During the summer of 2014 our ecologists were busy undertaking heathland and bog surveys, to assess the long-term impact of air pollution on vegetation. All species (both higher and lower plants) were identified in a 2 m x 2m quadrat. The data was recorded directly onto ruggedised tablet PC’s, saving data entry time back in the office.
Since all of the sites subject to survey were internationally designated for reasons of nature conservation interest, some very interesting plants were encountered. For example round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia), which has sticky gland hairs which allows it to trap insects. It then secretes juices so it can digest the protein from within the trapped insect.
Many of the sites also supported rare fauna, such as adder (Vipera berus) which was spotted at one of the Welsh sites. Adders are characterised by the zigzag pattern running down the lengths of their body. The photograph shows a female snake which are usually pale brown to gingery-red, whilst males tend to be lighter in colouration.
Many of the bog sites proved problematic to survey since swarms of horseflies were often present, meaning head nets had to been worn continuously.
However, despite the occasional discomfort associated with some of the bog sites (such as the swarms of horseflies) I think that all would agree, these were interesting surveys and that all would like to repeat them again this year.