Brand new blog from RSPB Scotland Trainee Ecologist, David Freeman. Find out more about the fascinating Bryophytes found on our reserves!

A New Career in a New Town

Back in March, I was delighted to be offered the position of Trainee Ecologist based at RSPB Scotland's Edinburgh HQ. The role is a fantastic opportunity to build on and develop a range of Ecological skills as well as a chance to undertake some real conservation work and make a real difference.

Conocephalum conicum  by Li Zhang via

In particular, I am focusing on Bryophytes a group of tiny plants commonly known as mosses, liverworts and hornworts. These often-overlooked plants are some of nature’s most beautiful creations and display a range of deep colours and fascinating growth forms. They are also of incredible ecological importance. Their reliance on ambient humidity for water means they are often vulnerable to atmospheric pollution and the production of peat from the sphagnum mosses is one of the most important ecological processes in the world.

My calendar for the next few months is already filling up with fieldwork planned in Abernethy, Glenborrodale, Forsinard, Strathbeg, Orkney and Corrimony. Additionally I am being sent on numerous training courses both internal and external in places Like Geltsdale, Loch Leven and Raasay. These represent a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills as well as increase the amount of work I am able to undertake in my current role.

Thuidium delicatulum via

So far, I have been out briefly to Loch Leven and Loch Lomond each time gathering a range of samples. At both of these reserves I have only scratched the surface of what must be present, but when you consider how overlooked bryophytes are, any addition to the records is a step forward!  Highlights so far have to be seeing Conocephalum conicum a common but distinctive plant, Thuidium delicatulum that provided me with a fantastic opportunity to practice some microscope ID skills and the Bonsai tree-like Thamnobryum alopecurum. Spotting an osprey fishing on Loch Lomond was a nice moment too.

Thamnobryum alopecurum

Over the next few months, I intend to contribute a blog entry regularly to the website. I hope that this will paint a picture of some of the amazing work undertaken by the RSPB and draw attention to the fascinating world of Bryophytes.