Tuesday, 24 April 2018

A Wildlife Hero

One of our local wildlife heroes has spent days sorting through a giant dungheap in Leicestershire. But this isn't any old dungheap, oh no, this is a very special dungheap. Most cattle these days are treated with a wide variety of drugs, including antibiotics but also a range of powerful and persistent anti-parasitic compounds. There are arguments to be made around animal welfare, but the effect of these drugs mean that dungheaps are almost devoid of their traditional fauna - the good guys get wiped out alongside the parasites. And of course that means less food for birds and bats. But this dung heap was produced by one of the tenant farmers of the Wildlife Trust*, and under their guidance very few drugs are used on this farm. And it "only" takes someone with good knowledge to sort through the dungheap to see the results. So far, the Wonderheap has produced several new county first beetle records. And of course, there are springtails in there too which they were kind enough to pass on to me for identification.

The predominant species was Pogonognathellus longicornis, with good numbers present. Also abundant were Isotoma viridis:

Isotoma viridis

and Isotomurus pseudopalustris:

Isotomurus pseudopalustris

Isotomurus pseudopalustris

I've never sampled dungheaps for springtails, but I'll have to get around to it at some point. In the meantime, I'm grateful to the heroes who do.

* To be accurate, produced by his cows :-)

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