Sunday 25 June 2017

Environmentalists hail conservation estate 'lost world'

The knotty shining claw pseudoscorpion (PA/Trees for Life)
The knotty shining claw pseudoscorpion (PA/Trees for Life)

A host of rare species have been discovered after a survey of a conservation estate which environmentalists described as a "lost world".

Researchers from environmental charity Trees for Life found 11 rare species at Dundreggan conservation estate near Loch Ness in the Highlands.

They include a midge never recorded in the UK before, which environmentalists said underlines the site's reputation as a "lost world" for biodiversity.

The non-biting insect (Chironomus vallenduuki) was discovered by entomologist Peter Chandler and adds to the number of finds at the Glenmoriston estate.

Other findings during the charity's 2016 survey season included two rare gnats whose larvae feed on fungi.

One of these (Sciophila varia) is only known from four other UK sites while the other (Mycomya nigricornis) is only known from a handful of Scottish sites and had not been seen since 1990.

Alan Watson Featherstone, founder of Trees for Life, described the area as a "lost world" of biodiversity.

He said: "Dundreggan is a special part of the Caledonian Forest that keeps on revealing beautiful, interesting and rare species.

"The surprisingly rich wealth of life in this corner of the Highlands highlights the importance of concerted conservation action to protect and restore Scotland's wild places."

Two parasitic wasps (Homotropus pallipes and Diphyus salicatorius) were also discovered and for the first time in Scotland a pseudoscorpion called the knotty shining claw (Lamprochernes nodosus).

A micro-moth - the small barred longhorn (Adela croesella) - only documented at three other Scottish locations was found by volunteer Richard Davidson.

He had been taking part in one of the charity's volunteer conservation weeks when he found the moth.

More than 3,300 species have now been recorded at the forest restoration site. At least 68 of these are priority species for conservation.

In recent years these have included three sawflies, an aphid, two aphid parasitoids, three fungus gnats and a rare mite.

Mr Featherstone added: "Our latest discoveries add to an already-remarkable range of rare and endangered species found at Dundreggan - some of which were previously unknown in the UK or Scotland, or which were feared to be extinct."

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