Desmids galore

An amazing 1200 species and varieties have been found in the British Isles. World-wide some 8000 species have been described. Most seem to prefer nutrient poor, acidic waters, the most prolific collecting sites in the British Isles are the Sphagnum bogs and peat pools of Scotland, Wales, & Ireland. David Bellamy (1) refers to 'sheets' of desmids occurring in the peaty pools Thursley Common, Surrey. Another good reason for not extracting the peat and destroying these valuable habitats.

Some do occur in other parts of the British Isles, sometimes in large numbers but fewer species, including my home County, Kent. Indeed some of the earliest British records (150 years ago) are from near Tunbridge Wells. I have found fifteen species in Hothfield bogs, a dozen in a spring at Louisa Lake in Bedgebury Park, and even in temporary water in a plough furrow at Staplehurst I have collected a few species. Some I have found in garden ponds in Maidstone, probably introduced with fish or aquatic plants, or maybe brought on the feet of visiting birds. In one case exceptionally large numbers of individuals of a single species turned the pond water green (2). Any freshwater, damp moss &c., may hold a few desmid treasures, the desmid hunter should always be on the alert for possible sites and always have some collecting bottles or plastic lunch bags and closures in his pocket. Web Site Design Company
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