Where've you been for the last 45 years!?

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Friday, 7 June 2013 20:57

On Wednesday I had a fantastic day at Iping Common with our new Voluntary Trainee Ecologist, Shaun Pryor. I am setting up a new invertebrate survey of bare ground, which originally stemmed from the Heath Tiger Beetle release project there. There are many purpose made scrapes, created using a turf-stripper, that produce bare ground that many species require. However, it soon became clear that we don't know all that much about what uses these scrapes. And what scrapes are valued (location, size, age etc etc). So we have mapped them and are putting together a list of 'bare ground species' that can be surveyed. By the end of the summer I will have species lists for each of the scrapes and using GIS can look for patterns across the site. It will also help us decide where next winter's scrapes go.

After a long but excellent day we had recorded Heath Tiger Beetles on six different scrapes. A nice surprise was the awesome jumping spider Aelurillus v-insignitis which we found on about five different scrapes. I also recorded two more Anisodactylus nemorivagus (one of which I netted in mid air) but there were very few other carabids. Xerolycosa nemoralis (yet another nationally scarce spider) was abundant on the scrapes and a single female Alopecosa barbipes was recorded. Aculeates were very thin on the ground, with only Sphecodes sp. being common and a single Nomada sp. However, it was the tiny (3mm) jumping spider above that stole the show. Talavera petrensis has not been recorded in Sussex since 1968. It was recorded at Iping and was also known from Ambersham at the same time. We recorded two males on two different scrapes. Despite the size, it's highly distinctive with bright red hairs around the eye and black and white palps. So where has it been for the last 45 years? The answer, right there. It's just that it's easy to get missed when you're 3 mm long and with the exception of the survey we carried out last year, not that many people have been looking! What will we find out there next month?

I just hit 4300 species today.

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