DERC Newsletter

No. 48 Autumn / Winter 2002

In this issue:

Regular readers of our printed newsletter may be surprised to see our sudden conversion to full colour. We hope that our inclusion within the Dorset Wildlife Trustís newsletter will not only allow us to include colour illustrations, but will also encourage a more readers to contribute to DERC.

We are currently involved in several large projects (some discussed in more detail below) which can generate a huge amount of data. However, the base rock of DERC has always been our work with local recorders. Whether it is birds, bats or weevils, if you are an otter seeker or a butterfly walker the information you are collecting can all add to our greater knowledge of the county. DERC holds the central database for this information, linked to the other recording groups within the county. And we are one of the first places for enquiries about sites, whether for development or for reserve status. We cannot provide information if we do not hold it.

DERC also answer queries about species, where can they be found? Are they increasing or decreasing? Which is why it doesnít matter if you only ever record the birds and butterflies in your own back garden Ė that information is still important to us.

If you would like to add your records to DERC please ensure they include your name and contact address, species, dates and site information. The deadline for this yearís records is 31st January 2003. Thank you to those who have already contributed.

Carolyn Steele (Record Centre Manager)

Workshops 2002

Thanks to everyone involved in the DERC summer workshops. The most popular was the Bat Evening at Kingston Maurward run by John Stobart and Imogen Davenport, assisted by Maureen Keats and Toby Hammond. With such a good turnout we all hoped the bats would take their cue, and they did. Bandit and Soprano Pipestrelle, Serotineís and a Daubenton were all seen

Phil Sterling and John Hunnisett ran an invertebrate day on Portland scrub. Despite unpromising weather the notable Six-belted Clearwing (Bembecia scopigera) was found plus the case from Eudarcia richardsoni, a rare endemic moth found only in Dorset.

Maria Pegoraro and Peter Tinsley took us on an interesting look at the inter-tidal zone at Kimmeridge and Nick Button ran a workshop on the hedgerows of West Dorset.

Professor Good's Dorset Botanical Archive

Good's Stands

Some of Goodís stands (red) overlayed with DWT Reserves (yellow)

(click on the map for larger picture)

This three year project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund is now complete. 285,864 species records from Prof. Goodís 1930s hand-written diaries have been added to the DERC database together with information on each site. The work provides an invaluable resource for looking at species distribution in the county (then and now).

The information on each site (or stand of vegetation) was originally marked on a set of maps. But this data is now available as a layer on the DERC Geographical Information System and can be viewed over present-day maps showing, for example, Dorset Wildlife Trust Reserves, Sites of Nature Conservation Interest or Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

The purpose of this project was to make the information available digitally, so that it can be used more effectively by other organisations and individuals.

The dataset includes species lists from common habitats such as woodlands and pastures but also the less frequently surveyed habitats including arable fields and walls. DERC is currently using the archive to assess the changes in hedgebanks over the intervening years. Good recorded over 1500 hedgebanks across the county, and (with funding from DEFRA) I have spent the spring and summer revisiting some of these hedgebanks to record their current flora. We hope to bring you the result in our next issue.

Nick Button (DERC Surveyor)

Information on which species Good recorded can be found in The Data Set.

The Dorset Central Marine Database

Trigger Fish

Trigger Fish

Photo: Richard Edmonds

Since the Dorset Central Marine Database came to DERC last summer there has been a steady flow of inputting I began work for DERC in December and aside from data input I am now busy establishing data exchange agreements with a number of local and national organisations. Of particular note are the Conchological Society of Great Britain & Ireland, which holds numerous marine mollusc records for Dorsetís waters; and the UK Marine Fish Recording scheme, which holds information on the distribution and occurrence of marine fish from Dorset and the whole of the UK. On a more local level, data agreements have now been established with Durlston Marine Project and Dorset Seasearch to ensure that all future records are included on the DCMD.

With over 18,000 species records currently on the marine database, the backlog of paper records is steadily decreasing. But if you or your organisation hold any further marine species records for Dorset that you would like included on the DCMD, then please contact Maria on 01305 228518.

Maria Pegoraro (Marine Database Officer)

Mariaís post has been sponsored by Dorset County Council, The Environment Agency, English Nature, SCOPAC and QinetiQ.

More details can be found in the Dorset Marine Biodiversity Database project.

The Black Bog Ant is doing rather well!!!

The black bog ant Formica candida is listed as an RDB 1 species and a Priority Species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

In recent years much work has been undertaken to assess the status and ecology of F. candida. Its current known distribution is in The New Forest, Dorset Heaths and a couple of heaths in Wales. After several years research and site searching it would be reasonable to suggest that the status of F. candida is better now than at any time. And for once it is good news.

I first got involved with the species whilst I worked in the New Forest and between 1999 and 2001 increased the known sites from around 9 to 23. In Dorset it was thought to occur at a handful of sites with Hartland Moor being of particular significance. Survey work and searches by a number of individuals (Andy Abbot, Bryan Edwards & Myself) have recently revealed that it is far more widespread than previously thought. The key site is still probably Hartland with more colonies still turning up. But it now occurs at Higher Hyde heath, Upton Heath, Oakers Bog, Slop Bog, Godlingston Heath and Holme Lane near Stoborough. Almost certainly it will be found on other heathlands elsewhere in the county.

Although this is good news undoubtedly F.candida will have been lost from the Dorset Heaths due to habitat destruction, forestry, drainage and habitat neglect. All we have to do now is safeguard and properly manage those sites for the future. Now thereís a challenge!

Sean Cooch