Himantoglossum hircinum aka Lizard Orchid is a very conspicuous species that has been studied in detail in England since the 1930s (Carey 1999). It is a species that reaches its northern range limit in the south of England and its spread has been predicted by correlative modelling (Carey & Brown 1994, Carey 1996, Carey 1998).
Detailed population studies have been carried out every year since 1977 and it is clear that in England the species is becoming more abundant with an exponential increase in numbers since the end of the 1980s. The detailed population work shows that in England seeds are only produced after two consecutive years that are warm and wet in the winter and hot and sunny in the summer (Carey & Farrell 2002, Carey et al 2002). These conditions were rare in England until recently. New populations have appeared in southern England (there were 10 in 1990 and there are now 23) but there has yet to be a shift northwards – it will be only a matter of time before the correlative models are fulfilled!
The species has also been studied in eastern Germany (Pfeiffer 2006a,b) where it reaches its north-eastern limit. The number of plants there is also increasing. Populations are now being studied in England, Germany, Spain, Italy and France.
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