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Plant Research

Rare & threatened fern and fern allies conservation and monitoring

The Rare and threatened fern and fern allied species in Ireland under investigation include Killarney Fern (Trichomanes speciosum), Clubmosses (Lycopodiaceae species) and Moore’s Horsetail (Equisetum x moorei). This is collaborative project between NPWS Scientific Unit, Trinity College Dublin Botany Department and the National Botanic Gardens Glasnevin.

The three main aims of the project are:

  • To develop practical monitoring guidelines for reporting on these species to the EU under Article 17 of the Habitats Directive.
  • To develop methods for best conserving these species in the wild and in long-term storage (ex situ) as backup collections.
  • To determine the genetic makeup of populations of the Annex I species Killarney Fern (Trichomanes speciosum) using a DNA fingerprinting technique.

Photo: Killarney Fern (Naomi Kingston)

Killarney Fern

Rare & threatened bryophyte conservation and monitoring

The rare and threatened bryophyte species in Ireland under investigation include both mosses and liverworts in three of our legally protected habitats: old metal rich sites (Calaminarian grasslands), fens and sand dunes & slacks. The moss species under investigation include Cinclidium stygium, Ditrichium cornubicum, Hametocaulis vernicosus and Paludella squarrosa. The liverwort species include Petalophyllum ralfsii, Cephaloziella nicholosonii, Cepaloziella massalongi, Leiocolea gillmanii and Leiocolea rutheana var. rutheana. This is a collaborative project between NPWS Research, Trinity College Dublin Botany Department and the National Botanic Gardens Glasnevin.

The three main aims of the project are:

  • To develop practical monitoring guidelines for reporting on these species to the EU under Article 17 of the Habitats Directive.
  • To develop methods for best conserving these species in the wild and in long-term storage (ex situ) as backup collections.
  • To determine the genetic identity and makeup of populations of Ditrichum cornubicum, Hametocaulis vernicosus, Paludella squarrosa, Petalophyllum ralfsii, Cephaoziella nicholsonii & Cephaloziella massalongi using a DNA fingerprinting technique.

 

 Marsh Saxifrage

Marsh Saxifrage (Saxifraga hirculus) (Photo: Neil Lockhart)

 

Although once widely distributed across Europe the Marsh Saxifrage (Saxifraga hirculus) is now declining and under threat. In Ireland, it is currently only found in County Mayo with seven sites documented. The plant appears to be restricted to mineral flushes in what is otherwise ombrotrophic blanket bog. A research project in Trinity College Dublin is examining the ecology, population demography, reproductive biology and genetic variation within and among Irish populations, providing baseline information on the current status and requirements of this species in Ireland.

LichenIreland

  • The LichenIreland project, in conjunction with CEDaR and the Environment and Heritage Service Northern Ireland, was initiated in 2005. This project aims to increase awareness of the species group, as well as improve understanding of the distribution and ecology of the Lichen flora in Ireland.

Members of the Scienific Unit can be contacted by e-mailing: nature.conservation@ahg.gov.ie