Benmore BioBlitz is a record breake

A BioBlitz at Benmore Botanic Garden, near Dunoon, proved to be a record breaker when a staggering 707 wild species were found over a 48 hour period.

Wet weather kept the number of flying insects down, but the 20 expert recorders still managed an incredible feat. 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 Gardens of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE). The results of earlier BioBlitz events at the other three Gardens were Edinburgh, 556 species; Dawyck, 561 species, and Logan, 360 species.

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.’’

Dr Coleman explained that some rare species had been identified. He explained: “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”.

“Among the oddities the prize has to go to the flowers of tan. This curious bright yellow mass is a slime mould (Fuligo septica). The name comes from its frequent appearance in tan bark bits used in tanning hides. Previously these strange organisms were grouped in with the fungi, but are today regarded as a separate group called slime moulds. Also known as dog vomit slime mould and scrambled egg slime, for obvious reasons, this truly odd organism is nonetheless very easy to spot. Keep an eye out for it at Benmore.’’

ENDS

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)