidium strictum, Amphidium lapponicum and a little Bryoerythrophyllum ferruginascens were all noted on base-rich sandstone low down in the gully. Further up were Pohlia flexuosa on two gravelly ledges, small patches of Scapania aequiloba and Oedipodium griffithianum, and a fine stand of Encalypta ciliata. A male Jungermannia collected near the bottom of the gully proved to be J. borealis*, a species known previously in sou th Wales only from Craig Cerrig Gleisiad in Breconshire, some 15 km to the east.
After lunch the group separated and members worked eastwards across the crags at different levels. After the riches of the western gully the bryophytes near the base of the crag were slightly disappointing although Metzgeria conjugata, Plagiochila spinulosa, Blepharostoma trichophyllum and Grimmia torquata were all noted for the first time during the day. More exciting were a couple of species collected by Mark Lawley from about halfway up the cliff. Ditrichum zonatum var. zonatum* was new for south Wales, and Andreaea alpina* was the first vice-county record since H.H. Knight collected it in the far north-east of the county. An odd-looking Schistidium bore more than a passing resemblance to S. frigidum, but later examination suggested it was just S. apocarpum s.str. with eroded perichaetial leaves. Things picked up again as we rounded a corner on to north-east-facing cliffs. The tall-herb ledge communitie s increased in lushness with Roseroot (Sedum rosea) becoming abundant and, below them, in crevices and on vertical rock, the bryophyte interest echoed that of the gully. Schistidium strictum, Amphidium lapponicum and Bryoerythrophyllum ferruginascens grew with abundant G. torquata; Isothecium myosuroides var. brachythecioides* was also collected here.
The descent from Llyn y Fan Fach was more leisurely than the outward journey and bryophytes growing on and around the track were recorded, the most interesting being Racomitrium elongatum, found by Mark Pool. The day ended nicely as Sam located female Moerckia hibernica in a base-rich flush near the fish hatchery. M. hibernica was first noted during the 1978 BBS meeting and its continued presence at this, one of only two inland sites in south Wales, was heartening. In total, 109 mosses and 34 liverworts were recorded during the day.
Mynydd y Betws (SN6610) and Carreg Cennen (SN6619)
Graham, Jonathan and Lorna opted to visit several unrecorded tetrads on the Carboniferous Coal Measures at Mynydd y Betws, close to the boundary with Glamorgan. The natural habitats proved to be very acidic and the area was possibly the poorest, bryologically speaking, that either Jonathan or Graham had seen in the county. Roadsides and tarmac provided the bulk of the records. The highlights were Nardia compressa in one of the streams and a patch of Climacium dendroides in a most unlikely spot in the middle of an area of heavily grazed Nardus stricta-Juncus squarrosus acidic grassland. Lorna found Atrichum crispum in quantity in a ditch. Interestingly, the first Carmarthenshire record of A. crispum was made in 1877 by the Reverend Augustine Ley near Glynhir Mansion, Ley having family connections with Glynhir.
Jean and Richard visited the Welsh National Botanic Garden. Although no bryophyte list was made, Jean found Marchantia polymorpha subsp. ruderalis in a pot which had originated from a nursery in north-west Carmarthenshire. Later they visited Carreg Cennen Castle, which sits above Carboniferous Limestone cliffs, where they recorded a variety of calcicoles, including Preissia quadrata, Anomodon viticulosus, Ditrichum gracile, Eucladium verticillatum, Encalypta streptocarpa, Tortella nitida and Eurhynchium striatulum.
WEDNESDAY 3 JULY
Carmel Woods National Nature Reserve and surrounding area (SN5815 - SN6116)
Our first stop of the day was a disused Carboniferous Limestone quarry at Pentre Gwenlais, part of Carmel Woods National Nature Reserve (NNR). Leiocolea badensis proved to be common in the damper parts of the quarry floor, with L. turbinata on spoil heaps at the quarry edge. Aloina aloides and Didymodon ferrugineus were also present elsewhere in the quarry, the latter becoming locally abundant on the entrance track. Mark Pool spotted Orthotrichum striatum on a willow branch overhanging the path we took out of the quarry. Other epiphytes found on nearby trees included O. affine, O. lyellii, Ulota bruchii, U. crispa, U. phyllantha, Metzgeria temperata, M. fruticulosa, Microlejeunea ulicina and Radula complanata. Further up the path there was a large patch of Campyliadelphus chrysophyllus, and the first fruiting Tortella tortuosa for the county was noted on shaded limestone pavement.
We moved on to a nearby bog, which was notable for its fine stands of Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis). The hepatics Odontoschisma sphagni, Cephalozia connivens, Kurzia pauciflora and Mylia anomala were present on the hummocks, with Cladopodiella fluitans common in the pools. Cephaloziella hampeana, Riccardia latifrons and Calypogeia sphagnicola* were found in smaller quantity growing through Sphagnum. A total of nine Sphagnum species was recorded on the bog.
We then crossed the road from where our cars were parked to a partially quarried gritstone ridge. On the footpath both Marks spotted Archidium alternifolium and Richard located Bryum alpinum complete with tubers. Lophozia bicrenata and, rather strangely, Didymodon ferrugineus were found on shallow peat in a quarried area. The latter species was thought to be receiving some calcareous influence from tarmac dumped nearby.
Llwynyfran Quarry (SN5715)
Our final stop of the day was a long-disused limestone quarry just to the west of the NNR. After a showery day, some members of the group were starting to flag a little. However, the sun came out, providing perfect conditions for observing the numerous small acrocarpous mosses associated with the quarried areas. Rock faces supported Bryoerythrophyllum recurvirostrum, Zygodon viridissimus, Pseudocrossidium revolutum, Campylium stellatum var. protensum, Mnium stellare and Schistidium crassipilum, while damp patches on the quarry floor had Aneura pinguis, Bryum pseudotriquetrum, Campyliadelphus chrysophyllus, Climacium dendroides and Syntrichia ruralis. A fragment of a discarded pair of trousers was notable for supporting Ceratodon purpureus, Encalypta streptocarpa, Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus and Trichostomum crispulum. R. squarrosus was also observed apparently growi ng as an epiphyte on a horizontal willow branch. Later microscope work showed both Thuidium delicatulum and T. philibertii to have been present in the quarry.
Glynhir revisited (SN6315)
We returned to Glynhir for a refreshing cup of tea and afterwards Jonathan set off on his journey home. Sam set up his birding telescope so we could scan the stone tile roofs for the rare Grimmia species that are turning up in this habitat all over the Welsh borders. Most tiles were too basic, mainly supporting G. pulvinata, but one or two tufts were possibly another Grimmia species, and what appeared to be Racomitrium fasciculare was also present. A search was made for material that had fallen off the roof, but most was just Hypnum cupressiforme s.l. Mark Lawley, Sam and Graham then recorded in the grounds of Glynhir before dinner, adding to the records made on the first day and completing cards started the previous day by Jonathan and Lorna. Some walls had abundant Tortella nitida, and elsewhere Homalia trichomanoides, Mnium stellare and Leptodictyum riparium were found.
THURSDAY 4 JULY
Fedw Fawr and the Afon Clydach (SN7922 - SN8122)
When the meeting was being planned it had been intended to spend this day in south-east Ceredigion, but a pre-meeting visit to check out the area showed that there was an excessively long walk to get to any decent habitat. Therefore an alternative location on the Old Red Sandstone and similar Silurian sandstones in the easternmost part of Carmarthenshire was chosen. We were joined on the day by Ray Woods, bryophyte recorder for Breconshire.
Our target area for the day was the steep-sided valley of the Afon Clydach, which, as far as we know, has never previously been visited by a bryologist. We parked our cars and walked all of 20 m to examine the banks alongside the uppermost reaches of the River Usk. Sam quickly found Blasia pusilla amongst some gravelly turf and Fossombronia incurva soon followed. Everyone gathered around to see these species when Sam struck gold with Haplomitrium hookeri*. Not to be outdone, Ray waded across the stream into Breconshire (VC 42) and found Blasia and Haplomitrium in similar habitat; Graham joined him and located some F. incurva*. Several samples of what looked like Riccardia incurvata in the field were later confirmed microscopically as just being highly canaliculate R. chamedryfolia. These species alone seemed to justify the change of venue, but this was just the start of what was to prove to be a consistently interesting day. S ome flushed ground adjacent to the stream held Drepanocladus cossonii, Warnstorfia exannulata and Hamatocaulis vernicosus, allowing a comparison of the different field characters of each species. Calliergon giganteum was present in a more basic flush, Jungermannia exsertifolia subsp. cordifolia was recorded in a wet runnel, and Scapania scandica grew on a crumbling bank above the flushes. As we headed northwards, hummocks of Polytrichum strictum were frequent on the moorland, and some large Old Red Sandstone boulders scattered across the moor yielded Pterogonium gracile, a rare plant in the county. Richard Fisk checked a nearby conifer plantation and found Plagiothecium curvifolium, a species which has undoubtedly been overlooked in Carmarthenshire. After a brief lunch stop we made our way through rush-dominated vegetation where Plagiomnium ellipticum, Calliergon cordifolium and Sphagnum squarrosum< /I> were common.
Some low crags on the approach to the Afon Clydach valley yielded Lophozia excisa. Sam spotted some south-facing rock outcrops several hundred metres away and thought they looked worth checking for Hedwigia. His hunch paid off and he found abundant H. stellata, one of only three known sites for the species in the county. We descended into the valley, which proved to be ungrazed and wooded on the western side and grazed and open on the eastern side, thereby providing contrasting habitats. Graham found a rock face with abundant Porella arboris-vitae, a few large tufts of Plagiochila bifaria (P. killarniensis) and Wilsons Filmy-fern (Hymenophyllum wilsonii). Part of the group clambered up some shaded crags and found P. spinulosa, P. punctata and much more P. bifaria. Further along the stream, as Mark Lawley puzzled over an odd-looking Encalypta specimen from one side of a large boulder, Sam spotted a few pla nts of E. ciliata with capsules (at only 280 m altitude) on the opposite side, allowing us to confirm that the plant Mark was examining was just E. streptocarpa. A while later Sam located only the second modern county record of Philonotis arnellii on a crumbling slope. Other species recorded along the valley included Bartramia pomiformis, Blepharostoma trichophyllum, Preissia quadrata, Ptilidium ciliare, Scapania gracilis, Tritomaria quinquedentata, Tortula subulata var. graeffii, Fissidens rivularis, Hygrohypnum ochraceum, Cynodontium bruntonii and Anomobryum julaceum.
We climbed out of the valley and headed back across the moor towards the cars, stopping at Mawnbwll-du Mawr, a small fenced-off area of bog which, according to Ray, had large patches of bare peat before it was fenced about 20 years ago. No bare peat is visible today and there is a reasonable cover of Sphagnum across the mire surface. Sam located a small hummock of S. magellanicum, only the second county record, near the west end of the bog. A range of hepatics similar to that found on Wednesday was present, including Mylia anomala, Odontoschisma sphagni, Kurzia pauciflora, Riccardia latifrons and Cladopodiella fluitans. Some of the group followed the flush leading out of the bog, which rapidly turned from acidic to basic, and found a few species new for the day, including Scorpidium scorpioides. With the car almost within touching distance Mark Pool rounded the day off nicely with Dicranella cerviculata* on peaty banks, the first post-1950 record of the species in the vice-county. The total of 150 mosses and 61 liverworts was remarkable considering the uniform geology of the area.
FRIDAY 5 JULY
Nant y Rhaeadr (SN7543)
After the success of Thursday it was felt that the planned trip to some completely unknown country to the north of Carmarthen town might be an anticlimax. Instead, the group were keen to investigate sites in the north-east of the county which we had been unable to visit on Monday. Our first site was Nant y Rhaeadr, a valley situated on Silurian sandstone and shales, with oak woodland, cascades and waterfalls on the south-east flank of Mynydd Mallaen. Despite the reasonable weather forecast it was drizzling and, for the first time during the week, midges were out in force. We walked along a track through Cwm y Rhaeadr plantation where Archidium alternifolium and Bryum alpinum were growing on the track and more Plagiothecium curvifolium was under the conifers. Diplophyllum obtusifolium was again found on crumbling banks - this supposedly scarce species is proving to be widespread in the county. The rain had raised water levels in the river and the waterfall and cascades looked particularly attractive. Scapania gracilis was common on boulders and tree trunks, some fallen trees were covered in Nowellia curvifolia, the woodland banks had frequent Sphagnum quinquefarium, and here and there were small pockets with Saccogyna viticulosa. Jean worked the lower part of the falls where she found Marsupella emarginata var. aquatica and Jungermannia hyalina. Most boulders and outcrops were quite acidic and had a rather limited flora. However, Plagiochila bifaria and P. spinulosa were present, and there were small quantities of Pohlia elongata, Rhabdoweisia fugax, Isopterygiopsis pulchella, Diphyscium foliosum and Metzgeria conjugata. Plagiochila punctata was spotted on an oak tree and Mark Pool found Marsupella funckii and Racomitrium affine at the head of the valley.
Nant Melyn (SN7246)
Lorna departed for home and the rest of us drove to Nant Melyn, an oak-covered ravine woodland on Silurian sandstones opposite the north side of Mynydd Mallaen, stopping briefly on the way to examine a footbridge on which grew Bazzania trilobata and Odontoschisma denudatum. As we entered Nant Melyn, B. trilobata proved to be abundant on the western slopes. Several of us searched fallen logs for Anastrophyllum hellerianum, which is known from the site, and eventually Graham found it in very small quantity on a single log. Other species on fallen logs included Cephalozia lunulifolia, Tritomaria exsectiformis and Dicranodontium denudatum. Sam worked his way up the stream and examined the outcrops on the eastern side of the valley. More Plagiochila punctata, P. spinulosa and Metzgeria conjugata were located, as well as three patches of Sphenolobopsis pearsonii, a second locality for a species found for the first time in the county only a few months earlier. A small patch of Jungermannia was collected and found to be a male example of dioicous J. paroica! Other species recorded in the valley bottom included Lejeunea patens, Campylopus fragilis and Fontinalis squamosa. Jean, Mark Lawley and Richard followed a path which took them around the head of the valley and down the eastern side, where Mark located Marsupella funckii next to the track. In an area of sprayed bracken, Richard found Polytrichum longisetum*, another first modern Carmarthenshire record, which rounded off a most enjoyable week. Most of us were rather damp, and we made our way to Llandovery for a well-earned cup of tea, to reflect on the week and nurse our midge bites.
The meeting exceeded all the local bryologists expectations and we found many of the target species we had hoped for and a few more besides. Apart from the peacocks, Glynhir proved to be a suitable HQ. Judging by the questionnaire we were asked to fill in at the end of our stay, the new management is well aware of the avian situation. Although on several days the weather was rather poor, the damp conditions meant that most bryophytes appeared nice and fresh, and we certainly saw many more species than we would have had it been hot and dry. Over the week we saw 253 moss and 107 liverwort species, representing 62% and 68% respectively of the known Carmarthenshire flora. Nine species and varieties were recorded new to VC 44 (and one for VC 42), and four old records were updated.
During the week several members of the group helped to fill in recording cards and gave use of their cars, which was most appreciated. We thank Richard Pryce for arranging the visit to Pendine, Nigel Stringer for helping arrange access to some of the sites, and all the landowners who kindly gave permission for us to wander freely across their land.
GRAHAM MOTLEY, SAM BOSANQUET & JONATHAN GRAHAM
There are two corrections to the account of this meeting in Bulletin 80, pp 7-16. The record of ‘Grimmia lisae’ from Llangynog on 30 June is incorrect. A specimen of ‘Philonotis arnellii’, recorded from the Afon Clydach valley on 4 July, has been redetermined as P. caespitosa (the first record from v.-c. 44).
Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, 13-15 September
The Annual General Meeting and Bryological Symposium were held in Edinburgh on 13-15 September, with Dr David Long as local secretary. This was the first autumn meeting to have been held in Scotland. Participants were housed at the Pollock Halls of Residence, close to Arthurs Seat, and several members took the chance to visit this classic bryological site to see Coscinodon cribrosus on Samsons Ribs. On Friday 13 September the afternoon and evening were occupied by meetings of the Conservation and Recording Committee, Publications Committee and Council. Participants also took the chance to socialise in the Conservatory of the John McIntyre Centre.
On the morning of Saturday 14 September a bus transported participants across Edinburgh to the Royal Botanic Garden (RBGE), where we were welcomed by Dr Mary Gibby, the Director of Science, who outlined some of the current activities of the RBGE in cryptogamic botany and bryology. She also described the excellent research facilities at RBGE for bryology, including the bryophyte herbarium and library, which are available for consultation by BBS members.
The Symposium was chaired by the President and six presentations were made. During the lunch break a short tour of the RBGE bryophyte herbarium was led by David Long and Sally Rae, who had laid out a selection of specimens from the bryological collections: specimens from R.K. Grevilles herbarium, including some original paintings of mosses (e.g. Aplodon wormskioldii); some historical type specimens, such as mosses collected in New Zealand in the late 18th century by Archibald Menzies, including many types which are being curated and databased; and recent acquisitions, such as a collection of British mosses made by H.N. Dixon, and specimens from the herbaria of Jean Paton, Cliff Townsend and Alan Crundwell.
DR MONTSERRAT BRUGUÉS (Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain): The Bryophytic Richness of Spain
The Spanish bryoflora consists of 807 moss species, 256 liverworts and five hornworts. The number of bryophytes, and particularly mosses, recorded from Spain has recently increased considerably in parallel with the increase in the number of researchers, and especially due to the study of arid zones, of great interest but little known until now. These zones have yielded the majority of the species new to science, although there are regions where much greater study is required than that undertaken to date.
Climatic variety, accompanied by altitudinal differences within the Spanish territory, determines the interesting and diverse bryophyte flora. The flora includes arctic-alpines, characteristic of the higher areas of the Pyrenees, such as Gymnomitrion corallioides, Marsupella brevissima and Pleurocladula albescens, or such as Anthelia juratzkana and Amphidium lapponicum which are also found in the Sierra Nevada, species with oceanic distributions, such as Sphagnum pylaesii, Jubula hutchinsiae and Breutelia chrysocoma, and steppe species characteristic of arid, continental zones, such as Crossidium aberrans, C. seriatum, Tortula revolvens var. obtusata and Phascum vlassovii.
There are about 20 Iberian endemics, including Triquetrella arapilensis, Anomobryum lusitanicum, Schizymenium pontevedrensis, Pterygoneurum sampaianum and Phascum cuynetii. Some of these, such as Acaulon casasianum, Didymodon bistratosus, Orthotrichum ibericum or Phascum longipes, may eventually be found in other Mediterranean countries, as is the case with Acaulon fontiquerianum and some Orthotrichum species, or else in the Canary Islands, as with Goniomitrium seroi. Mediterranean endemics and Iberian Macaronesian endemics are also abundant. The catalogue also contains species with interesting disjunctions in their distributions, such as Oedipodiella australis, Antitrichia californica, Claopodium whippleanum, Schistidium occidentale and Phascum piptocarpum.
DR HEINJO DURING (University of Utrecht, The Netherlands): The Diaspore Bank of a Zimbabwean Savannah
The 'Matopos Sandveld Fire Plots' in the savannas of south Zimbabwe are experimental plots with a consistent management (12 different regimes) since 1947. The above-ground vegetation appears to contain few bryophytes: in February 1997, in the middle of the rainy season, only isolated plants of Exormotheca holstii, two Riccia species, two Archidium species and a Bruchia were found. However, from superficial soil samples taken in plots with four different management regimes, including annual fire, at least 11 liverworts and hornworts and 21 mosses emerged, often in large numbers. Many of the species found are hypothesised to possess an episodic strategy much like that described for Physcomitrium sphaericum. Perhaps for that reason, the assemblage contained several species new to Zimbabwe or new to Africa, including Micromitrium tenerum, and at least one taxon new to science: Neophoenix matoposensis R.H. Zander & During gen. et spec. nov. Annual burning of the above-ground vegetation did not appear to be harmful to the diaspores in the soil.
DR ANGELA E. NEWTON (Natural History Museum, London): Mosses of the Maya Mountains: Research and Exploration in Central America
The Neotropical area, including Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and northern South America, is probably one of the better known tropical regions for bryophytes, since there are now several complete or partial floristic works available. There is also a significant number of national and international researchers working on the floristics and systematics of bryophytes in the region. However, there are still enormous gaps in our knowledge of the distribution of mosses and liverworts in most of the countries involved, and many of the taxa are poorly understood, so that a large amount of research is still necessary.
Key biodiversity issues include a) cataloguing what is present, b) providing quality control for names so that databases contain meaningful information, c) investigating the natural distribution and ecological associations of bryophytes before too much more of this information is destroyed by development, and d) developing keys, guides and inventories to enable ecologists, conservationists and others to undertake research and implement management plans. Systematic taxonomic revisions are necessary to provide a better estimate of the number and nature of species and higher level taxa in the area, and to provide a basis for evolutionary and biogeographical research into the processes influencing the origin and maintenance of biological diversity.
One of the countries in this area that is very poorly known is Belize, on the southern side of the Yucatan Peninsula between Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean. It is mostly lowland, but in southern Belize there is a large limestone and sandstone plateau with some peaks reaching over 1000 m (Doyles Delight is the highest point at 1140 m). There have been few visits by bryologists to the country, possibly because the low altitudes promise little diversity in contrast to the high peaks in adjacent areas. Recent checklists give 250 species of moss (Townsend & Allen, 1998) and 65 species of liverwort (Whittemore & Allen, 1996). In connection with other bryological research projects, Fred Rumsey and I undertook to survey the bryophytes around the Las Cuevas Research Station, which is run jointly by the Natural History Museum, London and the Forestry Department of Belize. The area around the station is rather uniform, being situated in mature secondary forest on the limestone plateau at about 450 m, surrounded by numerous small hills rising to 800 m. There is little surface water in the immediate area, but frequent heavy rain and overnight mist are conducive to bryophyte growth.
Preliminary results from our three-week visit produced a list of 132 moss species and at least 43 hepatic species. This represents 32% of the Townsend & Allen (1998) moss list, but with at least 19 additional species and five additional families. The liverworts collected have only been partially identified, but represent 44% of the genera in Whittemore & Allen (1996), with at least 14 additional genera. Interesting moss taxa new to the country, although common elsewhere in the neotropics, include Cryphaeaceae (Schoenobryum concavifolium), Anomodontaceae (Anomodon rostratus, A. attenuatus) and Fabroniaceae (Fabronia ciliaris var. polycarpa). In the liverworts, a large number of epiphyllous taxa were collected, including representatives of the genera Aphanolejeunea, Colura and Leptolejeunea. Terrestrial taxa included Marchantiaceae (Marchantia, Dumortiera and Asterella), Aneura, and also the hornwort Notothylas.
This number of additional taxa found in the course of a short visit to a rather uniform area indicates that the bryoflora of Belize is still far from completely known, and that additional visits here, especially to a range of different habitats and altitudes, are likely to produce additional records. The liverworts in particular would repay further work.
Townsend C, Allen B. 1998. A checklist of the mosses of Belize.
Tropical Bryology 15: 89-100.
PROF. JEFFREY G. DUCKETT (Queen Mary College, University Of London) & PROF. ROBERTO LIGRONE (Seconda Università Di Napoli, Caserta, Italy): What we Couldnt Have Done if wed Stayed in Europe: Selection and Serendipity in the Southern Hemisphere!
We are indebted to David Long for dreaming up the exploration theme for the 2002 BBS Symposium and for inviting us to speak. This has provided a unique opportunity to pause and to reflect on the various fruits of our visits, over the last decade or so, to Lesotho, South Africa, Borneo, Uganda and New Zealand. This turns out to be a curious tale of setting out with one set of objectives and discovering very different things.
The first question that immediately comes to mind is: why should two botanists, whose research can best be described as the cell, developmental and evolutionary biology of bryophytes (with a bit on the side on protonemata and bryological exploration of uncharted territories (Hodgetts et al., 1999)), want to travel to the southern hemisphere in the first place?
Together, Britain and Italy have remarkably good bryophyte floras for our kind of work; most groups are well represented and can be fixed immediately after collection. The most notable lacunae are Takakia, giant members of the Polytrichales (Dawsonia, Dendroligotrichum), Schusters primitive metzgerialean taxa (Treubia, Phyllothallia, Allisonia, Verdoornia) and those with highly differentiated gametophytes (Symphyogyne, Hymenophyton), Monoclea and Neohodgsonia in the Marchantiales, only one species of Haplomitrium, and the hornwort genera Dendroceros and Megaceros.
Thus in the mid 1990s we set off to Lesotho to study the ontogeny of the water-conducting cells in Symphyogyne and to make comparative observations on fungal endophytes in the Marchantiales. The discovery that the formation of the large pits in the former is associated with callose (Ligrone & Duckett, 1996), a capricious carbohydrate better known in association with phloem sieve plates in angiosperms, was the catalyst for wide-ranging comparative studies on water-conducting elements in bryophytes. Ultimately, this has led to the conclusion that these conduits are polyphyletic in both liverworts (Calobryales, Metzgeriales) and mosses (Takakia, Bryales and Polytrichales) (Ligrone et al., 2000, 2002). Developmental and, most recently, immunocytochemical evidence that moss hydroids are not homologous with tracheary elements has major implications for interpreting vascular plant lineages.
From the same expedition the chance observation that the central thallus cells in Asterella contain longitudinal arrays of endoplasmic microtubules associated with a pleomorphic vacuole system (Ligrone & Duckett, 1994a) caused us to re-examine the cytology of food-conducting leptoids in mosses (Ligrone & Duckett, 1994b). This highly characteristic food-conducting cytology has now been found, not only in polytrichalean leptoids, but also in other mosses such as Neckeraceae, Orthotrichaceae, Hookeriaceae and most notably Sphagnum (Ligrone & Duckett, 1998), previously thought to lack specialised conducting elements. It also occurs in moss caulonemata and rhizoids (Duckett et al., 1998), in the axes of Takakia and Haplomitrium, and is widespread in the thalli of Marchantiales.
Our studies on conducting elements have extended to a re-examination of the possible functional significance of dimorphic rhizoids in the Marchantiales, apparently last studied by Kamerling (1897). Whereas smooth rhizoids are living and frequently contain hyphae of the fungal endophytes, the pegged variety are dead and function as an internalised, external water-conducting system in carpocephala grooves. The pegs prevent total collapse when the thalli dry out and permit recovery after rehydration. The absence of pegged rhizoids in Monoclea, Neohodgsonia and some aquatic Riccia species suggests that this is a derived condition - a conclusion in line with recent molecular evidence (Wheeler, 2000) but at variance with earlier Schusterian notions.
One of our principal original aims was the exploration of fungal endophytes in hepatics (Read et al., 2000). While some of our observations have been closely in line with predictions (e.g. the widespread occurrence of Endogonaceae in the Marchantiales, including Monoclea), others were unexpected, for example fungi in the rhizome systems of the Pallavicinaceae. Most remarkably, the thalli of Treubia contain both extracellular and intracellular endogaceous fungi, and the same are confined to the outer cell layers in the mucilage-invested roots of Haplomitrium.
This distillation of some of the cytological gems originating from the southern hemisphere is just a preliminary progress report of the results from our travels. Just as floristic collecting expeditions result in hundreds of specimens requiring many years to identify, ours produce dozens of resin-embedded specimens - the bryological equivalent of sculptures waiting to be carved. So, when asked where we might go next, the answer should really be absolutely nowhere - not until weve looked at most of what weve got already. Nearing the top of the pile are investigations into the ontogeny of stomata and intercellular spaces in hornworts and mosses. Just as hydroid/tracheid homology was a key question in moss-tracheophyte evolution, monophyly versus polyphyly of stomata has now become the vexed issue in setting the basal lineages of land plants (Raven, 2002).
We thank the British Council, The Royal Society and the Natural Environment Research Council without whose financial support this work would not have been possible. Equally crucial have been laboratory facilities at the Universities of Lesotho and Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, and the camaraderie of the worldwide bryological community who shared experiences including men with guns, bribery of officials, life-threatening weather, kea-damaged cars, and a universal hatred of possums in New Zealand.
Duckett JG, Schmid AM, Ligrone R. 1998. Protonemal morphogenesis.
In: Bates JW, Ashton NW, Duckett JG, eds. Bryology for the twenty-first
century. Leeds: Maney, 223-246.
DR MARK HILL (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Monks Wood, Huntingdon) & BRYAN EDWARDS (Dorset Environmental Records Centre, Dorchester): A Very Slow Exploration: 40 Years of Bryology in Dorset, England
Dorset (Watsonian vice-county 9) is on the south coast of England, just west of the line separating English Natures South-West region from the South-East region. It measures about 80 km from east to west and 60 km from north to south. Topographically, it is dominated by a ridge running south-west to north-east. The highest hill, Pilsdon Pen, is 277 m high. Geologically, the county is underlain by relatively young rocks, mostly of Jurassic and Cretaceous age. Tertiary sands, clays and gravels characterise the Poole Basin, an area of heathland on acid soils in the south-east near Poole. Annual rainfall is lowest on the coast, being 700 mm on Portland, rising to about 1300 mm on the chalk ridge.
Progress of recording
Mark Hill became interested in bryophytes in 1962 when he began recording them in the west of the county near Wootton Fitzpaine. Initially, his aim was to learn to identify the species and to record them in west Dorset for the newly-launched BBS Mapping Scheme. During the following 40 years, the project transformed itself gradually from a local flora of the west of the county (1966), via a flora of the whole county, based on 10-km squares (1970), to a tetrad flora (1995). BBS meetings were held at Lyme Regis (1969), Wareham (1977) and Weymouth (1995). During the 1970s, Monica Milnes-Smith recorded bryophytes extensively near Child Okeford. In the 1980s, Rod Stern sent numerous records from the east of the county. In the 1990s, Bryan Edwards became active and kept systematic records from sites all over the county. In 1995, he and Mark Hill decided to pool their records and (finally) to write up a bryophyte flora of the county. This is due to be published by Dorset Environmental Records Centre as a book.
In the 1960s there was already a long history of recording in the county, starting with Leptodon smithii, found at Weymouth in 1800. There was no further activity until 1867, but thereafter mosses were recorded rapidly, with half the moss flora discovered by 1890. Liverworts trailed and did not reach the halfway mark until 1935. Notable finds during the 19th century were Myrinia pulvinata (1879), Sphagnum pulchrum (1880) and Eurhynchium meridionale (1881). The discovery of E. meridionale, one of only two bryophyte species confined in England to Dorset, was delayed because E.M. Holmes misidentified it as E. striatulum. Its other finder, Sir William Medleycott, got a correct identification from H.H. Wood, but Wood died shortly afterwards and the record did not come to light until 1917. From that time onwards, bryologists have regularly visited Portland, where Southbya nigrella was found new to Britain in 1921.
During the 1930s, Eustace Jones recorded bryophytes on Studland Heath and in several woods. Many of his best discoveries were liverworts, including Jungermannia hyalina, Lophozia incisa, Marsupella funckii and Riccia huebeneriana, which have never been refound. Since 1945, many other interesting plants have been added to the county list, of which Plagiochila norvegica must surely be the most remarkable. It is known nowhere else in Britain, and in Dorset is confined to a single stone.
Composition of the flora
With 95 liverworts, three hornworts and 329 mosses, the Dorset bryophyte list comprises about 42% of the British and Irish total. Arctic-montane species are completely lacking, but there are 18 Boreal and Boreo-arctic montane species, including both calcicoles, such as Leiocolea badensis and Thuidium abietinum, and calcifuges, such as Calypogeia sphagnicola and Pogonatum urnigerum. In comparison with the average British county, Dorset has more Mediterranean-Atlantic and Submediterranean-Subatlantic species than the average, with 65% of the total.
The most similar vice-county is South Hampshire (VC 11), which has a nearly equal number of species. Among the species that occur in Dorset but not in any adjacent county, perhaps the most surprising is Sphagnum pulchrum. It is common in Dorset but does not quite reach the Hampshire border. Myrinia pulvinata and Weissia rostellata are also not known from any adjacent counties but are more widespread in England. In the other direction, Campylophyllum calcareum and Orthotrichum stramineum are known from all six adjacent vice-counties but not from Dorset.
Changes in the flora
There are just five recorded aliens in the Dorset bryoflora. Campylopus introflexus, now very common on heathland and occasional elsewhere, was first found in 1950. Orthodontium lineare was found in 1961 but has remained uncommon. Didymodon umbrosus, Lophocolea bispinosa and Telaranea murphyae were discovered in the last 15 years. Only L. bispinosa appears likely to become common. It is confined to sites disturbed by quarrying or military activity, and has also been found in adjacent parts of Hampshire.
A few species appear to be increasing, but older records are not in the main good enough for us to be certain. Didymodon nicholsonii was first found in 1980 but was not seen again until 2000. It now appears to be common in the county, especially on tarmac in villages. Although it is rather inconspicuous, it would almost certainly have attracted our attention if it had been common in the past. Likewise Cololejeunea minutissima, now found frequently inland, was formerly almost confined to the coast.
A rather larger number of species appear to be declining. Some, such as Bartramia pomiformis, Dicranum spurium and Splachnum ampullaceum, are generally decreasing in southern England. More surprising are Plagiothecium denticulatum and Pohlia nutans, which were frequently found in the 1960s, but since 1980 have been seen in only seven and three tetrads respectively. At least seven species are thought to have been short-persisting casuals in the county. Notable among these are Riccardia palmata and Scapania gracilis, found in 1970 on rotting wood in a small wetland called Aunt Marys Bottom. R. palmata was refound in 1972 but neither species has been seen thereafter in spite of searching.
Far more species appear to have been stable than to have increased or decreased. This is partly due to the efforts of conservationists. Much of the coast has been acquired by the National Trust, and many heaths now have statutory protection. Epiphytes were little affected by acid rain, even when it was at its height in the 1960s. Thus, we see at the present a flora which in its general character is remarkably similar to that which existed when H.H. Wood began systematically to record mosses in 1876.
GORDON ROTHERO (DUNOON, ARGYLL): Exploration at the Gallop: 10 Years of Bryology in Assynt, Scotland
Assynt is a parish in Sutherland, in the far north-west of Scotland, botanically best known for the interesting vascular plant flora on the outcrops of Cambrian limestone at Inchnadamph. You need to think big for parishes in the Highlands: Assynt is slightly larger than the Isle of Wight and even so is not the largest parish in Sutherland. Other comparisons with the south also shed light on the nature of the area. The Isle of Wight has a population of some 130,000 and hundreds of roads criss-crossing the landscape; Assynt has about 1000 people and one main road through the middle and a minor road around the coast. The area is very rugged with spectacular hills like Suilven and Quinag and ground over 950 m on Conival, but much of the ground is an undulating plateau with a myriad of crags, lochans and wooded ravines. The coast is wild out on the Point of Stoer but there are shell-sand bays and quiet coastal woodland as well. The climate is extremely oceanic: wet and mild in the winter and wet and slightly warmer (if you are lucky) in the summer.
The Assynt area, and particularly the limestone, has attracted botanists over the years - the first bryophyte records date from 1767 - but recording has always come from fleeting visits, so the total number of records before my survey was surprisingly small. The survey which culminated in the bryophyte section in the Flora of Assynt (Evans et al., 2002) grew out of records made during the BBS visit in 1992 and the friendship I struck up with Pat and Ian Evans who live in the Assynt township of Nedd. Pat and Ian had already embarked on survey work for their vascular plant flora and, with fieldwork scheduled to end in 2000, a tight timetable was set in an attempt to cover at least a representative sample of the 164 tetrads in the parish. In the end, 116 tetrads had some sort of survey but the vast majority had just the one visit.
The area has a rich bryophyte flora with 156 liverwort and 345 moss taxa. In addition to this there are some 14 liverworts and 20 mosses reliably recorded for Assynt which were not refound during this survey.
The limestone, centred on Inchnadamph, has a number of interesting species, notably an abundance of Orthothecium rufescens and a number of other uncommon montane species at low altitude, including Pseudoleskeella rupestris, Encalypta alpina, Schistidium trichodon and Hypnum bambergeri. Dripping limestone also has stands of Seligeria trifaria and Hymenostylium insigne. There are surely more good discoveries yet to be made on the limestone.
Away from the limestone, much of the ground is rather unproductive wet heath with large populations of Campylopus atrovirens and Pleurozia purpurea, but there are also more undisturbed mires. There are a number of populations of Sphagnum austinii and S. fuscum, and species such as S. molle and S. strictum are probably more frequent than this survey suggests. My survey found only one stand of Campylopus shawii; this seems unlikely to reflect reality, though it is undoubtedly rare. The most important heath community is found under ericaceous shrubs at moderate to high altitudes on shaded slopes and amongst scree. Here there is an oceanic-montane liverwort community, usually associated with Sphagnum capillifolium and Racomitrium lanuginosum, composed of robust species with extraordinarily disjunct global distributions and including Anastrophyllum donnianum, A. joergensenii, Scapania ornithopodioides, S. nimbosa, Plagiochila carringtonii, Mastigophora woodsii, Bazzania pearsonii and Herbertus aduncus subsp. hutchinsiae.
The woodland and ravines also have an excellent oceanic flora with a good development of the Scapania gracilis-Hymenophyllum wilsonii community on rocks, large stands of Plagiochila spinulosa and P. punctata, and less frequent, but often large, stands of Lepidozia cupressina. The smaller Lejeuneaceae are also well represented with an abundance of Lejeunea patens, and with Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Colura calyptrifolia, Aphanolejeunea microscopica and Harpalejeunea molleri all reasonably frequent. The smaller scale of the woodland and the northerly latitude seem to result in the absence of some of the rarer oceanic species that occur on Skye although there is one population of Geocalyx graveolens.
Because much of the survey work took place in the winter months, the highest hills have not had as good a coverage as they justify. Some arctic-alpine species have already been mentioned as occurring on the limestone. There are also records for Arctoa fulvella, Kiaeria blyttii, Philonotis seriata and Ditrichum zonatum var. zonatum, and there are older records for K. falcata and Aulacomnium turgidum. After the flora was published, one trip to the hills north of Conival this year produced Barbilophozia lycopodioides and Paraleucobryum longifolium, indicating that there is much still to be found. Crags lower down can also have an interesting flora, with Glyphomitrium daviesii proving to be frequent on the gneiss; there are a few oddities such as Cynodontium jenneri and Dicranoweisia crispula here as well. Rock exposures by the many lochs have an interesting bryophyte community with several localities for Grimmia longirostris and a few sites for G. ovalis, as well as more common plants such as Pterigynandrum filiforme, Orthotrichum rupestre and Antitrichia curtipendula. Many lochs also have good populations of Odontoschisma elongatum along the flushed margins, and two lochs on the limestone have large stands of Cinclidium stygium in the same habitat.
The riparian flora, particularly where the run-off is from the limestone, is also interesting, and includes Hygrohypnum duriusculum and Rhynchostegiella teneriffae, usually with abundant Rhynchostegium riparioides, Thamnobryum alopecurum and Cinclidotus fontinaloides. On the gneiss, one fall has good populations of both Schistidium agassizii and Bryum dixonii, and on the sandstone there are at least two populations of Rhynchostegium alopecuroides.
The coastline is extensive and varied; where it is sheltered and wooded there are often similar oceanic species to the ravines with the addition of large stands of Frullania teneriffae and occasional F. microphylla. On the exposed Stoer peninsula, pride of place goes to the few stands of Myurium hochstetteri, a very beautiful hyper-oceanic species here in one of its few mainland localities. There are shell-sand beaches at Achmelvich, Clachtoll and Clashnessie, and these have some species typical of western dune systems, including Ditrichum gracile, Entodon concinnus, Didymodon ferrugineus, and occasionally Amblyodon dealbatus, Encalypta rhaptocarpa and Distichium inclinatum.
There are lots of holes still to be filled in Assynt and I suspect that more rare species will be found on the limestone. A number of species recorded by H.N. Dixon, W.E. Nicholson and E.S. Salmon on their visit in 1899 have not been refound, and the bigger hills need more attention. And this is just one of Sutherlands parishes.
Evans PA, Evans IM, Rothero GP. 2002. Flora of Assynt. Nedd: PA & IM Evans.
Following the AGM, delegates were transported back to Pollock Halls by bus, and after dinner a conversazione was held in the Conservatory where the following exhibits and posters were displayed:
The Annual General Meeting of the Tropical Bryology Group, chaired by Michelle Price, was held later in the evening.
FIELD EXCURSION TO EAST LOTHIAN COAST, 15 SEPTEMBER 2002
The morning excursion, led by David Long and Gordon Rothero, was to the John Muir Country Park near Dunbar (VC 82), a Local Nature Reserve managed by East Lothian District Council. It was set up to commemorate John Muir, a native of Dunbar, who after emigrating to America as a child became one of the most celebrated leaders of the environmental movement in the USA and was instrumental in setting up national parks such as Yosemite. The park includes areas of saltmarsh, sand dunes and pine plantation. Members arrived from Edinburgh by private car and the RBGE minibus. In spite of a threatening bank of mist out at sea, the weather was mild and dry and perfect for bryology.
Photo by Derek Christie
The group first explored the saltmarsh and admired a robust stand of Bryum marratii, only recently discovered here, then fanned out to search for B. warneum, which was located but producing only a few of its distinctive sporophytes. More abundant were B. algovicum var. rutheanum and Hennediella heimii. Jonathan Sleath found B. dunense. Later the group split up. Some people strode out to the mouth of the Hedderwick Burn, where Mark Hill recorded Racomitrium elongatum; others explored the dune ridge, where Rhytidium rugosum was locally abundant and Campyliadelphus elodes was seen in its well-known site in calcareous ditches at the edge of the conifer plantation.
Photo by Derek Christie
Lunch was taken in a large circle on the grass, and then we moved a few miles up the coast to North Berwick Law which is one of several volcanic plugs in East Lothian (others include the Bass Rock and Traprain Law) but is still inadequately known bryologically. The steep north-facing rocks were an immediate challenge to a few, who looked disapprovingly down on the majority who had opted to explore an adjacent stubble field, spurred on by Mark Hill to record the first Scottish arable field for the BBS Survey of Bryophytes of Arable Land. The field turned out to be of some interest. The most abundant moss was Dicranella schreberiana, and among the other species recorded were *Bryum violaceum (Mark Hill and Chris Preston), *B. tenuisetum and Tortula modica (Jeff Duckett), *Ephemerum serratum var. minutissimum (Jonathan Sleath), and Riccia sorocarpa and a little R. glauca (Fred Rumsey). The group then fanned out to attack the hill from all sides. The best find, by Jonathan Sleath, Chris Preston and others, was the rediscovery of Grimmia laevigata on the south-facing rocks, last seen in 1907. The low rock outcrop near the east end, explored by Gordon Rothero and Keith Watson, had abundant Porella obtusata and some Pterogonium gracile, while the rock terraces on the north side just below the summit had Cynodontium bruntonii and Bartramia ithyphylla. Grimmia trichophylla was abundant in several places.
In the late afternoon the minibus contingent was transported to Dunbar to catch the London train and thus ended a most enjoyable meeting.
I would like to record my thanks to the RBGE for hosting the meeting, and to Sally Rae, Liz Kungu, Daniela Schill and Gordon Rothero for assisting in running the meeting.
DAVID G. LONG
Preston Montford field Centre, November 2002
The workshop marked the beginning the Society’s Survey of Bryophytes of Arable Land (SBAL). On the first day there were lectures and practical sessions; the SBAL recording pack was handed out. On the second day we tried out the methodology in the field. It was a pleasure to welcome three visitors from overseas, Irene Bisang and Niklas Lönnell from Sweden, and Herman Stieperaere from Belgium.
SATURDAY 16 SEPTEMBER
Ron Porley set out the conservation background to SBAL. Cereal field margins are a priority for the Biodiversity Action Plan. In spite of this, little is known about how arable bryophytes have responded to past changes in farming practice. We need more information on the effects of organic farming, on the value of regularly leaving winter stubble, and on the types of flora that can be expected under crops other than cereals.
Irene Bisang introduced us to the biology of arable bryophyte diaspores. There are often large discrepancies between the diaspore bank and emerged plants on the surface. Pleurocarpous mosses are normally absent from the diaspore bank. Bryophyte spores and vegetative propagules are often long-lived. They can be incorporated into deeper soil layers, for example by earthworms. There is little inherent dormancy or seasonal variation (Sphaerocarpos texanus is an exception). Spores of Anthocerotae persist in the soil over long periods, mature plants being apparent only in years that have a favourable crop.
Mark Hill outlined the survey methodology and possible approaches to analysis. The SBAL methodology recognizes three types of field: random (located in a randomly selected tetrad), ordinary and special. Analysis will seek to identify patterns of response to differing soils and climate, as well as the effects of farm management.
Chris Preston described how to use the card. The card is complicated, but rapidly becomes easier to fill in with practice. SBAL contributors are urged to persevere and not to panic. In particular, cover values and species frequencies estimated by eye do not have to be very accurate.
Finally, David Holyoak told us about Bryum in arable fields. He handed out draft keys to European species of Bryum. Several microspecies allied to Bryum bicolor do not appear to be distinct, being connected by obviously intermediate plants. British bryologists should keep an eye out for B. demaretianum and B. valparaisense.
SUNDAY 17 SEPTEMBER
In calm dry weather the party of 28 bryologists made its way to an arable field at Ford, about 3 km from Preston Montford. First, we recorded at a station in the centre of the field. Then the party divided to record the four corners. Although the field was quite rich in bryophytes, with a total of 22 species, the species were typical for wheat stubble on slightly acid loam, pH 6.6. Bryum bicolor was abundant, and B. rubens, B. violaceum, Dicranella staphylina, Ditrichum cylindricum and Tortula acaulon were frequent. There were small quantities of Ephemerum serratum var. minutissimum, Pleuridium acuminatum, Riccia glauca and R. sorocarpa.
The next site was a field, pH 7.4, near Atcham on the River Severn, in one of the 100 random tetrads to be visited by SBAL. Although randomly chosen, it proved to be remarkably interesting. Tortula truncata was abundant. Barbula unguiculata, Bryum bicolor, B. violaceum, Pohlia melanodon and Tortula acaulon were frequent. Hennediella stanfordensis was present. Mark Lawley found Pohlia lescuriana (with round tubers) and Chris Preston found P. melanodon (with moniliform tubers). The best find was Didymodon tomaculosus*, new to Shropshire, detected first by David Holyoak and subsequently by Jonathan Sleath. A nearby stubblefield, pH 6.9, bordering the Severn, was examined by Sam Bosanquet, who had noticed H. stanfordensis there. Many of the same species occurred, including D. tomaculosus, found by Ron Porley. Bryum gemmiferum, Lunularia cruciata and Marchantia polymorpha were added to the list for the day. Sam again found Pleuridium acuminatum. We had lunch in the open air, listening to the swirling waters of the Severn as they flowed under the fine old bridge.
Lower Betton Farm (SJ50J)
In the afternoon, the party visited a second randomly selected stubblefield, pH 6.9, on the other side of the same tetrad. No new species were added, but we recorded 21 species, including Bryum gemmiferum, Ephemerum serratum var. minutissimum and Riccia glauca. Pohlia melanodon from this field also had tubers. The weather remained excellent, and as the sun was setting the remnants of the party took tea with Will Prestwood, an ecologist who happens to live at Lower Betton Farm.
Taken together, the two random fields and that at Ford averaged 22.7 species per field. The average for the mid-field positions was 16.7 and that for the corners or ends was 15.0. Recording of edge positions resembled that on a normal field visit, the high whole-field totals being the consequence of intensive recording by many bryologists. However, Sam Bosanquet’s field by the River Severn was not searched more intensively than on a normal field visit. It produced 25 species. Proximity to the river clearly enhanced the species list.
The main purpose of the workshop was to familiarize the team with field procedures for SBAL. At the end of the second day, most of the party had gained confidence, not least because they had been asked to fill in one of the recording sheets. It was a pleasure to see such real enthusiasm for the project. SBAL has got off to an auspicious and enjoyable start.