DERC Newsletter

No. 44 Winter 1999 / Spring 2000


In this issue:

Over the last few months, DERC seems to have been in a continual state of flux. Nick Button has begun work on Professor Good's Botanical Archive (supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund). Alison Stewart (Computer Officer) has left on maternity leave and her post is being covered by Philip Harvell. Meanwhile, we have moved offices once again. Despite all the disruption we have settled into our new accommodation, on top of the library in Dorchester, and seem to be busier than ever.

Gad Cliff

Gad Cliff

Philip has taken on the creation of our first DERC web-site. It will include an introduction to DERC, up-dates on projects and articles on species and habitats. We would be very interested to hear your views, what other information would you find useful? How can we use the web to encourage recording in Dorset? Please let us know.

And finally, if you have not yet sent in your records for 1999, please do. As always we rely on your input to keep our information as up-to-date as possible. Records can be sent, e-mailed or recorders are welcome to visit the office (and see the new technology). The dates for our first workshops have been set, and we hope to see many of you there.

Carolyn Steele (Record Centre Manager)

Stag Beetle Update

Stag Beetle

Stag Beetle

Drawing: Robin Walls

Last year both DERC and The Dorset Wildlife Trust asked you to be on the lookout for that most distinctive of beetles the Stag beetle. All your sightings were forwarded to the organisers of the National Stag Beetle Survey and have been used to create a preliminary distribution map. The results shows that the main centres for this beetle are Greater London (3,068 records), Surrey (1,425 records) and Hampshire (1,042 records). There were 571 sightings reported from Dorset, a total which establishes us as one of the top ten counties. The majority of the sightings were in the south east of the county with only a few scattered sites to the west. If anyone has seen the beetle, particularly in the west but has not reported it please can you send the location and date to DERC so that the final map gives a true indication of its distribution. The final results will be shown on our web-site this summer. At the moment we know of a number of veteran tree sites in Dorset plus c.40 other trees in hedges or standing in small groups. According to the distribution map most of these trees are found in North and West Dorset, with scattered specimens elsewhere.

A New Record For Dorset

The flora of Dorset has been well documented and the discovery of new county species, other than aliens (usually garden escapes) is now quite unusual. This however is not the case for invertebrates. Other than butterflies, moths, dragonflies and hoverflies the fauna has not been well documented and records are scattered throughout the country and literature. Because of this, new county records are difficult to substantiate. However one new species of fly can be reported with confidence. Campsicnemus umbripennis hispanicus Strobl (Dolichopididae) was found by a member of the Dipterist Forum Field Meeting in 1998 at Spittles near Lyme Regis. This species is not only new to Dorset but also new to the British Isles, its previous known range being Spain, the French Pyrenees and Portugal.

Wasp Spider Makes The News

Agriope bruennichi

Agriope bruennichi

Readers of the Dorset Evening Echo will remember that on the 7th September the front page carried an excellent picture of the wasp spider Agriope bruennichi together will the headline 'New foreign invasion'. Whilst it is good to see that occasionally invertebrates can be front page news it is a pity that the text did not give a true representation of the facts i.e. that the spider is relatively common in Dorset with well over 150 sightings mainly from the east of the county (see distribution map in Newsletter No 43) and that the first known record from Dorset is for Southbourne in 1940, hardly a new invader. Thank you to everyone who has sent in new records of this spectacular spider.

New Dorset Flora

Flora of Dorset

Flora of Dorset

Humphrey Bowen

An entirely new Flora of Dorset by Humphry Bowen is due to appear early summer of 2000. In addition to full notes on the flowering plants and ferns, it will include up-to-date check-lists, with localities for rarer species of bryophytes, lichens, fungi, charophytes and marine algae. Earlier chapters by local experts cover physical features of Dorset, vegetation, human effects and early Dorset botanists. Illustrations include 800 tetrad maps, sketches by Anita Pearman and many colour pictures.

The hardback flora will cost about 40 with a 25% reduction for pre-publication orders from the publishers:

The Nature Conservation Bureau, 35 Kingfisher Court, Hambridge Road, Newbury RG14 5SJ.