The life and afterlife of bog-moss: why it matters
Join Professor Emeritus R.S. ('Dicky') Clymo, for his Valedictory lecture.
The lecture will be followed by a networking drinks reception.
1. In life, the bog moss (Sphagnum) covers about 3 % of the Earth’s land surface, and is far and away the most successful and important moss. Why? It flourishes on starvation rations of nitrogen and phosphorus, thrives with its feet in water, and makes that water acid. This unique combination of abilities enables it to exclude most other plants.
2. In death, the moss decays unusually slowly and its remains are the main constituents of peat, which has been accumulating in the current interglacial period for 5000 to 10 000 years. There is about as much carbon locked up in peat as there is in the atmosphere. Peat forms about 1/4 of all the organic carbon on the Earth’s land surface (in trees, grasslands, soils, and peat). What happens as global temperatures rise is an important question.
Meet our Professor
Born 1933 to Betty and Herbert Clymo (GP, and Welfare Officer). Early education at the Quaker school in Saffron Walden, followed by an interlude as a Forestry Commission labourer, then at University College London for first degree in Botany and PhD in ecology (Why is about 1/3 of the British flora restricted to calcareous soils?: answer, the plant roots are sensitive to the tiny concentration of aluminium in acid soils).
Staff at UCL, then at Westfield College for 20 years ending there as Professor and HoD for the move to QM (followed a few years later by the formal merger of the two institutions). Then, at QM, Dean of Science and Head of Biological Sciences. Forty years a cyclist in London.
During all this continued teaching and research especially on the bog-moss and on peat.