The Myxomycetes of Clyne Wood, Swansea
What Are Myxomycetes
Myxomycetes, also known as slime moulds, are not animals, they are not plants and they are not fungi, but belong to a completely different Kingdom of life, the Protozoa which includes the protozoans and algae among others. They are superficially similar to fungi in that they reproduce by producing spores but differ significantly by having a motive phase to their life cycle - the plasmodium. Myxomycetes spend most of their time as a plasmodium, moving around within their habitat consuming bacteria, algae and other small organisims. Plasmodia can be microscopic in size to over a meter across and are often brightly coloured. A trigger will cause the plasmodium to move to the surface (top of a rotting log for example) and produce one or more sporocarps. The sporocarps contain spores which are dispersed into the environment to eventually become new plasmodia. It is the sporocarps that are used to define the various species (approximately 400 in the UK). More information can be found via. the links and references at the bottom of the page.
Where To Find Myxomycetes
Myxomycetes are most commonly found as sporocarps, though a freshly emerged plasmodium can sometimes be seen. Sprocarps range in size from less than 1mm to over 1m, most are just a few millimeters tall. Fortunately a single plasmodium can produce many hundreds if not thousands of sporocarps which can cover quite a lage area making them a lot easier to find. Most myxomycetes are found on dead wood or on leaf litter but also occur on the bark of living trees, dung, herbaceous litter and even on living plants. Careful examination of peices of dead wood while out on a walk will often result in the discovery of these beautiful and fascinating organisms.
Clyne Wood Myxomycetes
Below is a list of species that have been found in Clyne Wood over the past few years. Click on a species name to view photographs and further information.
List of Species Found in Clyne Wood
Introduction to the slime moulds
- Site with a brief introduction to Myxomycetes
Ing, B. 1999, The Myxomycetes of Britain and Ireland. - The definitive guide to British myxomycetes. Now out of print and hard to find.
Capillitium - Sterile structures within the sporocarp that aid the release of the spores.