Record-breaking Benmore BioBlitz unearths rare ferns and slime moulds

A total of 707 wild species were found over a 48-hour period by 20 recorders during a 'BioBlitz' at Benmore Botanic Garden, near Dunoon.

The 'dog vomit' slime mould (Fuligo septica) or flowers or tan are easy to spot
The 'dog vomit' slime mould (Fuligo septica) or flowers or tan are easy to spot

The largest single group was flowering plants with 185 species, but bryophytes (mosses and their allies) came a close second with 172 species. Fungi came third with 122 species, moths fourth with 68 and birds fifth with 32 species recorded.

The Benmore BioBlitz beat anything recorded at the other Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) sites, where previous BioBlitz events found 556 species at Edinburgh; 561 at Dawyck and 360 at Logan.

RBGE's science communicator, Dr Max Coleman, said: "Everyone can contribute to a BioBlitz so these events are ideal for beginners to wildlife recording and even the most unpromising looking patch of ground has all sorts of interesting wildlife just waiting to be discovered.

"At Benmore 288 species were identified and recorded during the 48 hours, but many specimens were collected that needed microscopic examination to determine their identity and that took time. The moth count was a fantastic achievement considering the weather conditions. Seven traps were set out on both nights.''

Rare and unusual species were discovered, such as the bright yellow flowers of tan, which are also known as dog vomit slime mould and scrambled egg slime. These strange organisms were previously grouped in with fungi, but are today regarded as a separate group called slime moulds (Fuligo septica).

Coleman added: "The rare Tunbridge filmy fern (Hymenophyllum tunbrigense) was located near the Golden Gates. This tiny fern with a frond that is only a single cell thick is restricted to humid sites and is a speciality of the Celtic rainforest that survives in the area around Benmore in fragments of native coastal woodland.

"Sticking with ferns, some natural regeneration of a tree fern in the genus Dicksonia was noted. In contrast to the filmy fern this group of ferns includes some giants that can reach several metres. Presumably these plants are the result of spores that have escaped from the Benmore Fernery. Only time will tell what species they are and whether they can withstand the Benmore climate."

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