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The Society for the study of flies (Diptera)

Affiliated to the British Entomological and Natural History Society (BENHS)

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#1 2011-08-25 12:34:47

mattvernon
Registered user
Name: Array Array
Registered: 2011-08-25
Posts: 3

Suffolk Surveying- request for help

Hi All,

I'm a countryside officer working for a local authority in suffolk. We have a site with some excellent ancient oak pollards and dry acid grassland. I have been working on updating a managment plan for the site and have been looking at species records for the site and pulling the information together. We have a few RDB deadwood coleoptra and aculeate hymenoptera from previous surveys, but i'm keen to see if there is a good assemblage of dipterans which may be associated with such features.

I am hoping to secure the site with a SSSI notifaction as its current status does not offer it the protection i feel it deserves, especially with a relatively high pressure for development in the area. Additonal surveys may highlight the importance of the site and help notification.

Unfortunately budgets are pretty stripped at present, but i may be able to pull a small amount together. Basically I was hoping someone may be able to help us out here, as i have been unable to find a local dipterist.

Any help would be much appreciated.

Great forum by the way.

Matt

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#2 2011-08-28 01:02:29

falky
Registered user
Name: Steven Falk
From: Kenilworth
Registered: 2009-11-30
Posts: 410

Re: Suffolk Surveying- request for help

Matt,

Not easy to get new SSSIs notified using inverts these days, and recording saproxylic inverts associated with trees is not always that easy. But collections of old trees should be a strong factor for bringing about Local Wildlife Site/County WildlIfe Site/SINC designations (or whatever Suffolk calls them) just on their own, esp with the Woodland Trust's publicity work (the Ancient Tree Hunt, plus their long standing Ancient Tree Forum run by Gill Butler). In Warwickshire, we've mapped every veteran tree we can find onto GIS (keeps me busy in winter), and the largest specimens, plus clusters of old trees, are eligible for LWS designation, which means they constitute 'material consideration' within the planning system (following Planning polict Statement 9).

Have you spoken to your County Ecologist, local NE officer, any county tree officer or Suffolk Wildlife Trust. Are the trees covered by TPO? Do they fall within a former historic parkland? (this will score archaeological points). Do you know how old the trees are, or how significant they are at a county level? What about bat roosts there? If you can find scarce invert tahts great - but it is so much easier for a local to gather material than a non-local. Have to confess, I'm struggling to think of any Suffolk dipterists.

Good luck, Falky

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#3 2011-09-01 03:16:22

Roger Morris
DF Members
Name: Roger Morris
From: Stamford
Registered: 2008-02-08
Posts: 31

Re: Suffolk Surveying- request for help

I would agree with Steve.  Frankly there is very little point trying to get a site designated on grounds of invertebrates unless you can put in several years of work.  It sounds like a possible saproxylic site - as such it would have to be assessed against other existing candidates within the region.  I suspect this will be a long shot unless you have a very lengthy and well documented list.

On a broader front, it depends on the tree species as to the likely saproxylic interest.  Oaks - go for beetles, whilst beech would perhaps favour a mix of diptera and coleoptera.

Regards

Roger

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#4 2011-09-06 17:48:59

mattvernon
Registered user
Name: Array Array
Registered: 2011-08-25
Posts: 3

Re: Suffolk Surveying- request for help

Hi Guys,

Many thanks for your posts. Unfortunately "material consideration" does not count for a whole lot in the area i am in. i would need to count the county wildlife sites on both hands that have been built on for housing developments in the last few years. this site in particular is an LNR and CWS but it is still subject to a lot of innapriopariate devleopment due to local pressure, and one section has already been developed for housing even though a CWS.

I have tracked down a couple of possible surveyors so will continue to persue a survey. If nothing else it would be good to add to the species record for the site, and NE have suggested dipterans could be of intereset on the site.

thanks again

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#5 2011-09-06 17:51:32

mattvernon
Registered user
Name: Array Array
Registered: 2011-08-25
Posts: 3

Re: Suffolk Surveying- request for help

PS, given the governments latest determination to weaken the planning system to boost the housing sector, i suspect LNR and CWS status will be even less secure.   :-(

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#6 2011-09-07 00:19:04

falky
Registered user
Name: Steven Falk
From: Kenilworth
Registered: 2009-11-30
Posts: 410

Re: Suffolk Surveying- request for help

Hi Matt,   I hear what you are saying, and yes, the goverment's proposals to change the planning system are potentially very worrying given that developers are usually much better resourced to fight for proposals than the environemntal sector (many counties/cities and boroughs/districts do not even have a fully up-to-date listings of local wildlife sites in their systems).

But I really think you are on to a loser pushing for SSSI notification on the basis of what you have stated. In Warwickshire we have at least six sites that are already demonstrably of SSSI quality (i.e. nationally significant) on a whole range of criteria, but NE simply will not notify them even with all the data they need to hand.

But having said that we do defend many sites on the basis of LWS/SINC status. But it is usually down to the quality of existing data plus the tenacity of any county wildlife trust and local government ecologists. Developers often win because they fight hardest and dirtiest, but good local government ecologists can (in my experience) give them a good run for their money, esp if the local plan has been produced properly and has proper policies for protecting LWS and LNRs and maps zoning development versus nature conservation sites. If the plan has failed to do this, then that makes the fight so much harder, because planning applications tend to be strongly influenced by such plans. But is is unsual to see existing LNRS come under such threat. Is the local community fighting too? Also, be careful as you are a local government employee and may get into difficulty if you are seen to be lobbying openly on your own patch against your own planning department. Get others to do your fighting for you. I'm saying this as a local government employee of 21 years (and former city ecologist) who has got his fingers burnt a fair few times.

Good luck,

Falky

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#7 2011-09-10 21:00:06

Judy Webb
Committee
Name: Judith Webb
Registered: 2008-02-21
Posts: 411

Re: Suffolk Surveying- request for help

Matt

I'd just like to confirm what Steven says in that it is easier for local volunteers from outside the system to object and fight for the protection of a site than for you to do it.  I'm fighting 'from outside the system' for several sites here in Oxfordshire.  You need to drum up local help.  Is there a local tree group? If so get people out measuring and documenting each tree, many people care deeply about old trees, but not so much about the bugs in them.  Use this to work out possible tree ages. Is there a local historical society who could take on researching old maps to find the history of the site? 

On your pollard oak trees do you have bryophytes or lichens? - consider asking the national groups for help surveying these - there may be local bryologists or lichenologists who would like to survey.

On the fungal angle, have you had mycologists visit to check for any fungi? These could be deadwood species or mycorrhizal in the root zone around the trees (find your local fungus group and invite them to visit and foray). Acid grassland sounds like it might be a possible for waxcaps which will interest mycologists.  If no luck with a local group and there are fungi present, consider collecting them yourself and rearing flies from them then asking for help in ID.   I can give you advice on how to do this. Send photos of any fungi and I'll try and identify them. It is also worth rearing from deadwood fallen from the trees - even small dead twigs can have specific things breeding in them, also from wood mould from inside any rotholes you can reach into.

Also, regarding invertebrates, why not ask for permission to run a Bioblitz there next April-May, when deadwood species may be out and collectable from hawthorn flowers? (are there any hawthorns nearby?- if not they may be on cow parsley etc.). Put out an appeal through this website and others (BWARS, Coleopterists, Arachnologists etc. ) for people to come on the day and collect and name species.  It is important to check for the specific tree nesting ants Lasius brunneus (brown tree ant or bicoloured ant) and Lasius fuliginosus (jet ant) as these are keystone species. If they are nesting in the trees, a whole suite of rarer invertebrates may be associated with them - flies, beetles etc.

Or, get permission now to run interception traps hung in the old trees, especially next to rot-holes or clumps of bracket fungi. Now would be a good time for fungus gnats which might be breeding in fungi in the old trees - run for rest of September and October then again from April next year for other groups of flies such as dead wood hoverflies. Some Dipterists may be able to help with identifications of stuff in alcohol. Of course you can't run these traps if there is very much public access due to their susceptibility to vandalism. Also not in windy area - easily damaged.

Contact 'Buglife' and ask for help.  They may be able to offer further advice/help.
Good luck.
Judy

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