It took my PhD external examiner 9 months to get round to having the viva voce. Meanwhile, as Quain Student at Iniversity College London (equivalent to assistant lecturer) I looked for a problem that could be tackled with the simple equipment available. My mother had introduced me to Sphagnum when I was about 8 years old. The ideas of cation exchange were of active interest to chemists, and the Cambridge school of plant physiologists (Briggs, Hope, Robertson) had developed the idea of the Donnan free space. So I applied these ideas quantitatively to how it was that Sphagnum made its environment acid.
The International Botanical Congress happened every 4 years, and was to be in Edinburgh in 1964. It was my first experience of a mega-meeting. I contributed to a bryophyte session. The Bryologist then asked all the contributors to write what amounted to an extended summary of what they had presented. This was mine.
Study with litterbags showing that some species and parts (capitulum, lower stem+branches) of Sphagnum decay more rapidly than others, and that all decay more rapidly when placed near the surface than when placed below the watertable. Also shows that the layer of detectable sulphide moves up and down with the watertable. Lays the foundation for later work on acrotelm and catotelm processes, and on how they can lead to carbon sequestration.
Written for a symposium the Proceedings of which I later helped to edit. First attempt at treating cation exchange as a quantitative chemical process.
( 6) Clymo RS (1967). Control of cation concentrations, and in particular of pH in Sphagnum-dominated communities. Chemical Environment in the Aquatic Habitat. Eds Golterman HL and Clymo RS. Amsterdam, North Holland: 273-284.
Article (6) above had shown that one needs to know the growth rate of Sphagnum in order to account for or predict the pH of bog water. This article (10) describes and tests several methods for measuring growth in the field. Widely quoted, as 'Methods' articles often are.
Applies the methods devised in (13) above to the effects of watertable, shade, pH, Ca concentration, and desiccation on Sphagnum growth. Reprinted in 2013 in the British Ecological Society's 100 best Journal of Ecology articles, to celebrate the Society's centenary
Work for the IBP (International Biological Programme) as part of a carbon balance sheet for the blanket bog at Moor House.
A comparison of several numeric methods for ordinating the vegetation on a small peat bog. Includes an early example of the use on vegetation of NPMDS (non-parametric multi-dimenional scaling - a beautiful technique making big demands, for that time, on computing time and store). The data were collected on one of their annual excursions by the lightly organised Mires Research Group, later formalised within the British Ecological Society. It was near the end of the time when such voluntary excursions could be financed from the ordinary departmental grant.
Longish review including several small bits of research not published independently elsewhere.
Water content estimated in an automatic apparatus from absorbance by a 30-cm diameter core of Sphagnum rotating and moving up and down in a fixed thin flat beam of gamma radiation. Marked hysteresis. A good example of what used to be possible with an in-house workshop and crumbs from the physics table.
The third part of 'Growth of Sphagnum', originally unplanned. Showed that the Sphagnum 'canopy' absorbs 99 % of incident light in the top 2 to 10 cm of the canopy. Any leaves still alive at that shallow depth are below the compensation point and die, so aerobic decay begins quite close to the surface of Sphagnum carpets.
Commissioned for a Royal Society meeting on 'Ecological Effects of Deposited Sulphur and Nitrogen Compounds'. Most of the meeting was about the 'acid rain' problem. My part was to show that peatlands were naturally acid, and that the extra contribution from acid rain was relatively small.
2-cm thick slices from a 30-cm diameter core of Sphagnum magellanicum kept shaded from direct sunlight in almost sealed clear polythene bags for several months. Surprising abundance of regenerant Sphagnum plants from 'axillary' buds and spores down to 30 cm or so.
Experiments with small Sphagnum cores into which a suspension of Lycopodium spores had been introduced at various depths. Cores were sprayed daily with water, or left open to allow evaporation, or were both sprayed and left open. Upwash, in the evaporation stream, and downwash were both ckearly shown.
Contribution to a wide ranging NATO symposium in Toronto
(31) Clymo RS (1987). Interactions of Sphagnum with water and air. Effects of Atmospheric Pollutants on Forests, Wetlands and Agricultural Ecosystems. Eds Hutchinson TC, Meema K, Berlin, Springer: 513-529.
Getting near-undisturbed cores from the surface of a peat bog is not always easy, and may be near-impossible in fluid peat. This equipment was used to get cores, 30 cm diameter and 50 cm deep, from the surface of many sorts of peat bogs.
A companion to (29) above for liverworts
It was accepted that solutes might be transported in a water stream external to a moss plant, but this article provides the first (?) direct evidence of internal transport and the structures in which it occurs.
The summary meeting at the Royal Society for the Palaeolimnology and Lake Acidification programme. It was during this work that I discovered Ellergower Moss, on which I did most of my work from 1989 onwards.
Commisioned for a symposium held in Dundee
(42) Clymo RS (1992). Productivity and decomposition of peatland ecosystems. Peatland Ecosystems and Man: An Impact Assessment. Eds Bragg OM, Hulme PD, Ingram HAP, Robertson RA. Dundee, University of Dundee: 3-16.
I contributed very little to this and am surprised that my name is on it.
(45) Tolonen K, Vasander H, Damman AWH, Clymo RS (1992). Rate of apparent and true carbon accumulation in Boreal peatlands. 9th International Peat Congress, Uppsala, Sweden, International Peat Society.
Very similar to (45) above. I contributed no more to this than to (45), and am surprised that my name is on it..
I saw the data presented at a meeting but with no analysis and suggested writing this article to the first author.
When 'acid rain' was a hot topic the CEGB (Central Electricity Generating Board), who were thought at the time to be the major producers of atmospheric acids falling on Britain, set up a large experiment at Loch Fleet to test the possibility of restoring a recently acidified lake. The main treatment was to spread large amounts of ground limestone, brought in by helicopter, on the catchment much of which was Sphagnum-covered. The procedure was effective in restoring trout to the lake after several years, but for Sphagnum the treatment was lethal. Article (41) is a general account of the biology of the limed area; this article (47) is more specifically about Sphagnum
Commissioned. Nothing new.
Early attempt to distinguish carbon sequestration from climate change potential. Not what bryologists were interested in, and almost completely ignored.
(57) Clymo RS (1998). Sphagnum, the peatland carbon economy, and climate change. Bryology for the Twenty-First Century. Eds Bates JW, Ashton NW, Duckett JG. Leeds, Maney Publishing Company and The British Bryological Society: 361-368.
Invited contribution to a BES special meeting. Feedback mechanism that tends to keep peat growth rate steady.
(60) Belyea LR. Clymo RS (1999). Do hollows control the rate of peat bog growth? Patterned mires and mire pools: origin and development, flora and fauna. Eds Standen V, Tallis JH, Meade R. London, British Ecological Society: 55-65.
Great fun. A meeting in Finland in a series 'The aesthetics of ...'. This one was 'peatlands' (there is a lot of peatland in Finland). This article attempts to set the scientific background for a general academic audience. This version is the translated text. The original unpublished English version from which the translation was made follows as (61a).
In Finnish. The original (unpublished) English version of (61) is as (61a).
Original English text from which the published Finnish version (61) was made.
Extended version of (60): feedback mechanism that tends to keep peat growth rate steady.
An interesting manifesto, to which I contributed a bit about Sphagnum's place in peat formation. But most of the article is other's work. Happy to see that there is so much interest in Sphagnum that there is now a formal group. Their interests are mainly molecular, and 'traits'. There is still much to be done on growth and physiology.
(73) Weston DJ, Turetsky MR, et al. and Clymo RS, Shaw AJ [34 authors in all] (2018) The Sphagnome Project: enabling ecological and evolutionary insights through a genus level sequencing project. New Phytologist 217: 16-25