Translocation using spores
This low-key translocation used a unique proposal: translocating only the spores of the waxcaps, rather than the turf containing waxcaps. This met the requirements of the mitigation area’s landowner, who would not allow turve translocations due to the potential for site damage from heavy machinery.
Previous surveys had identified locations within the management agreement mitigation area with similar vegetation to the waxcap-rich site that would be lost, but where there had been no evidence of fruiting waxcaps found since surveys began in 2003. The supposition was that these vacant locations could theoretically be colonised by transferring spores from donor areas.
This approach is based on the premise that waxcaps tend to nestle in the grass, which gives limited opportunities for the wind to carry their spores further afield. Therefore, the vacant areas may have no waxcaps because wind dispersal has been restricted. Subsequently, it was believed that artificially moving fertile caps into these vacant areas by allowing spores to be shed directly into the receptor areas could theoretically have a good probability of creating new waxcap colonies, particularly given vegetation similarities between the sites.
Donor sites were visited weekly from the beginning of September into early December 2014, at which time the frosts halted any cap production. These searches made use of initial surveys previously undertaken in order to identify species presence within the donor and receptor areas.
At each session the candidate donor areas were slowly walked in a zig-zag pattern with each leg approximately five metres from the previous. As some caps were very small and difficult to spot amongst the turf, keeping the survey legs close together ensured good detection rates. The path taken was repeated weekly using a GPS track back function to follow the previous route as closely as possible.
The location of each donor cap or caps (often small colonies of five to twenty caps were found close together) was recorded as a waypoint on a GPS device and the number of caps and their species recorded. The caps were collected by cutting the stalk with scissors and placing them in a garden trug in species groups. There is debate as to whether pulling a cap out of the ground damages the mycelia below so, as a precaution, it was decided to cut the caps in this instance. The caps were separated into species groups to make it easy to apportion representative numbers of each species collected to each receptor location.
At the donor sites, all sporulating fruiting caps of any waxcap species visible were collected, varying in number from tens to hundreds on each occasion. Confirmation of the sporulation of caps was carried out by making spore prints during fruiting in 2013 of caps at different stages of expansion to judge the optimum size that would indicate ripeness and spore-shed. On each collection only those caps estimated to be at optimum expansion were collected. Waxcaps develop caps mainly during the autumn, so collections were made between 19 September (before the first caps emerged) and 4 December (when the number of caps had declined to very low numbers due to the cold weather). This was timed to ensure that early species and specimens were not missed. During the collection period, the number of caps of each species varied on the collection days. Generally, species gradually increased in number and tailed off slowly. Some species only occurred on one or two occasions, such as H. calyptriformis and H. splendidissima that were found on only two and one occasions respectively.
The actual translocation itself was carried out by moving sporulating waxcaps to receptor sites, where they were placed gill-side down to allow them to shed their spores naturally into the receptor turf.
The number of locations from which caps were collected and the numbers of individual caps collected for each species during the collection window of 19 September to 4 December 2014 are shown in the table below.
||No. of locations
||Total No collected
The total number of caps (of all species) available changed across the collection window. The peaks for individual species show that some species, such as H. conica, began fruiting late, fruited well, then declined rapidly over the next few weeks, as the table below shows.
||Total no of caps collected
Depending upon the number of caps collected at the donor site each week, between one and five receptor spots were used to receive the caps. These were spaced out within the receptor area to about three to five metres apart. At each receptor point, a proportion of each species of waxcap collected were placed gill-side down. The caps were carefully set down within an area of roughly one square metre with a distance between caps of around ten to fifteen centimetres. Only two caps of pink waxcap were found and both were translocated.
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