Taxonomic workshop 1974: Woolwich, London

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16 November 1974 - 17 November 1974

Workshop report

The Society’s first meeting devoted to taxonomic studies took place on 16 November in the School of Biological Sciences of Thames Polytechnic, London, by kind permission of Mr M. D. Morisetti. We thank Dr Paddy Coker for so expertly making the local arrangements. The meeting, attended by 28 members and guests, was intended to be of assistance to beginners in teaching them something about the practical side of naming bryophytes under the microscope. Talks by experts were followed by question and answer sessions and practical indentification of material (participants had been invited to bring along some of their ‘problem’ specimens).

The meeting was opened by Dr G. C. S. Clarke who introduced the first speaker. Mr A. C. Crundwell on Bryum gave hints on the preparation of material for microscopical study and pointed out some of the problems of identification in the genus, e.g. hybridity. Material collected should be of good quality and if possible bear ripe but not decayed sporophytes. Several species – B. salinum, B. pendulum, B. caespiticium, B. intermedium and B. inclinatum – are indistinguishable sterile. Members of the ‘erythrocarpum‘ and bicolor complexes are unidentifiable without tubers or gemmae.

Dr E. W. Jones reviewed the species of Cephaloziella and of Cephalozia in Britain and showed that although many of the species were easily recognized there were certain groups that often give trouble, e.g. Cephaloziella rubella / hampeana / starkei and Cephalozia ambigua / bicuspidata / lammersiana. He pointed out the importance of sexual structures in identification.

The afternoon session was opened by Dr A. J. E. Smith who gave the results of his recent study of British Ulota species, to be published in a forthcoming paper. He also gave a conspectus of classification of the genus Grimmia in Britain and listed the errors in Grimmia in Dixon’s Handbook (especially in the key+).

+ Because of the deficiencies in Dixon’s key Dr Smith has prepared keys to the Grimmiaceae which are published in this Bulletin.

Mr A. R. Perry showed how the characters used in the identification of Scapania species might best be observed and discussed the importance of lobe decurrence as a key character. He doubted that S. scandica, S. curta and S. mucronata could be separated in the absence of perianths. A key to British species, adapted from Buch, was handed out.

The majority of those attending the Taxonomic Teach-in joined a field meeting of the London Natural History Society on 17 November by kind invitation of the leader, Mr E. C. Wallace.

The meeting was at Coombe Bottom, Surrey, v.-c. 17. This is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a woodland area on the scarp slope of the North Downs, the highest part capped with the gravelly Netley Heath deposits. Among the species seen on wood were Dicranum strictum, Bryum flaccidum, Nowellia curvifolia and Plagiothecium curvifolium. Broken pieces of chalk gave us Rhynchostegiella tenella, Fissidens minutulus var. tenuifolius, Tortella inflexa, Seligeria paucifolia and a little S. calcarea. On cleared ground Phascum cuspidatum, Pottia recta, P. truncata and P. intermedia were fruiting well.

In the afternoon we moved a little further west along the escarpment for other terrestrial species. Eurhynchium schleicheri was on loamy soil by the Silent Pool and on the slopes above we saw many typical calcicoles including Brachythecium glareosum, Entodon concinnus, Leiocolea turbinata, Ditrichum flexicaule and Encalypta streptocarpa. We are grateful to Mr Wallace for the interesting finale to a very successful weekend.

I am grateful to Mrs J. E. Smith for preparing the account of the field meeting.

A. R. Perry


Woolwich, London