On the Desmid Cosmarium tetrachondrum
Lundell (1871) New Forma
and the article in Micscape Magazine April 1997.

William Ells
Coniferae, Walnut Tree Lane, Loose, Maidstone, Kent.
ME15 9RG. Tel. (01622) 744819

I have been asked why it took from March 1993 until April 1997 to record and publish that a desmid new to The British Isles had been found. (Nice to know somebody reads my articles). It took a lot of research to find a figure and description. Very little has been published on the British desmids: The five volumes of A Monograph of the British Desmidiaceae by W. & G.S.West 1904 - 1923, the last Vol. by Nellie Carter, The West's father & son having died. Only the excellent little book Desmids of the English Lake District by E.Lind & A.J.Brook 1980 has been published since. There are papers on the subject in various journals which the amateur may not find easy to obtain and may be unaware of.

I eventually found a figure of my desmid in A Synopsis of the North American Desmids (all references are in the April 1997 Micscape article), there is no description or list of locations. I sent a copy of my drawing, now with species name, to Dr.J.Lund of The Freshwater Biological Association with a request for information and figures from The Fritsch Collection of Algae Illustrations. This produced a description in German By C.Huzel and a figure by Dr.P.Coesel of the University of Amsterdam. In reply to my request for information Dr.Coesel very kindly sent me pages from his paper in which the figure was published with a description in Dutch. I was nearly there, it had become obvious from the sparse information available that this form of C.tetrachondrum was very rare in Europe and no figure from a British habitat or description in English had been lodged with the Fritsch Collection at the FBA.

Part of this period was taken up with examining samples from other habitats and researching two other desmids of uncertain taxa from the same habitat. On 24th. February 1996 I sent a paper to the Editor of the Quekett Journal of Microscopy for possible publication. Then came the longest delay of all. It was not until 10th.March 1997 that I was told the paper had been submitted to two referees and did not meet with their approval. It was clear from their reports that they had not seen this form of C.tetrachondrum or the papers of other authors describing it, which in fairness they should have admitted and not merely damned my effort. The long delay and the elitism does not encourage the amateur to try and publish his or her observations.

Having wasted more than a year I explained the position to the team at Micscape, re-wrote the paper, dropping a desmid of uncertain taxon which I had included in the paper submitted to the QJM, and they agreed to publish.

Mr. A.Joyce has sent me a fresh sample from the habitat in North West Scotland, the desmid is still thriving there. The microphotograph's above show the 'face' view (a) and the apical view (b).

Editor's note: Comments and feedback via email to Bill Ells are welcomed.


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First published in Micscape Magazine, April 1997 ( ISSN 1365 - 070x )

Article archived at http://www.microscopy-uk.net/mag/art97/ellsnewb.html

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