Ferns on Moor of Rannoch - 1995

Ferns on Moor of Rannoch - 2005

Climatic effects on snowbed fern species

This is a site on a north-facing hill near the Moor of Rannoch where the snow used to lie from October until May or even into June. Under the snow the dormant ferns were protected from severe weather and in the short summer they rapidly grew and released their spores. The photograph taken in 1995 shows large, multi-crowned plants dominated by Athyrium distentifolium and Cryptogramma crispa, two typical snowbed species. In 2003 there was no snow on the ground from January onward and the ferns suffered severely. The second photograph, taken in 2005, shows the same area with very few ferns visible. Some clumps had died completely and others had only the occasional crown remaining with a few, small fronds. The ferns are gradually recovering but with repeated episodes like this the ferns would not survive at all. This is good example of how keeping a photographic record can help monitor the effects of climate change on fern populations.



Photographic Recording Project

Repeating photos of ferns in the field to assess past, present and future change


Ferns seem particularly sensitive indicators of environmental change. Because of this, the BPS is building a project through which to use fern field photographs as an objective basis of assessment of the progress of change, past, present and future. This project thus requires the use, for interpretative purposes, of field photographs of ferns (and other pteridophytes) taken in as many different places as possible, at multiple times. We are encouraging pteridologists to gain and contribute paired photos of the same location, separated in time.

The idea for this project originated in Chris Page's article: Recording Ferns part 3, in Pteridologist, 4, 6 (2007) pp 188-189. In that Chris wrote:

"What is needed are series of photographs which represent similar (mostly medium-distance) shots of fern habitats over time, which are repeated from as near the same position as possible. Such successive photos will show exactly what degree of change has actually taken place in the intervals adopted."

There are some notes which we hope that may assist in this pursuit.

We hope that members of BPS may be prepared to participate, either when on official or other meetings, or just when out-and-about in their own local areas, which they themsleves probably know best. Photographs do not have to be just local or indeed British. The wider their geographic spread, the better.

We hope that this will gradually build into a database of pictures and information. We intend, when enough comparative data is received from enough parts of Britain and Ireland (and perhaps even from overseas), that this will form the basis for an interpretative publication from the BPS on Fern Change, in much the same way as the earlier Fern Atlas production.

Please consider routinely adding this fresh dimension to your fern hunting !


Woodsia ilvensis at Corrie Fee
A wild site of Woodsia ilvensis in Scotland has been visited by botanists over a long period. We have one series that spans ten years.


Project Team

Dr Chris Page
is scientific co-ordinator of the project, and can be contacted to discuss the scope of the project and any specific scientific requirements.

Dr Yvonne Golding is overall project leader for the BPS, providing further information and encouragement throughout, and as a source of updates on the project.

Anthony Pigott is technical co-ordinator assembling the BPS digital archive of this material, and it is to him that all images should be initially offered.



Copyright ©1997-2009 British Pteridological Society

This page was last updated on 20/3/09