23 June 2017 by Chris Cathrine | Comments: 0
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Senior ecologist and company bryologist Julie Smith reports from amongst the fallen trees of the Black Wood of Rannoch.
In January 2017 Caledonian Conservation Ltd undertook a surveillance survey across the Tay Forest District for a rare bryophyte listed under Annex II of the EU Habitats Directive which occurs on deadwood, green shield moss (Buxbaumia viridis). The aim was to survey suitable habitat to improve understanding of the distribution of the species in Scotland.
During a recent Native Woodland Discussion Group (NWDG) meeting a member had noted that there appeared to be a lack of deadwood across the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) element of Black Wood of Rannoch, one of the largest extents of ancient Caledonian Pine wood in Scotland. While our winter survey there had indeed found limited quantities there was locally frequent deadwood of good size and stage of decay along the Dall Burn and its tributaries to the east. Buxbaumia viridis was not recorded within the SSSI, but it was on neighbouring Forest Enterprise (FE) land, by the Kilvrecht campsite, again to the east.
In spite of the long term use of the Black Wood for timber extraction up until the wartime felling of the 20th century, the ancient pinewood has persisted and is now managed by Forest Enterprise (FE) under non-intervention. It is expected there will be an increase in deadwood across the SSSI in future years, which means more suitable habitat for Buxbaumia viridis. FE staff and other visitors to the woodland should be encouraged to familiarise themselves with this distinctive little moss and its preferred microhabitat, as it may very well turn up there soon!
At the end of the NWDG meeting Julie revisited the mature fallen Kilvrecht birch tree where the moss was found and became reacquainted with the impressive capsules, albeit at a different growth stage!
The photo below shows a Buxbaumia viridis capsule on mature fallen birch tree in early June 2017 (capsules have reached maturity and are golden brown in colour).