Welcome to my blog

This is where I post various musings about wildlife and ecology, observations of interesting species (often invertebrates)
and bits of research that grab my attention. As well as blogging, I undertake professional ecological & wildlife surveys
covering invertebrates, plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians and some mammals, plus habitat assessment and management
. I don't work on planning applications/for developers. The pages on the right will tell you more about my work,
main interests and key projects, and you can follow my academic work here.

Friday 29 June 2012

Lovely little loofahs

As I have a static page devoted to dead wood monitoring at habitat/woodland scale, the organisms associated with dead wood do appear on my blog from time to time. On this occasion, I'd been tidying up the 'wrecking yard' at the far end of our garden where I cut firewood and so on. Because of this, unwanted offcuts that are too decayed to be useful have been piled up to form habitat for saproxylic (dead wood) species. Often these may be small invertebrates such as beetles and barklice, but of course, Fungi are also important in the decay process, as are myxomycetes (slime moulds) which, although often included as 'honorary Fungi', are actually Protozoa. As a group, 'myxos' are widespread - everywhere which some suitable substrate, though they often remain unseen as their fruiting bodies are often very short-lived. So, I was interested to see some clusters of small loofah-shaped growths on small rotting logs.

The myxomycete Arcyria obvelata - approx 1cm tall
Having a copy of Ing (1999) made identification pretty straightforward - Arcyria obvelata is a common species on dead wood, especially beech, sometimes oak, and occasionally (as here) on conifers. It is typified by the short stalk leading to a funnel-shaped cup upon which there is the tall, pale yellow sporangium of tangled tubes bearing minute spores, the whole being up to 15mm tall. When newly grown, the sporangium is a short, smooth cylinder, but when mature it expands as seen here with the longer ones drooping.

Apparently there are some colour variations, but these have not yet been found in Britain - maybe something to look out for!

A larger clump of Arcyria obvelata


Ing, B. (1999). The Myxomycetes of Britain and Ireland: An Identification Handbook. Richmond, Slough.

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