In the News; General from May 2023

The Jan 2023forum seems a bit long, so I thought I’d suggest a restart from MayDay 2023.

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An interesting article and it does raise the issue of buying appropriate seed mixes for the are.
However (there is always an However) the idea of collecting from local wildflower sites may be OK in Sweden, but it may be less appropriate in my part of Bristol.

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Interesting BBC article about Northern Gannets that survived Avian flu are showing changes to eye colour:

Not necessarily, but not necessarily, not cause and effect. Maybe ‘black iris’ is a mutation that sits on the same part of a chromosome that has a ‘gene’ that gives some protection against avian flu. Has ‘black iris’ been recorded before? We’ll look out for updates will be fun.

Not entirely unexpected given Global Warming.

More bad news.

The headline makes it sound like a surprise…

But they did know where to look.
The article itself is reasonably well written. The RZSS have a long term plan for more than just this moth.

Today, his spirit is alive and well and his legacy lies in the joy of understanding things and celebrating nature, rather than thinking about its usefulness to humans. He also shows that, if you look closely enough, you may just find what you’re looking for.
This article is about Gilbert White & the return of some farmland to reflect GWs time in Selbourne.

Volunteers needed to test a new midge repellent. Anyone? Would you volunteer for eight hours of midge bites? - BBC News

I wouldn’t volunteer! Years ago when researching insect-bite repellants I came across Avon Skin So Soft (original) spray, recommended by Marines and in fact it seems to work on me. I can’t stand the smell of any stuff with Deet in it and I found it damaged my specs if it touched any part.
I haven’t used the Avon stuff anywhere but England but I would take it to Scotland to give it a go!
Sorry this is only indirectly connected to your interesting news link, Helen.

I came across skin so soft in Lochcarron many years ago. I was amused to learn that the marines were using it! I remember putting a light on at the window to attract moths (and getting some interesting ones) but the clouds of midges were something to behold. I went out to get any interesting moths I could and came back indoors as quickly as feasible.

I was surprised to read this : « Even if new breeding sites were found, emperors are superbly adapted to freezing conditions (they get heat stressed at about 0C.) «

insects at Arkaig

It is a good start and represents a lot of work, but he is probably not past a third of the way to a site total. Newborough Warren has over a thousand species just of beetles.

“The grand total to date is 946 invertebrate species made up of 869 flying insects.” Not sure what that means. It suggests he has more species than specimens. Perhaps “made up of” should say “including”.

You can get an idea by doing a species accumulation curve e.g.

Yes, or Chao’s Estimator. But there are caveats. You might estimate a total using one set of collecting methods but adopt a new method and your graph will get a new lease of life.

In fact, I’m wrong to suggest there is a total number of invertebrate species for the site. In theory, there is a total number of species at any one time, but in practice you can’t find out what that number is because you couldn’t record them all on one day. You couldn’t record all the adults in one day, plus on that day a large proportion of the species will be present only as eggs, larvae or pupae so unidentifiable. And as you put in more effort, time passes and species come and go. But it is satisfying to build up a long species list for a site.

And before someone says you just need to use environmental DNA, have a look at the latest edition of Latissimus, the Balfour-Browne Club newsletter. They compared eDNA results with pond netting for water beetles. The biochemistry recorded far fewer species, though interestingly, it often detected species not found by the pond netters.

Is that available online? I could not find it.

It is available here

Garth Foster asks if you have comparative data, please? He would be interested in seeing them.

I don’t have any eDNA vs other methods data for biodiversity but I suspect there are some. The report in Latissimus is very interesting. However I wonder if it is partly due to sampling/analysis methods, were the kits specific for water beetles or inverts or animals or all life, also an issue if all the other 80 species of beetles have suitable sequences registered so they could be identified.
Basically eDNA is opening up a new world but has to be treated carefully or can be misunderstood. The company who provided the kits do loads of talks encouraging people to use the method but I don’t know if they also put lots of effort into explaining the results and limitations.
In the world of fungi and soil invertebrates it is showing there are loads more species present than was thought but it can’t give you actual examples of the species to hold in your hand, only a fragment of dna which could have come from anywhere.
It would be interesting to do eDNA on that site I mentioned above with the very large number of fungi and compare with the actual specimens that have been found.