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New discoveries in charity’s ‘Lost world’ Highland estate

Press Release 20th January 2012


Contact: Richard Bunting. 07753 488146; richard@richardbunting.com
 

Biodiversity surveys carried out on Trees for Life’s Dundreggan Estate, in Glen Moriston, Inverness-shire in 2011 – the first year of the United Nations Decade of Biodiversity (2011-2020) and also the International Year of Forests – have revealed a range of rare and endangered species, it was announced today.

Palisade sawfly larvae on aspen leaf

Palisade sawfly larvae (Stauronematus platycerus) feeding on an aspen leaf (Populus tremula) on Dundreggan.
 

Larva of sawfly Amauronematus sp. on dwarf birch

Larva of sawfly (Amauronematus sp.) feeding on dwarf birch (Betula nana) on Dundreggan.
 

Azure hawker dragonfly

Azure hawker dragonfly (Aeshna caerulea) on Dundreggan.
 

Dwarf birch with tar spot fungus

Dwarf birch (Betula nana) with tar spot fungus (Atopospora betulina) on its leaves on Dundreggan.
 


The new discoveries on the 10,000-acre estate include the first Scottish record of one species of sawfly and what may be the first British record of another; the second-ever British record of a waxfly species; and species of spider, cranefly and dragonfly all listed in the UK’s Red Data Book of endangered species.

At least 60 priority species for conservation have now been identified on the site, which lies to the west of Loch Ness and which has been described as a ‘lost world’. The 2011 findings add to the extensive range of species already discovered on Dundreggan, some of which were previously unknown in Scotland, or which were feared to be extinct there.

Alan Watson Featherstone, Executive Director of Trees for Life, said: “The richness and diversity of life on Dundreggan is astonishing. The secrets slowly being revealed on this Highland estate suggest that we have much more to learn about the true extent of Scotland’s biodiversity. It’s a powerful reminder of the crucial importance of conservation work.”

A survey last year by Guy Knight, Curator of Entomology at National Museums Liverpool, added 32 species of sawfly to those that he found on Dundreggan in 2010. This brings the total known sawfly species there to at least 120, which Guy has described as being ‘quite exceptional’ and ‘very difficult to find a parallel in the Highlands’. New species included:

  • The ‘palisade’ sawfly (Stauronematus platycerus), not previously recorded in Scotland.
  • A species of Amauronematus sawfly that is very unlikely to have been recorded in Britain before. It was found as larvae on dwarf birch, a plant which none of the currently known British species are associated with. The larvae were provisionally identified as Amauronematus sempersolis, known from Finland, Norway and Russia, although this identification needs to be confirmed by further study.
  • Pristiphora coniceps, Nematus frenalis and Pseudodineura enslini, all provisionally classified as Rare in the UK’s Red Data Book.

Other notable discoveries made during Guy Knight’s work were:

  • The second-ever British record of the waxfly, Helicoconis hirtinervis, which was first confirmed as present in Britain earlier in 2011 from a single specimen found in Sutherland.
  • Two significant spiders, the Red Data Book-listed Clubiona subsultans and the nationally scarce Philodromus emarginatus.

Notable discoveries in work carried out by Duncan Sivell of Buglife were several species of cranefly, including the rare Tipula limbata; the Red Data Book-listed Dicranomyia omissinervis; and what may be the first British record of Dicranomyia halterella in 10 years.

A dragonfly survey conducted by dragonfly specialist Jonathan Willet mapped the Red Data Book species Azure Hawker (Aeshna caerulea), classified as Vulnerable and under-recorded in Scotland. The study suggests that Dundreggan has the largest known single area of contiguous breeding habitat for the Azure Hawker in Scotland – although other areas of potentially suitable habitat have yet to be thoroughly surveyed. The survey also identified the near-threatened Northern Emerald Dragonfly (Somatochlora arctica).

Another interesting discovery was the presence of a tar spot fungus (Atopospora betulina) on the dwarf birch. There are very few records of this fungus in Scotland.

Trees for Life purchased Dundreggan in 2008. The charity is planting half a million trees on the estate as part of its award-winning restoration of the Caledonian Forest. The charity is also working for the return of rare woodland wildlife, plants and insects, and is conducting scientific research and education programmes. Volunteers are carrying out much of the forest restoration work at the site. For more information, see www.treesforlife.org.uk or call 0845 458 3505.

Ends

 

Notes to editors

  1. Trees for Life aims to restore the Caledonian Forest to an area of 1,500 square kilometres in the Scottish Highlands west of Inverness. Since planting its first trees in 1991 in Glen Affric, Trees for Life has planted over 924,000 trees. Its awards include 1991 UK Conservation Project of the Year, the Millennium Marque in 2000 and Top 10 Conservation Holidays worldwide in 2009.
  2. For previous press releases on discoveries at Dundreggan, please see: Rare and endangered species found in Highlands estate’s “lost world”, Rare sawfly discovered for first time in UK and Biodiversity surveys identify over 50 key species on Highland Estate

 

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Trees for Life is an award winning conservation charity working to restore the Caledonian Forest
and all its species to a large contiguous area in the Highlands of Scotland.

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