Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ferns in Italy: Liguria

Our second field trip in Italy was to Liguria, where we hiked into an abandoned manganese mine filled with a lush, dense covering of ferns. Between the valley floor and hill we had to hike up and over to reach the mine, we crossed a number of habitat types and saw ferns with many varieties of habitat preference, from dark forest understory to exposed, gravelly cliff faces.

Me at the bottom of the valley
Looking down at the shaft from across the valley

Cheilanthes tinaei
Asplenium foreziense
Asplenium septentrionale
Asplenium onopteris

The red is from the manganese
Abandoned mine tracks
Abandoned mine cart

Dryopteris dilatata
Asplenium x sleepiaea
Asplenium adiantum-nigrum
Asplenium trichomanes ssp. trichomanes
Pressing and labeling all our collections

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ferns in Italy: the Apennines

The next stop on our European trip was the Italian Riviera. We spent several days doing fieldwork in Ligura and the Apennines along the northwestern coast of Italy. Our host and guide here was a wonderful friend I met through the American Fern Society's Facebook page. We visited several beautiful, forested sites in the mountains surrounded by marble mines.

Our base was the seaside city of Sestri Levante, the most beautiful city I've ever been to.

Head first in Dryopteris
World War II ordnance

Dryopteris and Asplenium
Dryopteris affinis
Dryopteris affinis 
Polystichum setiferum
Asplenium trichomanes ssp. quadrivalens
Blechnum spicant
Dryopteris borreri
Asplenium ruta-muraria ssp. dolomiticum
Asplenium trichomanes
Asplenium ceterach ssp. bivalens

Dryopteris x mantoniae, named for British cytologist Irene Manton.
Italian pteridologist Dino Marchetti provides some scale!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Herbarium visits

The second stop on our trip was Paris, to visit the herbarium at the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle. We only had one day to spend there, and were able to be extremely efficient because the herbarium is so beautifully organized. Here is the entrance to the building housing the fern collections  (Phanerogamie), and one of the aisles of cabinets in the herbarium.

After our single day in Paris we took a day-long train ride through France to reach Turin, in northwestern Italy. We visited another herbarium there before continuing on to Sestri Levante, on the Italian Riviera. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ferns in the Netherlands

I just returned from a month-long fern collecting trip through most of central Europe; it was fantastic and I brought back ~500 samples, both newly collected from the field and material sampled from herbarium specimens. All of these samples, which are from various Dryopteris and Asplenium species, will have DNA extracted, and then be included in sequencing projects to determine phylogenetic relationships in the two genera, the focus of a big project in my lab. I'll post pictures from the whole trip over the next few weeks. The itinerary included stops in the Netherlands, Paris, Turin and Sestri Levante in Italy, Ceske Budejovice in the southwestern Czech Republic, Bonn, Ghent, and Madrid.

We started the trip by spending a week in the Netherlands, based in Leiden. We visited the exceptional herbarium collections at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center, which houses collections from universities all over the Netherlands. Looking out over the collections from the second floor was like being in the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark:

In addition to sampling from material at the herbarium, we went on several field trips to collect fresh material from the field. Our host, Peter Hovenkamp, brought us to several beautiful sites in the northern part of the country, and we found a number of Dryopteris species, several of which are endemic to Europe and that I had never seen before.
Our collecting team: Arjen de Groot, my husband/field assistant, me, Aino Juslén, Peter Hovenkamp
Finding our first big Dryopteris affinis!
Dryopteris dilatata:

Dryopteris affinis:

Polystichum setiferum:

Some beautiful sori on several fertile species:
Dryopteris dilatata
Dryopteris affinis
Left: D. filix-mas, right: D. affinis. The indusium margins are a good way to tell them apart.
 Stream with Dryopteris affinis:

Asplenium scolopendrium:

 Dryopteris cristata: