Connemara field meeting 1998.

In late April and early May on the field meeting in Connemara, a wide range of lichens were found. We were based near Spiddal with Mrs Folan for the first few days, and then stayed with Mrs O’Sullivan on the Dooras peninsula.
We started in Shannawoneen wood, M1224 and M1225, an oakwood on peaty soil over granite. The roadside walls yielded some Lobaria scrobiculata, Sticta sylvatica, Leptogium lichenoides overgrowing bryophytes and the familiar range of Hypogymnia physodes, Parmelia caperata, Parmelia saxatilis, Porpidia tuberculosa, Ramalina siliquosa, Tephromela atra, Usnea flammea with parasites Abrothallus microspermus anamorph, Abr. parmeliarum, Biatoropsis usnearum, Cecidonia xenophana, Endococcus propinquus, Homostegia pigottii, Lichenoconium erodens and Phacopsis oxyspora. At the edge of the wood, we met the Abrothallus suecicus anamorph and Abr. parmotrematis on oak branches, Herteliana taylorii and on holly Arthonia ilicina, Celothelium ischnobelum, Graphis elegans, Schismatomma niveum, a new vice-county record (nvcr), and Stenocybe septata. Further up the wood by the river, Lobaria pulmonaria was seen. In open ground with atlantic blanket bog NWof the wood, huge granite erratic blocks supported Bryoria fuscescens (nvcr), Hypogymnia physodes, Mycoblastus sanguinarius (nvcr), Ochrolechia androgyna, Parmelia caperata, Sphaerophorus globosus with Fuscidea cyathoides, Porpidia tuberculosa and Parmelia omphalodes. After lunch in Bearna, we spent the afternoon at Rusheen Nature Reserve, M2523, a tiny coppice wood on one acre by the estuary. Rocks on the sea wall supported Anaptychia runciniata, Caloplaca marina, Caloplaca crenularia, Dermatocarpon miniatum, Lecanora helicopsis, Ochrolechia parella, Ramalina siliquosa, Rhizocarpon richardii, Tephromela atra, Verrucaria maura and Xanthoria parietina. The maritime lichen chart was circulated to novices, who were asked to pick three thalli on the wall for naming, and their conclusions were examined individually. With careful observation, most people fared well. Aspicilia leprosescens was quite common on the wall and a search for Stigmidium aggregatum failed. This lichenicolous species was originally described from a specimen of Asp. leprosescens (not Asp. calcarea, Mudd 1861: 298), on coastal slates in Co. Down in the 1860s, and it has not been seen on this host since then (Hawksworth 1983: 14). The trees had a limited flora, but one of two surviving elms yielded Collema subflaccidum.
On Sunday 26 April 1998 we drove to the causeway leading out to Crappagh Island, W of Lettermullan, L8222. This island has granite in the north and amphibolite in the south. A traverse of the island demonstrated the clear floristic distinction between drystone walls with Ochrolechia parella, Ramalina siliquosa, Tephromela atra etc. and flushed bedrock with Aspicilia caesiocinerea, Cladonia subcervicornis, Parmelia conspersa and P. loxodes. On the west coast of Crappagh, granite joints with Sea Pink Armeria maritima roots supported Agonimia tristicula, Collema furfuraceum, Degelia ligulata and Dermatocarpon miniatum. Some slabs further south with the Parmelia conspersa-P. loxodes flush assemblage had Marchandiomyces corallinus on both Parmelia spp. and Lecanora muralis. On Parmelia conspersa, several spots were found but when later examined these proved no fungus but isidium scars and burrows of mites. The search for Abrothallus caerulescens and Stigmidium xanthoparmeliarum in Connemara goes on ! Ivy, Hedera helix ssp. hibernica is a brilliant saxicolous Lobarion indicator on crags in very exposed treeless parts of Western Ireland. An area of amphibolite crags on Crappagh Island, L829225, with some ivy and underhangs inland supported a challenging range of white saxicolous crusts characteristic of Atlantic coastal heaths: Arthonia atlantica, Coccotrema citrinescens, Diploicia canescens, Dirina massaliensis sorediata (nvcr), Herteliana taylorii, Haematomma ochroleucum, Lecanora gangaleoides, L. rupicola, Lecidea phaeops, Ochrolechia androgyna, O. parella, Pertusaria albescens, P. cf. chiodectonoides, P. corallina, P. excludens, a fascinating crust which turned out to be P. monogona (nvcr), P. pseudocorallina, Porpidia cinereoatra, Sclerophyton circumscriptum and Tephromela atra. Anaptychia runciniata, Fuscidea cyathoides, Lecanora sulphurea, Pertusaria flavicans, Ramalina cuspidata, Rinodina luridescens, Rhizocarpon geographicum and Sphaerophorus globosus added colour and texture to the sward. Given the Lobarion potential, a patch of Lobaria virens materialised here for the group. This locality was the sole site for Arthonia diploiciae (nvcr), and had the best developed Sclerophyton circumscriptum assemblage on the meeting. In the mid afternoon, we went to Toindubh, a headland of SW Lettermullen, L8221. Here a north-west facing amphibolite cliff yielded a spectacular 50m long Lobarion element with Degelia atlantica, Heterodermia obscurata, Leptogium brittanicum, L. cyanescens, Lobaria pulmonaria, L. virens, Nephroma laevigatum, Parmeliella triptophylla, Peltigera horizontalis, a substantial colony of Pseudocyphellaria crocata (nvcr), Sticta fuliginosa, among Anaptychia runciniata and strands of Ramalina cuspidata in excess of a foot long. The usual white saxicolous crusts were here. On a traverse to pillow-lavas on the south side of the peninsula, Degelia ligulata turned up frequently again on old Armeria stems. Dactylospora parellaria on Och. parella, Sclerococcum sphaerale on Pertusaria corallina and Marchandiomyces corallinus on Ramalina subfarinacea were the most obvious lichen parasites.
Having begun to get our teeth into the superb oceanic lichen flora on amphibolite, on Monday morning we resumed on the SE coast of Gorumna Island, L8921. The foreshore yielded Pyrenocollema halodytes, Verrucaria striatula, V. mucosa, V. maura, Stigmidium marinum, Lichina pygmaea, and further up Aspicilia leprosescens without any parasites, Lichina confinis, Lecanora albescens, L. fugiens, L. helicopsis, Caloplaca marina, C. thallincola and the now familar Agonimia tristicula, Collema furfuraceum, Degelia ligulata, Dermatocarpon miniatum community. Solenopsora holophaea and S. vulturiensis were very scarce and Polychidium muscicola was a slight surprise in the Schistidium maritimum zone. Ledges with Cladonia rangiformis and Peltigera rufescens supported a lobulate Nephroma, provoking debate that it might well be N. tangierense, a claim still requiring confirmation. A careful search of a Plantago sward with bare clay yielded Moelleropsis nebulosa and Verrucaria bryoctona (nvcr) but some terricolous species expected did not show up. Calcite veins in the amphibolite added Caloplaca citrina, Catillaria lenticularis, Gyalecta jenensis, Lecanora albescens, L. muralis, Toninia aromatica, Verrucaria nigrescens. After a picnic lunch we continued to search for new niches. Creeping willow, Salix repens here had a limited epiphyte flora. Arthonia radiata, Caloplaca cerina, Fuscidea lightfootii, Lecania erysibe, Opegrapha atra, Physcia tenella, Ramalina farinacea and Xanthoria parietina occurred mainly on old stems of the largest bushes. After getting a bit blazé about the uniformity of the oceanic grey-zone element with an Ochrolechia parella, Ramalina siliquosa, Schaereria fuscocinerea, Tephromela atra assemblage on prominent rocks and Cecidonia xenophana, Coccotrema citrinescens, Herteliana taylorii, Lecidea phaeops, Nephroma laevigatum, Normandina pulchella, Pertusaria flavicans, etc., on wet seepages, we came upon a quite distinct assemblage on an east sloping slab with Cetraria aculeata, Cladonia portentosa, Cl. subcervicornis, Cl. uncialis, Hypogymnia physodes, Micarea lignaria, Parmelia caperata, P. omphalodes, P. saxatilis, Placynthiella icmalea, Platismatia glauca, Sphaerophorus globosus, Stereocaulon vesuvianum, Trapelia coarctata and Trapeliopsis pseudogranulosa. This element is characteristic of peat bogs with granite blocks which dominate the northern half of Gorumna Island. During the late afternoon as we were flagging, a few extra species began appearing including Collema subflaccidum and Nephroma parile on ivy stems in a damp sheltered gulley. A careful study of a large S-facing outcrop with Lecidea fuscoatra, Lecidea fuliginosa, Rhizocarpon obscuratum, Schaereria fuscocinerea indicated that Cecidonia xenophana was very common on Porpidia cineroatra, and that Pertusaria excludens was a frequent component of the amphibolite whitewash. On Pertusaria flavicans close to ground level, the typical brown arcs of Rhizocarpon advenulum appeared and we initially considered an infection on Pertusaria pseudocorallina to be the same species. In retrospect, Cyphelium marcianum seemed a more likely candidate, and on a revisit this autumn the occurrence of Cyphelium marcianum (nvcr) was confirmed. In the late evening, a very difficult pulvinate Pertusaria was collected on a cliff, and the rarely recorded Lecanora subcarnea was extracted from an underhang.
After such a pleasant previous day, we restarted a few kilometres west at a harbour on the S coast of Gorumna, L879212. We began on a wet crag clothed with Herteliana taylorii, Lecidea phaeops and Pertusaria flavicans. A calcite lens about a foot wide in this cliff held some nice additions of now ruderal species around Clauzadea monticola, Verrucaria hochstetteri, Caloplaca citrina, and some Lepraria lesdainii (nvcr). A sunny SE facing slab at the Harbour with Anaptychia runciniata, Buellia ocellata, Lecanora muralis, Parmelia conspersa, P. loxodes, hosted Sphinctrina tubiformis (nvcr) on Pertusaria pseudocorallina. A brisk march SE to the coast for lunch at Aillewore, L8820, brought us to a wonderful exposed shore, white with lichens inland and grey with Degelia ligulata in the crevices in the Armeria belt at the top of the shore. Scrambling further east Parmeliella leucophaea was added to the Gorumna list, and Parmeliella triptophylla was seen in a few spots. After two and a half days looking at amphibolite whitewash, a burnt Lecanora polytropa with Carbonea-oid ascomata finally sent me completely over the edge. Three microscope slides later and a 2700 mile drive this summer to see a specimen in GZU proved that it was definitely not Carbonea supersparsa !
Wednesday 29 April, in Derryclare wood L8349 was a pleasant change of scene, in the best quality oceanic woodland habitat in Connemara (Folan & Mitchell 1970 Proc. R. Ir. Acad. 70B 163-170), with the demands of field identification of epiphytic Lobarion macrolichens and oceanic corticolous crusts. Collema fasciculare (nvcr) on hazel, C. furfuraceum, C. subflaccidum, Degelia atlantica, D. plumbea, Leptogium brebissonii, L. burgesii, L. cyanescens, L. cochleatum, L. gelatinosum, L. lichenoides, Lobaria pulmonaria with Plectocarpon lichenum (nvcr), L. virens, Nephroma laevigatum, Pannaria conoplea, P. pezizoides, P. rubiginosa, Parmeliella parva (nvcr), P. testacea (nvcr) on hazel, P. triptophylla, Peltigera horizontalis, P. praetextata, Sticta canariensis in massive swards on ash, St. c. dufourii frequently with Hemigrapha astericus on joined morphs, St. fuliginosa, St. limbata and St. sylvatica. A quick look at the hazel yielded Arthonia didyma, A. ilicina, Arthopyrenia antecellans, Celothelium ischnobelum, Graphina anguina, Graphis elegans, G. scripta, Opegrapha atra, O. brevis, Phaeographis smithii, Porina aenea, Pyrenula occidentalis, Thelotrema lepadinum, Th. monospora auct. and Th. petractoides. Mature oaks trunks were quite rich with Acrocordia gemmata, Agonimia octospora (nvcr), Arthonia spadicea, A. vinosa, Biatora epixanthoides (nvcr), B. sphaeroides, Catillaria atropurpurea, C. pulvurea, Chrysothrix candelaris, Cladonia spp., Dimerella lutea, several species of Lepraria s.lat., Lecanactis abietina, Megalospora tuberculosa, Normandina pulchella, Ochrolechia androgyna, Opegrapha varia, Pacyphiale carneola, Phyllopsora rosei (nvcr), Pyrrhospora quernea, Thelopsis rubella (nvcr) and Thelotrema lepadinum. In addition to vast swards of Sticta canariensis c., Ash trees yielded Bacidia rubella, Dimerella pineti, Gyalecta truncigena (nvcr) and Strigula taylorii (nvcr). A species with large black apothecia took a while to register as Bactrospora homalotropa. A mineral soil bank leading to the wood supported Bryophagus gloeocapsa (nvcr). The saxicolous flora in the wood includes some endolithic Verrucaria spp. on limestone and the usual siliceous lakeshore suspects Collema flaccidum, C. glebulentum, Dermatocarpon miniatum and Staurothele fissa. The overriding impression in Derryclare is the vulnerability of some lichens with very small populations, the generally simplified epiphytic flora on many individual tree stems, and the exposure and acidity of the upper margin of the wood adjacent to conifer clearfell.
On Thursday, we slowly climbed Doughruagh from the south west flank, L7259 to L7559. A rather uneventful siliceous rock flora with Cladonia spp., Coccotrema citrinescens, Herteliana taylorii, Hymenelia lacustris, Lecidea lithophila, L. phaeops, Micarea lignaria, Pertusaria flavicans, Porpidia macrocarpa, Stereocaulon vesuvianum, Tremolechia atrata, and so on were seen on the ascent. The most enlightening feature was the rediscovery of micashist overhangs (L7459) about 2m to 4m high, now fringed with Rhododendron, a habitat from which Charles du bois Larbalestier probably collected several rare oceanic species in the 1870s In one patch, several interesting oceanic species such as Bacidia carneoglauca, Enterographa hutchinsiae, Lecanactis abietina, Haematomma ochroleucum, Thelotrema lepadinum, Tylothallia biformigera and a tiny black stipitate lichen which was passed off as nascent Pilophorus strumaticus, were found growing directly on micashist. After a brave initial attempt to make the top, we stopped to view the Kylemore ‘assart’, a rounded field cleared from woodland in the valley below. The gabbro on the summit plateau L7559 was remarkably bare of lichens but those there . At a flushed stream head, gabbro cobbles set in very thin peaty beds was covered in Amygdalaria consentiens (nvcr), Ephebe lanata, Hymenelia lacustris, Lecidea lactea, Pilophorus strumaticus, Porpidia contrapoenda (nvcr), P. crustulata and P. tuberculosa. This is a very distinct assemblage with Cladonia bellidiflora, Micarea leprosula and Pycnothelia papillaria as terricolous associates, and is probably restricted to oceanic mountain summits in Ireland, as suggested by Gilbert & Fryday, 1996 Lichenologist 28 113-127. Prominent blocks on the west slope have a more traditional siliceous rock flora with Fuscidea cyathoides, Pertusaria corallina, Rhizocarpon geographicum, Sclerococcum sphaerale, and on some blocks Toninia thiopsora and Miriquidica complanata (nvcr) were seen indicating that the upland element may be more diverse.
On Friday 1 May 1998, we went possing about in rowing boats on Lough Corrib on the North side of the Dooras Peninsula, M0850 & M0851. There are lots of little islands, some being a small rock less than 10m across and others decapitated drumlins covered in young woodland with shoals of small cobbles by the shore. The composition of the flora is the fairly normal Lecanoretum subfuscae association with some Parmelietum perlatae, and a relict Lobarion element from old oak trees. One of the characteristics of this part of Ireland is the constancy of Lecanora jamesii, Fuscidea lightfootii, Caloplaca ferruginea and Japewia carrollii with Lecidella elaeochroma, Arthonia radiata, Lecanora chlarotera and various other crusts on the fine branches. Evernia prunastri, Normandina pulchella, Parmelia exasperata, P. perlata, P. revoluta, P. saxatilis, P. sulcata, P. subaurifera, P. subrudecta, Physcia aipolia, P. tenella, Ramalina calicaris, R. farinacea, Usnea subfloridana and Xanthoria parietina are the main epiphytic macrolichens on slightly larger branches. Physconia distorta, Ramalina fraxinea appear to be later colonists, joining the flora of larger trees. On the lakeshore bird perch rocks, Candelariella vitellina, Caloplaca crenularia, Lecanora albescens, L. campestris infested with Muellerella pygmaea v. athallina (nvcr), L. dispersa, L. muralis, Ochrolechia parella, Physcia caesia, P. tenella, Ramalina cuspidata and Xanthoria parietina are regulars on large blocks. After making lists for several islands, we rowed ashore.
Saturday was another undemanding nice day which we spent at Rosshill M1057 on the shores of Lough Mask. After taking the wrong path, we finally arrived at the intended spot with Solorina spongiosa, S. saccata, Collema undulata f. granulosa (nvcr), Peltigera rufescens and Karsteniomyces peltigerae (new to Ireland). The remarkable karst ‘Lough Mask holes’ were demonstrated by Dr Mike Simms who explained their formation. Limestone outcrops next to the calcareous lakeshore fens with Hymenelia prevostii (nvcr), Collema polycarpon and so on were very interesting. Rounded siliceous boulders, glacial dropstones forming depressions in the karst pavement, provided a totally distinct niche for Hymenelia lacustris, Micarea erratica, Ochrolechia parella and Rhizocarpon lavatum.
On Sunday morning 3 May on the advice of Marianne Whilde, the party remaining decided to visit a top quality dry karst site, E of Oughterard in the townlands of Corranellistrum (M1940) and Kylemore, not to be confused with Larbalestier’s home turf in the 1870s at Kylemore, Letterfrack. This site supported a range of calcicolous crusts such as Petractis clausa, Thelidium incavatum, Verrucaria dufourii, V. pinguicula, V. caerulea, Acrocordia conoidea, V. nigrescens, V. glaucina, V. hochstetteri, V. parmigerella, Staurothele rupifraga, Polyblastia deminuta, Placynthium nigrum, the much overlooked lichenicolous Caloplaca cf. polycarpa on Verrucaria baldensis, Aspicilia calcarea, Farnoldia jurana, Clauzadea immersa, Cl. metzleri, Lecania cuprea, Caloplaca flavescens, Dermatocarpon miniatum, Gyalecta jenensis, Cladonia pocillum, Cl. rangiformis, Toninia aromatica and so on. The party dispersed in mid-afternoon.
Before the meeting, I visited the folded metamorphic limestone at Knocknagur L9253 and found Placidiopsis cartilaginea (nvcr). After the meeting, one other site of particular interest was visited in Connemara, H16, at Shanvallycahill, M0462, Toormakeady, now in Co. Mayo. A site with a subfossil forest of pine stumps supported an interesting lichen flora with Cetraria aculeata, Hypogymnia physodes, H. tubulosa, Parmelia caperata, P. saxatilis, P. sulcata, Platismatia glauca, with Hypocenomyce scalaris (nvcr), Mycoblastus sanguinarius, Lichenoconium erodens, Tremella hypogymniae (nvcr) and Pronectria anisospora (nvcr).
After getting our bearings on the first day, we concentrated on recording in specific lichen habitats in all the sites. The richest oceanic wood in Connaught, Derryclare wood National Nature Reserve fulfilled expectations with 150+ spp, from where we added 10 species to the vice-county list. The Kylemore – Corranellistrim limestone pavement, 8km ESE of Oughterard, is a superb area which supports the typical Burren limestone lichen flora (McCarthy & Mitchell 1988). The highlight of the meeting for most participants was the superb coastal heathland on Gorumna, Lettermullan & Crappagh, with South Connemara Group amphibolite rocks yielding some 200-250 spp. without undue effort. This area has a relatively low rainfall for western Ireland (c. 1000 mm p.a.) and seems to be somewhat warmer than the rest of Connemara. The southern element is undoubtedly better developed than we recorded and several crustose lichens more familiar on coastlines of SW England should turn up in due course.
Overall the Connemara meeting was a relaxed and useful tour. Participants saw over half the 700 lichens and lichenicolous fungi now known in the region. More than 30 vice-county additions were made during the fieldtrip and on preparatory and followup daytrips. We all left with a much better understanding of the composition of lichen habitats in the Connemara landscape.

Howard Fox, 10 x 1998.

Reprinted from the Bulletin of the British Lichen Society 83: 30-36 (1998).

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