Monday, 28 December 2015

Rhododendron clearance pioneer bryophytes

Today I stopped to take a very quick look at an area on the valley sides of Cwmdulais (SN618035), which were cleared of dense stands of Rhododendron ponticum four years ago. Vascular plants seem very slow in recolonising and the ground was found to be largely dominated by bryophytes, with the most abundant species being Ceratodon purpureus and Polytrichum juniperinum, with frequent Atrichum undulatum, Bryum capillare, Campylopus introflexus, Cephaloziella divaricata, Dicranella heteromalla, Pogonatum aloides and Polytrichastrum formosum. No surprises, but a good indication of the pioneer bryophyte assemblage which develops following ‘Rhody’ clearance on open hillsides. For reference the adjacent vegetation on non-affected slopes is principally Bracken-dominated, though there are some signs of this slowly re-establishing in cleared areas.
Polytrichum juniperinum
Ceratodon purpureus & Dicranella heteromalla
Interestingly Yellowhammers still occupy the Rhody areas, both cleared and dense stands, and we saw 7+ nearby in Sandra's aunties garden.

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