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Conservation Biology of the Threatened Killarney Fern (Trichomanes speciosum) in Ireland

Emer Ni Dhuill

Emer Ní Dhúill

Supervisors: Dr Stephen Waldren and Dr Noeleen Smyth

The Killarney Fern (Trichomanes speciosum) is categorised as ‘Endangered’ in Ireland and is listed in Annex II of the EU Habitats Directive. Ireland is the westerly European stronghold of this species. This slow-growing rare filmy fern is found in deeply shaded habitats. It has a typical two-stage life cycle. The sporophyte is the fern-like stage and the gametophyte is the moss-like stage. Both stages can live independently of each other by reproducing vegetatively. However, it does not appear to be reproducing sexually in the Irish populations. If it is not reproducing sexually, it will have a negative affect on the genetic diversity of this species. There is a need to monitor existing wild populations and also to develop and maintain long-term ex-situ collections. The aims of this project are to contribute to the conservation management of this species by assessing clonal growth, reproduction, and population differentiation. This will be done by developing appropriate field monitoring methods, site characterisation, assessment of population sizes, use of molecular markers to provide population genetic information, and the development of conservation management guidelines for the species. The project is funded by National Parks & Wildlife Services (NPWS) and is a collaborative project between Trinity College Botany Department, National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin and Teagasc Research Station, Kinsealy.

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Last updated 14 December 2009