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Annual General Meeting and Symposium - 2004

Preston Montford, 8 - 10 October

Mark Hill

CEH Monks Wood, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon , PE28 2LS


The Annual General Meeting and Bryological Symposium were held in the Field Studies Council’s station at Preston Montford near Shrewsbury , on 8-10 October, with Mark Hill (symposium) and Mark Lawley (excursions) as local secretaries. In November 2002, the BBS visited Preston Montford for the launch of the Survey of the Bryophytes of Arable Land (SBAL). In 2004 we continued the theme of bryological recording. About 50 people attended the meeting, of whom 40 stayed at Preston Montford, with others lodged nearby. At the suggestion of Mark Lawley, we experimented with an unusual meeting format, devoting the mornings to lectures and the afternoons to fieldwork.

Bryological symposium

The symposium, with its theme of bryological recording, ranged from local Floras, including one for Geneva , to national bryophyte recording and monitoring schemes. It was a pleasure to see new members and old friends; several long-standing members who do not normally attend indoor meetings told us how much they had enjoyed the lectures.

  • Monitoring change in single species of bryophyte
    David Holyoak (Camborne,
    Cornwall )
  • Changes in the bryophyte flora of eastern England
    Ken Adams (Loughton, Essex)
  • Shropshire ’s changing bryoflora … changes? what changes?
    Mark Lawley ( Ludlow , Shropshire )
  • The changing bryophyte flora of south Wales
    Sam D.S. Bosanquet (Countryside Council for Wales , Pembroke)
  • Recording schemes for special habitats, especially churchyards, urban habitats and orchards
    Robin Stevenson ( King’s Lynn , Norfolk )
  • The Survey of the Bryophytes of Arable Land : an update
    Jonathan Sleath (Kingstone, Hereford )
  • Should we have a recording scheme for autecological attributes?
    Dr Jeffrey W. Bates (Department of Biology, Imperial College at Silwood Park )
  • Inventory of hepatics and mosses in Geneva , Switzerland
    Michelle J. Price, Ariane Cailliau & Laurent Burgisser (Conservatory and Botanical Garden of Geneva )


Field excursions during the 2004 autumn meeting

The theme of the weekend was ‘recording bryological change’, with excursions to habitats that had been much altered by human activities.

Saturday 9 October

Members entertained themselves in mild, dry and bright conditions during the Saturday afternoon in four fields of wheat stubble at Pim Hill (SJ4821), north of Shrewsbury, and enthusiastically recorded their discoveries on SBAL cards for the national survey of arable bryophytes. The farm had been ‘organic’ (i.e. without use of herbicides, insecticides or inorganic fertiliser) for at least 50 years, which lent additional interest to our investigations, for little seems to be known of the extent to which (or even whether) chemical treatments affect arable bryofloras.

We recorded totals of 14, 18, 21 and 28 species from the four fields, our choicest finds being modest quantities of Anthoceros agrestis and Acaulon muticum from two fields, and Phascum cuspidatum var. schreberianum (Tortula acaulon var. schreberiana ) from one field. Fossombronia wondraczekii , Pleuridium subulatum and Pseudephemerum nitidum were also of interest, as these species are not normally rounded up among the usual suspects from arable fields in Shropshire .

We await the conclusions from the SBAL survey to see whether organic arable fields contain bryofloras which differ from those of ‘inorganic’ farms, but meanwhile feel satisfied with the bryodiversity we found at Pim Hill. The kindness of John Gwilliam, the farm manager, was very significant in the success of our afternoon, for he had considerately postponed ploughing the four fields which he made available to us.

Sunday 10 October

Spoil around abandoned lead mines provided a different kind of disturbed habitat for Sunday afternoon’s excursions. Members explored three sites: The Bog (SO3597), Gravels (SJ3360) and Snailbeach (SJ3702). The Bog and Snailbeach are owned or managed by Shropshire County Council, and are open to the public. The Gravels was thrown open to us by kind permission of the owners, Mr and Mrs Gough.

The Snailbeach contingent found Cephaloziella hampeana , while spoil and other ground surrounding abandoned lead mines at Gravels yielded Barbilophozia barbata ,B. floerkei , Archidium alternifolium, Bryum pallescens and Racomitrium elongatum but none of the rarities that are restricted to substrates containing large amounts of lead.

By popular demand, an addendum to the weekend’s al fresco activities became necessary following Dan Wrench’s wonderful discovery of Jamesoniella undulifolia a couple of weeks previously on Hopesay Hill (SO3983), west of Craven Arms. This Red Data Book species is classified as Endangered in Britain, with only three other post-1970 records, so is a most welcome addition to Shropshire’s bryoflora. Members met with mixed success in their attempts to relocate the colony of this liverwort, which looks much like Odontoschisma sphagni in the field, save perhaps for a touch more green to its leaves. But for those whose search was crowned with success, while a westering sun ensanguined the skies and cast long shadows over the hills around Hopesay, these few peaceful moments drew a veil of contentment over a weekend that had been full of bustle and interest.


Mark Lawley



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