Thursday 9 January 2014
The beetle Agonum sexpunctatum (it doesn’t have a common name) is so rare in Britain that it caused some excitement when it was identified by experts at the University Natural History Museum in Oxford.
Other rare invertebrates found by the volunteers include a jumping spider, a stone centipede and a woodlouse. Katy Dunn, Moorend Common’s voluntary warden, said “We knew the common was home to lots of special plants and animals, but it’s amazing what you find when you look. We’re delighted. Now we know what’s living here, we’ll make sure we maintain the conditions the beetle thrives in.”
The survey was led by Oxfordshire entomologist Lawrence Bee. Under his supervision, volunteers set up 16 pitfall traps on the common in May and emptied them every two weeks until September. Since then experts have identified the species caught.
To better understand the commons, the Chilterns Commons Project has funded a range of surveys including geological surveys, surveys of landscape archaeological features, botanical surveys, pond surveys and invertebrate surveys.
As well as nationally rare species, the surveys have revealed species new to that site or the county, all of which is highly motivational for the volunteer surveyors. Some species surveys are being repeated during the Commons Project to see if trends can be identified, or if changes in local conditions affect species abundance or distribution.