Taxonomy

Sphagnum austinii | Austin's Bog-moss

Distribution

Status

Conservation status

HABITATS DIRECTIVE ARTICLE 17 REPORTING*
RangeN/A
PopulationN/A
HabitatN/A
Future ProspectsN/A
Overall  Assessment of Conservation StatusInadequate
Overall Trend in Conservation StatusStable
*All E.U. Sphagnum species  are identified as requiring assessment under the Habitats Directive. Guidelines on reporting for the Habitats Directive indicate that these species are required to be reported on as a group, unless a member state is of the opinion that individual species within the group may require special attention. In the Article 17 Habitats Directive reporting for the period 2007-2012 none of the named Sphagnum species of the Habitats Directive occurring in Ireland were identified as requiring special attention.

The Conservation Status in the table above is then for the Sphagnum genus in Ireland rather than for the individual species.

Source: NPWS 2013; European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity.


IUCN Conservation Status
Ireland (1)Least Concern
Europe (2)Not evaluated
Global (2)Not evaluated

Sources: (1) Lockhart, N., Hodgetts, N. & Holyoak, D. 2012; (2) The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2.


Legal status

Protected by the following legal instruments:

  • Habitats Directive [92/42/EEC] Annex V

Native status

Native.

Species Biology

Identification

All members of the Sphagnum genus are distinguished from other moss species by the combination of the following characteristics;

  • The absence of rhizoids in the gametophyte, and the presence of groups of spreading and / or pendent branches (these groups referred to as fascicles) arranged at intervals along the main stem.
  • As well as chlorophyllose cells (chlorocysts) Sphagnum leaves have adapted large dead cells, 'hyaline' cells, that allow Sphagnum species plants to retain water in relatively large amounts.
  • The sporangium lacks the peristome seen in many other moss genera.
  • Rather than the seta (stalk) seen in other mosses, in Sphagnum species the spore bearing capsule is borne on a pseudopodium.
  • The top end of the plant, where new fascicles are formed, contain many young compact fascicles which give Sphagnum species a distintive 'mop-head' look. This terminal head is termed a capitulum.
  • .The lack of a leaf mid-rib or 'costa'.

Sphangnum austinii is one of a group of Sphagnum species (Section sphagnum) in which the stem has a wide outer cortex to inner pith ratio (outer cortex occupies about 1/3 or more of the diameter).

  • Section Sphagnum species plants, in well-lit, good growing conditions will measure over 2.5cm in diameter, including fascicles.
  • The branch leaves in Section Sphagnum are noticably concave with blunt, hooded apices.

  • Branch leaves are most often over 1mm wide.

  • The stem leaves are rather tongue shaped.
Within this group Sphagnum austinii never has red or pink colouration in leaves. It is generally ochre or light brown, the centre of the capitulum is, as often as not, green.

  • Shoots to 15cm long
  • Extraction and examination of the spreading branches on this species can be difficult in the field due to the copact hummocks formed by this species. The branches are relatively short with pointed ends. One pendent branch per fascicle, two spreading branches.
  • The habit of this species, to form very compact almost solid hummocks in bogs, is what makes it difficult to distinguish the stem leaves or fascicles in the field, but this habit itself acts as a pointer to the species.
  • Capsules are rare.
Sources: Atherton, I., Bosanquet, S., Lawley, M.,  2010; Lockhart, N., Hodgetts, N. & Holyoak, D. 2012a; Smith, A.J.E. 2004.

Habitat

Habitats may include but are not necessarily limited to;

  • Raised bog (PB1)
  • Upland blanket bog (PB2)
  • Lowland blanket bog (PB3)
Sources: Atherton, I., Bosanquet, S., Lawley, M.,  2010; Fossitt, J.A. 2001.

Reproduction

Classic alternation of generations with diploid sporophyte and haploid gametophyte generations. In mosses the haploid gametophyte is the longer lived and obvious plant seen in the field.

The sporophyte is the capsule which is borne on a pseudopodium produced from tissue of the gametophyte.

Fertilization of female gametes by male gametes produces the diploid sporophyte. Meiosis of spore mother cells produce haploid spores, which are disseminated when the capsule opens. Spores germinate into a filamentous 'protonema' which will eventually produce the familiar moss gametophyte.

Sources: Porley, R. Hodgetts N. 2005.

Sphagnum species can also spread vegetatively through the development of new stems from branches and may also spread via plant fragments.

Threats faced

In the Article 17 Habitats Directive reporting for the period 2007-2012 no current threats were listed for this species. In that reporting period the named Sphagnum species of the Habitats Directive occurring in Ireland were given an 'Overall Assessment of Conservation Status' of 'Inadequate' due to;

  • 'The poor conservation status of the peatland habitats within which the majority of Sphagnum species occur'.
Source: NPWS 2013.

Conservation actions

In the Article 17 Habitats Directive reporting for the period 2007-2012 no Conservation Measures in place or in the process of being implemented during the period were listed for this species.

Source: NPWS 2013.

Distribution

World distribution(GBIF)

Boreo-temperate. European records are concentrated in Norway, Sweden, Britain, Ireland and Denmark. There are also records from the north-east and north-west coasts of North America.

Accuracy of world distribution shown in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) map below will be constrained by, amongst other factors, data held but not shared by countries and organizations not participating in the GBIF.

Irish distribution

Most records are from the mid-lands, with some from south, north and mid-west and north-west. Currently no records south east of a line from Arklow to Kenmare.



Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2020

The following map is interactive. If you would prefer to view it full screen then click here.

How can you help

The National Biodiversity Data Centre is trying to improve our knowledge of the distribution of Sphagnum austinii in Ireland. Should you observe this species, please submit sightings to add to the database. Detailed observations will assist us gaining a better insight into where the species is most abundant in Ireland and we might also be able to detect regional variations. Please submit any sightings and photographs at:

http://records.biodiversityireland.ie/

All records submitted online can be viewed on Google Maps – once checked and validated these will be added to the database and made available for conservation and research.

Further information

For further information contact Dr. Liam Lysaght llysaght@biodiversityireland.ie

References

Publications

Atherton, I., Bosanquet, S., Lawley, M.,  2010. Mosses and Liverworts of Britain and Ireland a field guide. British Bryological Society.

Fossitt, J.A. 2001 A Guide to Habitats in Ireland. The Heritage Council.

Lockhart, N., Hodgetts, N. & Holyoak, D. 2012. Ireland Red List No.8: Bryophytes. National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Dublin, Ireland.

Lockhart, N., Hodgetts, N. & Holyoak, D. (2012a) Rare and Threatened Bryophytes of Ireland. National Museums of Northern Ireland.

Porley, R. and Hodgetts N. 2005 Mosses & Liverworts, Collins.

Smith, A.J.E. 2004. The Moss Flora of Britain. Cambridge University Press.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 13 November 2014.