Stubbs Wood & Frame Wood, New Forest, Monday, 30th December 2013

The WLG’s New Year meeting was held at Frame Wood in the New Forest, with the main aim of searching for Lobaria species as part of the BLS Lobarion project. We were scheduled to met at the Rans Wood car park, Furzey Lodge at SU3665 0252, at 10.30, with Neil Sanderson leading. The meeting was nearly cancel due to the awful weather the night before, but this was forecast to end at about 10.30am, so I went a head. Sadly the Isle of Wight contingent could not get off the Island and some from Dorset decided not to brave the weather. In spite of the unpromising start in high wind and heavy rain John Norton, Phil Budd, Ginny Copsey and Mark Jackson made it from Hampshire and Mathew Prince and Nichola Bacciu had come all the way from Devon.

The rain was still coming down after 10.30 but we set off in the hope it would stop. As the wet got on to the screen of my water proof iPhone case the touch screen stopped working properly with the result:


Time to move on to water proof paper! As a result I did not record systematically at first.

1km Grid Square SU3602
On an big old Oak by Rans Wood car park I refound some fertile Lecanora barkmaniana Nb (NS) seen previously, along with Lecanographa lyncea Nb (IR) parasitised by Milospium graphideorum on the dry side. Then we walked north towards Stubbs and Frame Woods in rain and wind. At FW01 (SU36597 02607), an isolated Pedunclate Oak had some large patches of Pertusaria flavida, along with fertile Flavoparmelia caperata, Hypogymnia tubulosa and Abrothallus microspermus on Parmotrema perlatum plus lots of other species not recorded in rain.

Below was grassy wet heath (M16b) but with some Cladonia species on hummocks with Cladonia furcata subsp. furcata, Cladonia portentosa, Cladonia ciliata var. tenuis and Cladonia ciliata var. tenuis.

Down by the stream we entered the ancient woodland (SU336028), in an area with some interesting Oaks with acid bark. Species noted included Lecanora alboflavida Nb (NS) on Oak, a standing dead Oak with Chaenotheca brunneola and Chrysothrix flavovirens on lignum. East of this on acidic Oak bark were Arthonia leucopellaea Nb (NS) (a rather special species, with few lowland sites), Anisomeridium ranunculosporum, Loxospora elatina, Thelotrema lepadinum, Usnea ceratina and Usnea cornuta.

Across the glade (Waymark FW02, SU 36593 02895) was rich Pedunclate Oak on the glade edge, which I knew well, having been shown it originally by Francis Rose. The tree is apparently also well known for the rare bracket fungus Phelinus roboris Nb (IR), which was pointed out. The Caloplaca ferruginea, which I have seen on the trunk in previous years could not be found in the wet but the lichens Rinodina roboris var. roboris, Pertusaria hemisphaerica and Pertusaria amara f. pulvinata, were recorded.

Moving up the wide drift way (a largely animal maintained irregular open track through the woods, what would be called a game trail in America) leading north from the glade was a small stunted Beech (Waymark FW03, SU36610 02922) with a high lichen cover and rich looking flora from which a couple of Lecanora collections were made and Mycoporum antecellens noted. The sparsely lichen colonised faster growing Beech adjacent was a good illustration of how different Beech is from Oak as a lichen substrate; Beech needs to be slow growing, either old or suppressed to accumulate rich assemblages. The Lecanora collections were were of an extensive lichen, covering large areas of the tree but with poorly developed apothecia which were immersed in the thallus the whole thing looking ironed down The second was a more normal looking Lecanora, with darker disks. The latter was just a darker than normal Lecanora chlarotera with thinner margins than normal, the former too immature to tell. Beyond this Calicium salicinum was found on Oak bark.

Drift ways are ancient features within the unclosed woodlands (the Ancient and Ornamental Woods), which support a high lichen diversity; they have well lit but sheltered old trees along their edges. They are also permanent enough to allow ancient Oaks to survive longer against competition from shorter lived but taller Beech trees that in less disturbed parts of the open woodlands

Rich and poorly colonised Beeches

1km Grid Square SU3603
The rain was easing off by now. Further up the drift way we crossed into grid square SU3603, and I looked for a known Lobaria pulmonaria tree. I located this (Waymark FW04, SU 36565 03095) but sadly it had recently fallen. The Lobaria pulmonaria Nb (IR) on the tree had been growing strongly but searching around there was no sign of colonisation on any nearby trees. This is typical of New Forest Lobaria sites; the Lobaria is growing strongly enough but does not appear to be able to colonise new trees. We also recorded Sphinctrina turbinata parasitising Pertusaria hymenea on this Beech. A nearby Beech root had a slim Pixie Cup, which in the past I would have been tempted to call Cladonia fimbriata, but the soredia appeared quite course, so I checked it with a KC spot test and got a red-purple reaction; it was Cladonia cryptochlorophaea. I have recorded what appeared to be this Cladonia grayi segregate on dead wood before but this was the first time I had noted it on bark.

The fallen Lobaria pulmonaria Beech

The rain had stopped and my hands were dry enough to record notes using the iPhone again:

Usnea ceratina on Beech and Holly

On Beech twigs:
Xanthoria parietina
Parmelia sulcata
Punctelia subrudecta
s. str.
Parmelia saxatilis
Flavoparmelia caperata
Pertusaria amara f. amara
Evernia prunastri

On Beech trunks:
Parmotrema perlatum
Parmotrema reticulatum
Pertusaria amara f. pulvinata
Nb (NR)
Pertusaria pertusa
Pertusaria hymenea
Schismatomma niveum
Nb (IR)
Enterographa crassa
Pertusaria hemisphaerica

Fallen Oak dead wood:
Cladonia parasitica
Cladonia digitata
Trapeliopsis flexuosa
Thelotrema lepadinum
Normandina pulchella
Phlyctis argena
Mycoporum antecellens

A short way further up the drift way an old Beech produced a well developed thallus of the Vulnerable Pertusaria velata VU (NS/IR/S41), a species with a strong population in the New Forest (Waymark FW05, SU36545 03136).

Old Oak added:
Opegrapha corticola Nb (IR)
Cresponea premnea
Nb (IR)
Lecanactis abietina
Thelopsis rubella

We then had lunch, with a fallen Oak providing a suitable bench. Some rather difficult to see Horn of Plenty fungi were spotted in the leaf litter in front of the log.

Horn of Plenty

Around the lunch site, there was lichen interest on Oak including the Near Threatened Arthonia invadens NT (NR/IR/S41) at SU3644 0321 parasitising Schismatomma quercicola Nb (IR), with the latter also seen on Beech. A earth on a root plate of a fallen tree added Psilolechia lucida, with Anisomeridium ranunculosporum, Loxospora elatina and Cladonia coniocraea on acid Oak. Base rich Oak bark produced some significant records with Porina rosei NT (NS/IR), Agonimia octospora NT (NS/IR), Pachyphiale carneola and Porina hibernica NT (NS/IR/S41) seen.

On fallen Beech branches:
Platismatia glauca
Ramalina farinacea
Punctelia jeckeri
Usnea cornuta
Hypotrachyna afrorevoluta

Moving on, further new records on Beech were Graphis elegans and the parasitic fungi Skyttea nitschkei on Thelotrema lepadinum and on Oak dry bark, Schismatomma cretaceum. I was heading north west, aiming for a known rich area with Lobaria virens Nb (IR). In the process I got disorientated and a bit lost, but with the result that I found an interesting shaded standing dead Oak (Waypoint FW06, SU36352 03306) with the rare dead wood fungi Xerotrema quercicola NT (NR/IR), new to the wood, along with Cladonia polydactyla var. polydactyla.

Back on track we came out on a second drift way running east – west on the edge of Frame Wood, at a wide open area with frequent old Oaks with base rich bark, which was a favourite site for Francis Rose. This has strong populations of species such as Agonimia octospora NT (NS/IR) and Porina hibernica NT (NS/IR/S41), which we refound. New species for the day recorded here included Mycobilimbia pilularis and Mycobilimbia epixanthoides at Waymark FW07 (SU36071 03278) and Ramonia chrysophaea NT (NS/IR/S41) nearby on Oak.

Also noted on Oak here:
Schismatomma decolorans
Cladonia pyxidata
Arthonia vinosa
Anisomeridium polypori
Acrocordia gemmata
Bacidia viridifarinosa
Dimerella lutea

On Holly:
Stenocybe septata

The east – west drift

1km Grid Square SU3503
Turning north west off the drift way and into a new 1km grid square (SU3503) I searched for a known Lobaria virens NB (IR) tree. On the way Mathew and Nichola found a delicate little mushroom on moss on an old Oak trunk, which was identified as Hydropus floccipes, a local species with many New Forest records. They also recorded the rarer Chromocyphella muscicola on mosses on fallen wood. At Waymark FW08 (SU35925 03364) I refound the Lobaria virens colony, on one of a group of three rich Sessile Oaks. The largest patch of Lobaria virens higher up had regressed but was now regrowing. The patch on the base of the tree, however, was very healthy. Very encouragingly a tiny thallus of Lobaria veins was found on an adjacent Oak; this looked like colonisation, which I have rarely seen in the New Forest. Perhaps an early indication of recovery from past depression of colonisation by low level acidification? Also found on an Oak just to the north of the Lobaria tree was a small amount of Wadeana dendrographa NT (NS/IR/S41). This rare south western species is almost exclusively found on Ash trees, so is threatened by Ash dieback, but has a few records from Oak, including one from the New Forest. It was good to find an extant population on Oak given the threat to Ash trees.

Other species recorded from Oak here were
Bacidia rubella
Calicium glaucellum
Acrocordia gemmata
Porina hibernica
NT (NS/IR/S41).
Porina rosei NT (NS/IR/S41).
Porina coralloidea NB (NS)

The Lobaria virens colony & the mushroom Hydropus floccipes

We then turned back intending to head back to the start by a more westerly route. Crossing the east – west draft way to the west of where we were earlier at (FW09, SU35970 03286), I found a big sheet of what looked like Opegrapha corticola, with a thick grey-brown thallus and pale ochraceous patches of sorelia. Examining it, however, there were also frequent Thelopsis perithecia, apparently in the same thallus and some close to patches of sorelia. Opegrapha corticola and Thelopsis rubella do often grow together but here there was no obvious separation between the areas of thalli with soredia and those with perithecia. This was exciting, as it has been suggested that the always sterile Opegrapha corticola, might actually be a Thelopsis, so I collected a bit. Back in the office the next day, I had a look at the specimen and the perithecia definitely did appear to belong to the sorediate thallus, they were generally like Thelopsis rubella externally but when dry proved to be sunk into the thallus a bit more than is typical of Thelopsis rubella. Internally the perithecia were typical of Thelopsis, with over 100 spores in the asci, and the spores were 3 septate as in Thelopsis rubella. The spores, however, were much smaller than typical Thelopsis rubella: (8–) 9 – 11 (–12) x 3 – 4 (–5)µm (means 10.1 x 3.9µm) (measurements as min. and max. in brackets with main range as mean ± 1 standard deviation, from 20 spores from one perithecia). The equivalent measurements from Thelopsis rubella in the LGBI being (10–) 12 –16 (–18) x 4 – 8µm. This strongly suggests that Opegrapha corticola is actually a normally sterile Thelopsis and that it is a separate taxa from Thelopsis rubella. Fortunately is seems from Index Fungorum that the name Thelopsis corticola is free so, if correct, the name change should be painless.

Potentially fertile Opegrapha corticola specimen

1km Grid Square SU3603
We headed back into 1km grid square SU3603, adding Arthonia leucopellaea Nb (NS) and Cliostomum flavidulum Nb (NS) to the square list from acidic Oaks and then went down the unclosed woodland on the eastern edge of Hawkshill Inclosure, where a Raven flew over us.

Additional species on Oak:
Phaeographis dendritica

Additional species on Beech:
Melanelixia glabratula
Catinaria atropurpurea
Strigula taylorii
Nb (NS/IR)
Arthonia spadicea
Opegrapha vulgata
Porina aenea
Lecanora chlarotera

1km Grid Square SU3602
Back at the first big glade we added Chrysothrix candelaris on Oak and Peltigera hymenina on the ground and then headed back to the car park.

In spite of the unpromising wet start to the day, we managed to record 93 lichens and related fungi taxa (see Species List & BLS Import Sheet). Of the taxa recorded from the woods, five were new to the NF28A Frame & Stubbs Wood recording unit. The list scores 28 on the NIEC index (southern oceanic ancient woodland indicators), with 8 RDB species, one Vulnerable species and seven Near Threatened species (five of these Section 41 species (AKA BAP species)) and 18 Notable species. We also recorded three Nationally Rare, 16 Nationally Scarce and 20 international Responsibility species.

The most important find of the day was the possible answer to the question, what is Opegrapha corticola? The answer, it seems, is that it is a Thelopsis. The Lobaria species recorded confirmed the general pattern in the New Forest, the mature thalli of the surviving Lobaria species appear healthy but there is limited evidence of colonisation and most losses appear to be though tree death. This indicates a failure to colonise new tree over the last decades (see other WLG meetings which recorded for the Lobarion Project 30 December 2011 Woosons Hill & 28 December 2012 Ocknell Sling). This was presumably the result of low level acidification from air pollution. With reducing pollution levels, it is to be hopped that the Lobaria species will restart colonisation; we may have found evidence of this during this survey.

For the species lists for the 1km squares visited and the whole day list see the Species List. The raw species data is contained in a BLS Database import spreadsheet, which can be downloaded here BLS Import Sheet. To see the route taken click on the text below.