Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Splach, at last

I've spent most of the last 6 weeks walking through wet, acidic, cattle-grazed pasture counting Marsh Fritillary larval webs (or mapping their habitat). I've kept my eyes open for Splachnum whenever I've seen a suitably old cow pat, but have seen nothing...until today (the final day of these surveys).

I brought home a few promising-looking samples from Seven Sisters, and sure enough two of them have the distinctive toothy leaves of Splachnum ampullaceum. These were in a very large (20+ hectare) grazing unit located on a failed spruce/larch plantation (SN8308), now fenced to enable cattle grazing to improve the habitat for Marsh Fritillay.
Splachnum ampullaceum
Splachnum ampullaceum
 Also in the same area, on another pat, were some smaller plants which I think are also Splachnum. The leaves were only 2mm long (compared to 4mm in the above photo) and much less toothed. I'm not sure if these are sphaericum or just young plants of ampullaceum - any comments welcome (see photos below).






Also on the pats was a patch of what I can only assume is Pohlia nutans. Is this remotely feasible on a cow pat? Cells were elongated throughout the leaf, leaves are unbordered with a dentate apex and up to 4mm long at the tips of the stems, with dense rhizoidal tomentum below.

Thanks
George

5 comments:

  1. That's fantastic George. It looks like you have both species to me. Looks identical to the material collected by Sam last year (click on 'Splachnum' in label gadget list to the right to quickly locate Sam's post, that's if you haven't already).

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  2. Excellent, thanks Barry. It does look a good match to Sam's sphaericum...hopefully he will agree with your diagnosis.

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  3. I do agree - well done George! I've seen S ampullaceum in the Pyrddin area with Graham, but S sphaericum is very rare indeed in south Wales.

    I'm hoping to have a day of bryology on Saturday, so will post if I find anything of interest.

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  4. Excellent, great result. There was a good selection of suitable poo in the flush on Rhossili yesterday, but not a sniff of any Splachnum. Maybe they prefer higher ground?
    Good luck on Saturday Sam

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  5. Great news, thanks both. Regarding Barry's last comment, I spent about 6 days on the Gower Commons last month and no sign of any Splachnum. Could there be a link to ivermectins?

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