The Beast of Cors Fochno

Contributed by Evelyn Greeves and Richard Payne

Hi, I’m Evelyn Greeves, a second-year biology undergrad at University of York making a brief foray into the world of testate amoebae as part of a research scholarship. I’ve been looking at a novel morphotype of Hyalosphenia papilio found at Cors Fochno, a raised, estuarine Sphagnum bog in North Wales. This ‘broad form’ morphotype is large (around 130μm wide on average), distinctive and easy to identify – but as yet undocumented anywhere in the world except for at this one location.

We suspect the morphotype may be either a very recently evolved subspecies of H. papilio, or some extreme phenotype which has adapted to the peat conditions at Cors Fochno. It looks a lot like a specimen of H. papilio which has been squashed to give it a fat “bottom” and is unique in that it is broader than it is high. None of the environmental conditions measured indicated anything special about the three sites (of total 36) at which it was found, though water table was typically high and pH low.

We want to find out if this morphotype is present in bogs other than Cors Fochno to build a better picture of what this beastie is, and what on earth it’s doing here. We’re especially interested in bogs with a similar raised, coastal ecology. If you come across a specimen which fits the description above, please contact Richard Payne at richard.payne@york.ac.uk.

Disclaimer: this post is not intended for purposes of nomenclature and is not issued as part of the permanent scientific record – this is not a formal description.

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