Thursday, 20 July 2017

Please look for Ulota

After several hints that Ulota taxonomy was about to change (is the information that Ulota crispa comprises three species a 'spoiler' or a cause for concern?!), British bryologists now have no excuse to bury their heads in the sand.  Tom Blockeel has published an excellent overview of Ulota in the last Field Bryology, complete with a key and photos of endostome and exostome teeth.  There are only a few Welsh Vice-counties listed for each segregate species, with Ulota intermedia in VC41 a bit of a surprise, so there's a lot to be found.  With this in mind I have collected a few Ulota this summer, including U. crispa and U. crispula on willows at 300m altitude near Llyn Ogwen in Snowdonia (U. crispa photo above; I photographed the dull species); U. crispa on willows near Capel Curig; U. crispa on a lowland Hawthorn at Llangua in Monmouthshire; U. crispula on Hazel at 150m altitude at Gwernogle in Carmarthenshire; and U. intermedia on Lundy. 

Now is the perfect time to look for U. crispula and U. intermedia, because both seem to have old/post-ripe capsules, whereas U. crispa is still unripe/ripe with calyptrae.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Industrial interest

I've not seen Tortella bambergeri before, however a specimen I collected from a bank of limestone chippings (location shown above - site n.w. of Merthyr) seems to fit the bill nicely and if confirmed will be an addition to the county list. I've still yet to check it out under the microscope, but it matches photos in the field guide and a few I've found on line, with narrow, broken-tipped leaves with nerves that are matt below (though there is a little bit of shine in some angles, so any opinions welcome).

The habitat is a bit different to the species' described haunts, as was the community it was found in - although Herb-Robert can be seen to be abundant on the bank, the only verge constants were Small Toadflax, Field Forget-me-not and Schistidium crassipilum. Associates included Heath Groundsel and Wall Lettuce, the latter locally abundant in places across the site.

As I wasn't quite sure what the putative Tortella was when I found it (in fact I suspected it was odd-looking Didymodon sinuosus) I didn't take any reference shots, nor recorded how much there was. However, I do recall there being several scattered patches at the location shown, plus I'm pretty sure I saw it again at a different part of the site. In any case I'll be back, so will see what I can find...

Some images of my voucher, in drying and wetted states:

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Bog Earwort in Glamorgan

Two days ago I recorded small quantities of the Nationally Scarce Scapania paludicola at the same site I first noted it at in 2014 (top photo, one of several monitoring plots on Tair Carreg Moor), the land sitting in the shadow of the huge overburden mound on Merthyr Common. The vegetation in the area where it occurs is a mosaic of rather ordinary M24a and M6d, perhaps suggesting the species could be more widespread in the county than records currently indicate. Photographic sequences of the monitoring plot show the vegetation has become more rank in recent years due to reduced grazing, but despite this, low density bryos can still be found by carefully searching in the gaps between the tussocks of Molinia. Direct associates in this niche were all at very low abundance and included Calypogeia fissa, Hypnum jutlandicum, Scapania irrigua and Sphagnum denticulatum. The above photo shows the specimen collected in 2014, those below being from 2017, these perhaps better illustrating the strongly arched keel which gives the species its characteristic appearance.

Clare Mockridge has provided the bulk of Glamorgan records, with six entries from 1994 to 1998, a period of extensive Phase II NVC work in the county; though most records are from Llantrisant Common. The only other county record was provided by Peter (Sturgess) & Roy (Perry) at the Fochriw Reclamation Scheme Site in 2010. Wider searches will hopefully reveal more about this seemingly localised species.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Pohlia lutescens

We found some patches of Pohlia lutescens on peaty soil in a ditch in marshy grassland in the Upper Dulais Valley, near Seven Sisters yesterday (SN80D). There are few records of it in VC41, but it may be overlooked. The photo below shows it growing with Pseudephemerum nitidum (moss with capsules in the bottom right corner), which gives a good indication of how small it is. It has very distinctive, knobbly, rhizoidal gemmae (bottom photo).

Pohlia lutescens and Pseudephemerum nitidum, Seven Sisters

Pohlia lutescens

Rhizoidal gemmae of Pohlia lutescens

Other things of interest in the vicinty included Scorpidium cossinii and Plagiomnium elatum in a very nice base-flushed meadow near Seven Sisters Rugby Club. 

Monday, 5 June 2017

Swamp Feather-moss near Merthyr

At 340m asl, a population of Amblystegium radicale to the north-west of Merthyr was found to be well established at more than twice the maximum elevation given in the new bryophyte atlas. Whether or not the species is extending it's range eastwards, upwards, or just that it is now better understood is debatable. Direct associates around the margins of this very small reservoir included Drepanocladus aduncus and Marchantia polymorpha subsp. polymorpha. 

104 taxa were recorded at this rural industrial site with a good mix of calcicoles and calcifuges represented taking the totals for SN90Y and SO00D onto 156 and 65 respectively. Other species of interest noted, which give a flavour of the site, included Aneura pinguis, Aulacomnium palustre, Campyliadelphus chrysophyllus, Campylium protensum, Carex arenaria, C. divulsa d., C. hostiana, C. pilulifera, C. pulicaris, Climacium dendroides, Didymodon ferrugineus, Ditrichum gracile, Homalothecium lutescens, Loeskeobryum brevirostre (photos 1 & 2 below), Pyrola rotundifolia (photo below), Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus, Sanionia uncinata, Scapania irrigua, Syntrichia ruralis var. ruraliformis, Tortella tortuosa & Weissia controversa var. densifolia.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Spring tide inundation of the endangered moss Bryum marratti

Recently I've had the pleasure of working with Dr Des Callaghan, on a PlantLifeCymru funded project. Part of the project aims to characterise the setting of Bryum marratti in respect to sea water and fresh water in the upper salt marsh areas at Whiteford and Pembrey.

We are writing up our results of this stage of the project now, however we have a little taster video from last weeks high tide, which provides evidence that at least some of the colonies are directly inundated by sea water during high tides.

Best not too say too much more before I crunch the numbers, but here is a video for you all to enjoy until we have something more substantial.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Coal spoil at Penygroes

A total of 60 bryos were recorded growing directly on coal spoil at this development site in Penygroes, vc44. Most interest was focused on the mildly basic 'Cratoneuron filicinum-Bryum pseudotriquetrum' seepages found around the margins of the site, with noteworthy species including Bryoerythrophyllum ferruginascens and Palustriella falcata. Both were rare on site and it's the first time that I have encountered the latter on spoil, the location of the only patch I saw shown below. 

The central plateau was much less interesting, being dominated by Campylopus introflexus and Lotus corniculatus, which together with locally frequent Cladonia spp. formed a distinctive coal spoil community.