Ptyxis Ecology - Our Botany Blog

Saturday, 7 June 2008

There's something else in the bog!

See our post of 19th January for pictures of amazing-looking testate amoebae taken by Chris Carter. Chris really wanted to find desmids (a type of unicellular alga with lateral symmetry) in the sphagnum samples but the samples I collected the first time were not from the right bit of the bog. So since then I have been collecting the most gungy, horrible-looking bits of sphagnum from bog pools. The more gungy they are the more excited Chris gets!

Here are some stunning photos of some of the desmids he has found in sphagnum samples from Widdybank Fell in upper Teesdale:

This next one is a testate amoeba rather than a desmid.

There is a method of assigning conservation value to mire sites based on the species of desmids that is used in the Netherlands. Using the first 3 small sphagnum samples Chris found 17 species (8 of which were red list) which already gives Widdybank fell a score of 6 out of 10. The pictures above are from 2 more samples collected recently and already Chris has found several extra species so this will result in an even higher conservation score from a very small amount of sampling.

The bog at Widdybank Fell is very species-rich and is well known for its conservation value for other groups of species. On my last visit Viola rupestris and Gentiana verna were flowering in the limestone grassland surrounding the bog and Minuartia stricta (at its only British site) was just about to flower in a flush. There was constant calling from golden plovers in the background and we almost stepped on a dunlin.

Viola rupestris growing on eroding sugar limestone at Widdybank Fell


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