Monday 7 September 2015

Flat-sedge: on a Cumbrian road-verge and in New Journal of Botany

Simon Smart shares the third and final instalment in his tale of the thirteen-year gestation of this paper in the forthcoming issue of New Journal of Botany. Part One is here and Part Two is here.

Simon is out of the woods:
he has the TPP data he needed!
Selfie by S. Smart
We left Simon smiling again, having found that the data collected by BSBI members for the Threatened Plants Project (TPP) was just what he needed: you can read more about the TPP here and find out why it fitted the bill so well! 

Simon takes up the story: 

"Another of the species we analyse in the paper is the similarly divine Blysmus compressus". [LM: Click on the link to see a Species Account for this TPP target plant, prepared by Dr Kevin Walker.] 

"In the paper, we use the occurrence of B. compressus on a road verge between Orton and Appleby in Cumbria (pictured here and in the paper) as a test of how you might apply the probabilities for each neighbour species to a new population. 

"In fact, this population was discovered by me in 1996 during repeat survey of a series of fixed plots, set up by the then Institute for Terrestrial Ecology (now the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology) to monitor the success of Cumbria's conservation-oriented Road Verge Management Strategy. 

"The population seemed to be growing, unusually, in a refuge on a linear feature rather than in adjacent improved grassland. I am due to visit the site again this summer when re-recording of the quadrat will allow a test of how the method can be used to measure change in neighbour probabilities over time and thus evaluate prospects for the continued persistence of B.compressus

Road verge with population of B. compressus
Image: S. Smart
"Revisiting the site will be very convenient since, bizarrely, my mum has just moved to Great Asby only 3 miles to the south (not because she likes Blysmus, I must add, but because she didn’t like Swindon!)

"So, after ten years we were finally able to realise our goal and it's largely thanks to the Threatened Plants Project! 

The ideas were also tested on very receptive audiences at the BSBI's Annual Exhibition Meeting in London in 2011 and again at the BSBI/RBGE Mapping Conference held in Edinburgh in 2012.[LM: This is where Simon and I first discussed the possibility of publishing his results so far in New Journal of Botany, a mere three years ago!] 

"Finally, we ran our ideas past delegates at the Vice-County Recorders Conference in Shrewsbury earlier this year. Hence on behalf of all my co-authors we extend our thanks for the invitations to speak and especially to Louise Marsh and Alex Lockton". 

Many thanks to Simon for sharing the story behind this paper and for his kind words!

Spot 2 of Simon's co-authors trailling survey methods
for the National Plant Monitoring Scheme:
Kevin Walker on right
Oli Pescott in blue hat
Image: M. Pocock 
So, after thirteen years of work, 'Common plants as indicators of habitat suitability for rare plants; quantifying the strength of the association between threatened plants and their neighbours' by S. M. Smart, S. Jarvis, K. J. Walker, P. A. Henrys, O. L. Pescott and R. H. Marrs, is published in New Journal of Botany

BSBI members can view the paper on-line at the weekend, with print copies to follow, and any member who filled in a Threatened Plants Project form a few years ago can feel justly proud of the data they contributed and how it was used.

If you're not yet a BSBI member, I'm afraid you can't read this or six other papers and four book reviews in the forthcoming issue of New Journal of Botany, or any of our back-issues since 2011, or benefit from our panel of 100+ expert plant referees, or claim amazing discounts on selected botany books... 

Although we offer loads of free ID aids and other resources to non-members, you really should think about joining us if you want the full BSBI membership experience. But don't join today! Wait until 1st October and we'll give you three free months, so your one year's membership subscription will carry you all the way through to the end of 2016. That's £2 a month to be a full member of the amazing BSBI community!  

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