Quinag Wildlife Project – Bryophytes
Bryophytes: background and datasets
Ian M. Evans
Gordon Rothero’s expert account of the bryophytes of Quinag (view [4.8MB pdf] here) is a product of visits spanning three decades, so some background information may be appropriate.
He writes that he was ‘born a long time ago in deepest Sussex, but [has been] resident in Scotland (Dunoon) for more than 40 years and a regular visitor to Assynt for nearly 30 years. A now ageing but once very active climber and mountaineer, after university (Bristol BSc) [he] pursued a career in outdoor education, which allowed an interest in mountain plants to develop into a fascination (obsession?) with Scotland’s mosses and liverworts. This resulted in a further degree (Glasgow MSc) and a part-time and then, after finally retiring from teaching, a full-time career as a consultant botanist. [His] main areas of interest and expertise are in Scotland’s temperate rainforest and montane habitats, particularly snow-bed vegetation [the subject of his MSc] and of course, wandering around Scotland’s hills in the search for the perfect lunch spot.’
Gordon is co-author of the A checklist of the Flowering Plants and Ferns of Main Argyll (Rothero and Thompson, 1994) and author of the bryophyte sections in the Flora of Assynt (Evans, Evans and Rothero, 2002) and The Flora of Rum (Pearman, Preston, Rothero and Walker, 2008). He has published numerous papers and reports on bryophytes and montane vascular plants.
Pat and I first met him on 20th April 1992, when he arrived for a four day reconnaissance of the area for a British Bryological Society field meeting later in the year. This visit happily coincided with a shorter one by Chris (REC) Ferreira, during which we were introduced to the woodland at Creag an Spardain. Gordon returned to stay with us for the BBS meeting 29th July-4th August, which was based at Lochinver, and included memorable visits to the north face of Sail Ghorm on 31st July, and Conival on 3rd August (see his account in Bull. Brit. Bryol. Soc. 61, 5-8, 1993).
Since 1992, he has come up to Nedd two or three times a year. I have had the pleasure of ‘scribing’ for him on many of these visits, noting his finds in the field. This has taken us into areas we might otherwise never have visited, where we have also recorded other plant and animal life.
In the ten seasons up to 2001, Gordon managed to visit 99 of the 164 tetrads in Assynt, logging 13,600 records of 156 species of liverworts and 345 species of mosses. These records, together with historic ones of a further 14 liverworts and 20 mosses, were the basis for his major contribution to the Flora of Assynt (pp.179-256). He also added substantially to knowledge of the vascular plants of montane parts of the parish, notably Canisp, Conival, Quinag and Suilven.
Since 2002, we have continued to mop-up unrecorded parts of Assynt, but also made a start on sites of interest further north, often logging both bryophytes and vascular plants. Recently, Gordon has joined us on expeditions to even further-flung parts of West Sutherland, over to the Caithness border, from a base at Tongue, initially as contributions to the BSBI Atlas 2020. These have given us some truly memorable days on the coast, remote hills and off-shore islands.
Quinag bryophyte records (view [166KB xlsx] here). This is a simplified version of a spreadsheet down-loaded by Gordon from the NBN. It contains all the records from the area covered by the JMT estate boundaries, including those from his 16 visits to Quinag between 23rd April 1992 and 14th May 2021, and runs to some 3170 lines. The commoner species are localised to tetrad, the rarer ones to 100m or 10m square.
Also included are records by Ben and Alison Averis (2006-2007 vegetation survey), Tom Blockeel (BBS visit on 31st July 1992), M.K. Flagmeier (who researched the oceanic-montane liverwort heath communities in 2010) and others.
Gordon has also compiled a species list (view [26KB xlsx] here) of the 347 taxa so far recorded from Quinag (118 liverworts and 229 mosses). Appended to this list are recent changes in nomenclature, conservation status, the biogeography of oceanic species and English names, the sources for which are given below.
Blockeel TL, Bell NE, Hill MO, Hodgetts NG, Long DG, Pilkington SL, Rothero GP, 2021. A new checklist of the bryophytes of Britain and Ireland. Journal of Bryology 43,1-51.
Hill MO, Blackstock TH, Long DG, Rothero GP, 2008. A Checklist and Census Catalogue of British and Irish Bryophytes. British Bryological Society.
Hill MO & Preston CD, 1998. The geographical relationships of British and Irish bryophytes. Journal of Bryology 20,127-22.
Pescott O, 2016. Revised lists of nationally rare and scarce bryophytes for Britain. Field Bryology 115, 22-30.