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Cairngorms Ecology Surveys

Over the past few days, our highly trained staff have been sent off to the Cairngorms for one marvellous infrastructure project. Fortunately, the site itself didn't possess many important ecological features aside from some cosmopolitan species, though the ancient landscape around the site was certainly something to behold...

On lunch, our surveyors travelled across a public footpath up the hill, where they found some species that are amongst the most prehistoric of our plants - clubmosses! This peculiar group of plants first evolved around 400 million years back, well before the time of the dinosaurs, and might best be described as alien Christmas trees when it comes to their appearance. Not only are these ancient plants pretty extraordinary-looking, but the spores of clubmosses are also used in condom manufacture and special effects dust explosions!

Stag's-horn Clubmoss (Lycopodium clavatum) (left) and Roz with Alpine Clubmoss (Diphasiastrum alpinum) (right)

A look under a rabbit carcass found one of our prettiest and most nauseating beetles, a silhpid beetle (Nicrophorus vespilloides)! This group of beetles are specially adapted to bury and eat rotting flesh, whilst this species, if intimidated by a predator, rolls onto its back and squeaks, whilst pumping out half digested rotten meat from both orifices. Thankfully, a thorough hand-washing was in order before any lunch!

A silphid beetle (Nicrophorus vespilloides)

A gander into the lower lying areas found an abundance of one really special group of mosses, the Sphagnum mosses! This incredible group is specially adapted to peat-forming habitats, and have some sublime adaptations. Although many might not catch your eye right away, Sphagnum mosses are able to hold up to 8 times their own weight in water, meaning that they're able to keep their occupied habitats permanently saturated. Alongside their water-holding ability that even Bounty kitchen roll would be envious of, they also pump hydrogen ions out, making their environment not only wet, but also very acidic. These fascinating abilities give this humble group of mosses some serious competitive advantage across their preferred habitats.

A mass of Sphagnum mosses

Although we weren't lucky enough to spot any spectacular mammals that were known in the area like red squirrels, pine marten or otter, the landscape dominated by upland heath and peatlands was certainly something to behold, alongside the array of the specialist species found across the extending environment.

Tyrer Ecological Consultants Ltd are so proud to be host to an exceptionally competent team, and are pleased to be able to offer our services to a huge variety of terrestrial habitats found all across the British Isles.

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