It was great to catch up with existing colleagues Jessica Royles and Howard Griffiths from the University of Cambridge and Pete Convey and Dom Hodgson from BAS and meet Dan Charman, Angela Gallego-Sala, Matt Amesbury and Tom Roland from the University of Exeter. Other international participants included Zicheng Yu, Dave Beilman and Julie Loisel from the USA, Svante Bjorck and Nathalie van der Putten from Lund University, Sweden and François de Vleeschouwer from the University of Toulouse, France. The group included experts in paleosciences, ecology, physiology, isotopes and modelin. We compared our experiences with mosses from around Antarctica ranging from moss cushions to thick peat beds. The aim of the workshop was to increase our understanding of the environmental conditions that drive formation and persistance of peat bogs and how these ecosystems maybe affected by climate change.
This conference was held at Dartington Hall, which is near Totnes and Torquay on the South coast of Devon in southwest England. It is a short drive to Dartmoor which is one of the great wild places of England (illustrated above). On a glorious October day like this it is a wonderful example of the English countryside, although some say its real character is in the rain and mist. For those of a literary persuasion, The Hound of the Baskervilles by Conan Doyle is set in Dartmoor, and is finely evocative of the damper and more mysterious side of this English national treasure.