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James HC Fenton


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Antarctic grass, algae & fungi

9. Antarctic hair grass Deschampsia antarctica

Picture 1: Close-up.

Pictures 2-4: Swards of grass at Penguin Island, South Shetland Islands.

Picture 5: A patch of grass on Cuverville Island (Antarctic Peninsula).

Picture 6: Shingle Cove, Coronation Island (South Orkneys).

These pictures all taken in 1998-9.

10. Terrestrial algae and fungi

Picture 1: The green alga Prasiola crispa is common on the ground in penguin rookeries.

Pictures 2-3: ‘Red snow’ composed of the green alga Chlamydomanas nivalis. Note that the green chlorophyll is masked by a red pigment. This alga grows directly on the snow, and becomes concentrated as the snow melts at the end of summer causing the snow to turn pink. Picture 3 shows a small ice-cap covering an island which has melted back to ice with a covering of snow algae.

Picture 4: Two snowballs, one made of red snow and one of green snow. Green snow is found near bird colonies where the bird droppings fertilise the snow - see picture 5.

Picture 5: Green snow beneath a bird cliff (picture taken in Spitsbergen).

Picture 6: A fungal fairy ring in a turf of the moss Chorisodontium aciphyllum on Signy Island (South Orkneys). Note the metre rule for scale.

Picture 7: A close-up of a fairy ring: the fungus is advancing right to left.

Picture 8: Close-ups of the moss Chorisodontium showing ‘pockmarks’ resulting from a fungal infection.

Picture 9: A fairy ring spreading through a carpet of the moss Drepanocladus uncinatus. Note mushrooms above the left end of the ruler.

For further information on fairy rings in Antarctic moss see the paper:

Fenton, J. 1983: Concentric fungal rings in Antarctic moss communities. Transactions of the British Mycological Society. Vol. 80.