Catherine Pross April 2022
The soil on the properties herein described is Bridgewater loam covering slate bedrock. In some places the soil appears deep, but on the ocean side of the Gully the rocky ridge is only thinly covered.
In the coastal forest that grows on these properties, white spruce is a dominant tree along the ocean edge. It tolerates salt spray and grows well in full sun. It has a shallow root system which thrives even where the soil is thin with the help of its fungal partners. It is a tree that does better than others on the edge of Dublin Bay.
Balsam fir comes close to white spruce in its ability to adapt to these coastal conditions. It is not so tolerant of salt spray but can survive exposure to wind and weather and grows in full sun or full shade. Back from the edge, other conifers such as red and black spruce are mixed with fir, as well as tamarack and less frequently, white pine. Some hardwoods, mostly red maple and birch are interspersed.
As well as the forested areas on these properties described above, there are wetlands. Two were looked at in detail: the first along the stream which eventually drains through the Gully, and the second along the Dublin Bay side of the Old Public Highway from Upper Kingsburg to Lower LaHave. In the winter conditions in which we have visited these properties, the woody plants are the visible ones. Although one wetland was along a stream and the other was a bog, many of the same plants appeared along the edges of both: kalmia, leatherleaf, cranberry, crowberry, black spruce, tamarack, Labrador tea, snowberry, teaberry, rhodora, withered, juniper, foxberry, dewberry and, on the edge of the bog, one patch of inkberry. In the flat grass-and sphagnum dominated bog area, there was some bog rosemary as well as a healthy population of leatherleaf.
Lichens and mosses abound in both the forested and the wetland habitats.
Anne Mills April 2022
The wetlands of the Shoughbac (Shaubac) host a diversity of mosses and liverworts. Two locations stand out:
A stream runs southwest down the ravine (Gully) to the rocky coast and lining the base of the ravine are mainly sphagna (bog mosses) and other wetland plants. Inland off the Old Public Highway from Upper Kingsburg to Lower LaHave (which runs east west) is a different kind of bogland; flat and wide on the south side and narrow and filled with water on the north side.
The stream in the ravine provided habitat for the mosses, mainly different species of Sphagnum where water flowed whereas the slopes had good drainage and other less water tolerant mosses and liverworts grew in the damp or dry habitats, over other vegetation, on soil and over rocks. In addition, there were conifers, and perennial and deciduous shrubs.
The second wetland sampled: PID# 60188604, one of the Walker properties, was inland from the coast and was positioned on either side of the Old Public Highway between Upper Kingsburg and Lower LaHave. On the north side of the road was a thin band of fairly deep water with mainly Sphagnum growing in the water but also a few aquatic vascular plants. There was a slight movement of water to the west in this body of water indicating a slight change in elevation. On the south side of the road the bog could be classified as a treed bog with much grass and some sedges and composed of several species of Sphagnum forming hummocks with wet hollows in between. It is my feeling that in the early history of this area, the road that was built in 1869, to link Upper Kingsburg and Lower LaHave, cut this once complete bog into two parts. The plant composition on each portion is quite different. On the north side the continuous water area is filled with more aquatic species of Sphagnum and other wetland plants and is home to frogs and likely other amphibians. Several egg masses of wood frogs were seen on April 13. At least one of the Sphagnum plants measured 25 cm in length reaching to the bottom of the deeper part of the water. This is an indication that this “bog” does not completely dry up in summer providing an aquatic habitat for the amphibians and aquatic insects as well as these deep sphagna. Goldfinch were heard singing suggesting that this bog area likely is a nesting place for them and other passerines. Insects were beginning to be active, example, Bumble Bees seen in early April and black flies and mosquitoes still to come, to name a few that will provide food for warblers and other nesting birds.
These two wetland areas, though once disturbed by human activity have had sufficient time to come to an equilibrium as indicated by the plant and lichen life in this area. This and the other wetlands in the Shoughbac (Shaubac) are an asset to the complex ecology of the area.
Though not yet completed, this list of bryophytes thus far numbers 35 species of mosses including 8 species of Sphagnum and 10 species of liverworts.
Walker Lot PID# 60188596 Frances Anderson April 2022
Hypotrachyna catawbiensis (Degel.) Divakar, A. Crespo, Sipman, Elix & Lumbsch is a tropical lichen species that also occurs on the North American east coast, primarily in the southern Appalachian Mountains.
Scattered occurrences are known from coastal or mountain areas further north. Coastal Maine and New Brunswick have the most concentrated populations, with a few scattered locations known from Nova Scotia. It is ranked S2 (imperiled) in Nova Scotia by the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre (http://www.accdc.com/en/ranks.html).
Its species name is derived from the Native American Catawba tribe known from the border area between South and North Carolina in the United States.
Nova Scotia’s known occurrences have been found in Lunenburg County at Indian Path Common, where it was once fairly frequent and on West Ironbound Island, with additional scattered locations in Queens and Shelburne Counties, along Digby Neck to Brier Island and on the Fundy coast of Kings County. It prefers conifers in highly humid habitats, on the edges of swamps and bogs and in low-lying protected hollows near the coast. The Shaughbac occurrences are more exposed than others, being on the edge of an open bog with little surrounding tree cover. They have been on tamarack or larch (larix laricina) branches.
This lichen is grey-white with spreading and slightly erect branches that divide dichotomously. Its lower surface is black and shiny, as are the lobe margins. There are eyelash-like hairs (cilia) extending from the lobe margins. Small areas of powdery granules occur at the lobe tips and on the upper surface near the ends of the lobes. There are at least three other lichen species that look somewhat similar until closer inspection, the most deceptive of these being Hypogymnia tubulosa (Powder-tipped tube lichen) which has a similar branching pattern and powdery lobe tips, but is slightly inflated and has no cilia.
Much of the coastal forest on Nova Scotia’s Atlantic coast is heavily shrouded in beard lichens (Usneas) that drape themselves in highly visible swathes from the branches of white spruce, black spruce, fir and tamarack. Recently, a small shrubby beard lichen was discovered on tamarack and black spruce branches edging the bog along the Lower LaHave Road (PID# George Walker) that runs mostly parallel to Dublin Bay. It is a species known as Usnea macaronesica P. Clerc , new to North America in 2006. Since then, it has been reported only from coastal Maine and three locations in Nova Scotia: Cape Chignecto, Blandford peninsula and Indian Path Common. Prior to its discovery in Maine, it was known only from the Canary Islands and the Azores.
(World distribution of U.macaronesica 2006*)
It was found on four trees near the bog. There are likely more instances of it along the same bog edges, as well as in other coastal forests along the Atlantic, though to date none has been reported. Usneas are generally difficult to identify to species, since their growth form is subject to environmental buffeting, so that chemical methods such as thin layer chromatography are required to confirm many species.
The growth form for this shrubby Usnea is quite distinctive (see below). It has likely been overlooked.
*Clerc, Philippe. (2011). Notes on the genus Usnea Adanson (lichenized Ascomycota). III. Bibliotheca Lichenologica. 106. 41-51.