ID: 613 / 108

Category: Symposia

Track: Pending


Abstract: The Atlantic fringe of Europe shares a common oceanic climate that is relatively mild and where rainfall occurs year-round; where it exceeds 1,000 mm p.a., peatlands arise. In cooler climates, blanket bog develops, but heathland, dominated by Calluna vulgaris and many species of the Ericaceae is common to all such regions. The human culture, largely but not exclusively Celtic, is also shared, facilitated by movements along the Atlantic coasts. It is this traffic that is now thought to be responsible for the disjunct distributions of many plant (and animal) species. One example is the Lusitanian element of the British and Irish Flora. Several palaeoecological and genetic studies now exist that support the view that such species were brought northwards through transport of goods from along the coast, with at least one dating back to the start of the Bronze Age in Ireland. This symposium is an opportunity to explore these and other aspects of the flora of the Atlantic fringe, many of which are linked to historic journeys along the coasts. For example, several Erica species may have been brought as part of packaging with cargo. The landing of the cargo in remote parts of western coasts would facilitate the establishment of species coming from a similar habitat further south. Up to date genetic studies can pin-point relationships between plant (and animal) populations along the Atlantic coasts and provide unique information for archaeological research on the movement of human populations. There is wide scope for multidisciplinary collaboration in this area of research.

Speaker 1: Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington. Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland, Senior and University of Galway, Galway, Ireland. “Is the Strawberry Tree Arbutus unedo native to Ireland or was it brought to Ireland by Bonze Age copper miners?”

Speaker 2: Nick Scott ‘Seagal’, Ballynacourty, Clarinbridge, Co. Galway Ireland. “Are the rare heathers of Britain & Ireland evidence of an ancient direct trade route from north Spain”

Speaker 3: Prof Jaime Fagúndez Grupo de Investigación en Biología Costera (BioCost), Centro de Investigaciones Científicas Avanzadas (CICA), Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidade da Coruña, 15071 A Coruña, España. “Genetic heritage of Strawberry Tree Arbutus unedo: potential origins of Irish, Welsh and French populations.”

Topics (Up to three): Biogeography / Phylogeography

Topic 2: Botanical History

Topic 3: Paleobotany / Archaeobotany

Justification: Because many of the disjunct plant species would appear to originate in Iberia, the location of the conference in Madrid is ideal for forging links and transmitting information amongst researchers situated especially along the Atlantic fringe. We are already collaborating on research of some of these species, but it would be a very good opportunity to widen out the expertise and to include research in e.g. France, Portugal and Britain. The topics proposed fit into multidisciplinary research and could fit under one of the following headings 3. Biogeography / Phylogeography. 4. Botanical History, or possibly 20. Palaeobotany/ Archaeobotany. [98 words]