AONB volunteers hard at work in the former Meesia slack
We have got to hope that it is not too late though: NRW have applied for EU funding to rejuvenate a suite of Welsh dunes, and large-scale action at Aberffraw may bring some of the rare mosses back from the brink. Meesia may not be able to wait for rejuvenation to work, though, so we have tried a bit of scraping in its last slack, just in case there might be some dormant spores or buried plant fragments that could be encouraged into life. Hannah Shaw from the Freshwater Habitats Trust organised a band of volunteers from the Anglesey AONB to dig out some shallow scrapes, carefully located to avoid damage to the bryophytes and vascular plants that remained in the slack. Who knows if this will work, but at least we have tried!
Abietinella, with stem leaves showing features of both A. hystricosa and A. abietina
After my 2 hour crawl around the Meesia slack, marking out the scrapes, I had a short while to spare and headed north through the big (former Southbya) slack past a few relict patches of Abietinella and over a dune ridge. Pete Jones told me last year that there was a slack with Pinguicula and Parnassia there, and as far as I knew this had never been checked by a bryologist. To my great relief, this slack has less mature vegetation than the former Meesia site, and a richer flora, including good carpets of Leiocolea badensis and at least 20 patches of Southbya tophacea (SH36726949, but don't under any circumstances collect any!). I only searched about 1/3 of this slack before my time ran out, so there is still a faint hope that Amblyodon or even Meesia or Catoscopium could survive there...
Southbya male and female