DERC Newsletter

No. 55 Spring 2006

In this issue:

DERC celebrates its 30th anniversary this year – quite an achievement considering our humble beginnings and the continual battle for funding which we have faced. We have had constant support from many individuals and organisations, especially our trustees. So a big thank-you to our trustees at Dorset Wildlife Trust, Dorset County Council, Dorset Natural History & Archaeological Society and English Nature who have been particularly important in helping DERC to continue to survive and flourish. These organisations are represented on our Management Panel and oversee the work of the Records Centre, offering advice and guidance as needed.

2006 is going to be another busy year for the Records Centre but we are planning a special event to mark our anniversary so keep an eye on this web-site for details.

Carolyn Steele (Record Centre Manager)

New Plant Red List

2005 saw a long awaited review of the vascular plant Red Data list. For the first time all plant species were assessed against the IUCN criteria using information gathered under the Atlas 2000 project. The results have been published and can be downloaded from the JNCC Website.

Analysis of the list shows that in Dorset four species are listed as Critically Endangered, 18 as Endangered and 46 as Vulnerable. Arable weeds figure highly in the list and as a group are poorly represented in protected sites such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest. There are a number of surprises such as White Helleborine Cephalanthera damasonium, Frog Orchid Coeloglossum viride and Dodder Cuscuta epithymum all listed as Vulnerable having undergone significant National declines. Hybrids have also been included in the list for the first time with Dorset supporting important populations of three hybrid Pondweeds and the only known British site for Drosera x belezeana (D. intermedia x rotundifolia).

Another interesting development is a list of species for which Britain supports 25% of the European population. Among these International Responsibility species are some that are widespread in Dorset such as Pignut Conopodium majus, Meadow Thistle Cirsium dissectum, Marsh St John’s-wort Hypericum elodes and Climbing Corydalis Ceratocapnos claviculata.

Corn Marigold (Chrysanthemum segetum)

Corn Marigold (Chrysanthemum segetum)

Photo: Bryan Edwards


Dorset specialities on previous Red Lists such as Dorset Heath Erica ciliaris and Early Spider-orchid Ophrys sphegodes have not been assigned to a threat category largely because their populations are stable and they mainly occur in protected sites with favourable management.

The changes to the list mean that 20 species have been added to the Dorset Rare Plant Register list. A quick glance at the DERC records shows that some of these species are under-recorded particularly since 1990, therefore we would welcome records for the following species:

  • Cephalanthera damasonium White Helleborine
  • Chrysanthemum segetum Corn Marigold
  • Coeloglossum viride Frog Orchid
  • Cuscuta epithymum Dodder
  • Cynoglossum officinale Hound’s-tongue
  • Hyoscyamus niger Henbane
  • Misopates orontium Weasel’s Snout
  • Spiranthes spiralis Autumn Lady’s-tresses

Bryan Edwards and David Pearman

Database News

The Dorset Marine Biodiversity Database now holds over 39,000 marine records, but please continue to pass on your data to DERC, no matter how minor you may think your record is. The Marine Database Officer is very interested in assisting in any marine-related projects and research in Dorset – so please let us know about any new or ongoing work. DERC are currently looking for volunteers who wish to gain experience of data input, to add archive marine records to our database. If you are interested, call the DERC office. 

Terrestrial data. During 2005 we had to halt data input onto Recorder whilst we changed our database programme. The transfer of terrestrial data to Recorder 6 is now complete and we shall be testing the new system in the next few months. Much of the data sent to DERC in the interim is now ready for transfer to the new system. 

Invertebrate Update

Andrena flavipes on Coltsfoot

Andrena flavipes on Coltsfoot

Photo: Bryan Edwards

During the summer of 2005 Bryan Edwards and I spent 15 days surveying five representative soft cliff sites along the Dorset coast. These locations were St Gabriels, Eype Mouth, White Nothe, Worbarrow and Chapmans Pool, and together formed part of a three year project by Buglife to assess the importance of this type of habitat for invertebrates. Although the weather conditions in the early part of the year were not conducive to collecting and recording, by the end of August we had gathered a large amount of specimens and mapped out specific areas of habitat in which they were found. 

The winter has been spent identifying the specimens and attempting to form some idea of possible invertebrate communities related to the various habitats. To date over 700 species have been named of which 83 are regarded as having a nationally scarce or RDB status. There are also over 160 species that are regarded as local to a particular habitat or plant community. It is this second group that could prove to be the most interesting from the soft cliffs environment aspect.

A breakdown of the species recorded indicate there is good cross section of all orders with 180 flies, 100 hymenoptera and 170 beetles being the main groups. The hymenoptera are of particular interest in that over 20% of those recorded are of notable or RDB status, indicating the importance of soft cliffs to this order.

Following the successful recording of Roesel’s Bush-cricket for the first time in Dorset last year we can now report a further exciting find that took place last October, again by Mike Skelton. Whilst walking on the undercliff at Canford Cliffs he found a perfect male Large Conehead (Ruspolia nitudula). With the wings extending well beyond the hind knees and a body length of 20 – 29 mm exceeding the size of the other two coneheads found in Dorset, it is an unmistakable bush-cricket. 

The recorded distribution for this species is southern Europe including most of France and southern Germany. This appears to be the first record of this species from mainland Britain, the only other British record is from the Isles of Scilly in 2003.

John Hunnisett

DERC Summer Workshops 2006

Each year DERC run a series of workshops to encourage recording within the county. The new programme of Summer Workshops for 2006 has been finalised and can be found on our Workshops page.

If you are interested, please book in advance as places are limited. Alterations to the programme may be necessary and final details are sent out before each workshop. There is a small charge (£10) for each place to help cover administration costs (£5 concession to regular recorders who send their records in to DERC). Any additional workshops will be advertised on our Workshops page, so be sure to check there regularly.