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Posts Tagged ‘entomology’

Do butterflies migrate and if they do how long distances are they able to cover? How many British Lepidoptera species do migrate to the country? Why do butterflies and moths migrate? These and other questions related to migratory species of Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) were discussed with an expert, Prof Laurence Cook of the University of Manchester (Manchester, UK).

The interview is presented here in two parts.

Watch interview, part one:

Watch interview, part two:

You can find useful information about two British migrant species (Painted lady and Humming-bird Hawk-moth) and the initiative ‘Migrant Watch’ online on the Butterfly Conservation site, here.

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In recent years, an increasing concern has been caused by the decline of butterflies in Britain. Almost half of the 59 resident species have reduced their ranges over the last 150 years, and five species have become extinct: Black-veined White (Aporia crataegi; c. 1925); Large Copper (Lycaena dispar, c. 1851); Mazarine Blue (Cyaniris semiargus, c. 1903); Large Blue (Maculinea arion, c. 1979); and Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros, 1980s?). Many of the remaining butterfly species continue to decline nationally or even have become extinct locally on many sites. One of such species is the Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus), which is scarce elsewhere in the UK with a high extinction rate (evaluated as 25%): i.e., the species no longer occurs in about a quarter of the localities from where it was recorded in the 1970s. In the UK, this species declined most severely from 1950 to 1980, but with relatively few extinctions occurring between 1980 and 1985 (data by Warren, 1993, for Central Southern Britain).

The main reason for extinction/declining of this and other butterfly species in the UK is a combination of habitat loss and fragmentation/isolation, and changes in habitat management (especially, in Forestry Commission and Public Authority sites). Butterflies are known to be highly sensitive to environmental changes and therefore they often decline whilst their larval food-plants are still widespread and abundant. However, any changes in butterfly populations are to be seen as early indicators of habitat changes that in the future will affect many other wildlife groups.

The Silver-studded Blue is more usually associated with heathland habitats, and a number of regional nature reserves have been specifically established to protect it. One of such sites is the Prees Heath Common Reserve (Shropshire), the last sanctuary for the Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus) in the Midlands.

Stephen Lewis, Officer at the Prees Heath Reserve, visited the Manchester Museum on 19/12/2014 in order to study historical records of the Silver-studded Blue from the Midlands on the basis of museum specimens.  He also gave us a short interview about the conservation of the Silver-studded Blue in Shropshire (see below).

A more complete story of the Silver-studded Blue butterfly at the Prees Heath Common Reserve presented by Stephen Lewis can be seen in the following short video.

If you are interested in British Butterfly Conservation (the British Butterfly Conservation Society) and their currently formulated strategy for British butterflies please visit the society’s site.

Further reading:

Warren, M.S. 1993. A review of butterfly conservation in Central Southern Britain: I. Protection, evaluation and extinction on prime sites. – Biological Conservation, 64, 25-35; pdf-file online.

Warren M.S., Barnett L.K., Gibbons D.W. & Avery M.I. 1997. Assessing national conservation priorities: an improved red list of British butterflies. – Biological Conservation, 82: 317-328; pdf-file online.

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A new photographic exhibition devoted to complex interrelations of humans and neotropical nature has been opened on the 3rd floor of the Manchester Museum. A brief Summary of the exhibition is given below:

The Ecuadorian Amazon is one of the most endangered regions of our planet. Many people want to protect the biodiversity that remains, but the reality on the ground is a complex dilemma. Economic necessity means that trees are valued for their timber more than for their crucial role in the ecosystem. Scientist and photographer Johan Oldekop, who was originally trained as a biologist at the University of Manchester (UK), studied the complex interaction between social and conservation issues in Ecuador during 2006-2011. As a scientist, Johan is interested in the socio-economic factors and land-use in indigenous Kichwa communities and their effect on the biodiversity of Ecuadorian Amazon. This exhibition presents his findings through his own stunning photographs combined with specimens from the Manchester Museum’s entomology and botany collections.

The exhibition will be opened until the beginning of June, 2013. Everyone is welcome!

Here are a few shots taken just after the opening of this exhibition.

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Dr Dmitri Logunov of Manchester Museum has been working closely with Tracy Hurst, a Visual Arts student at Salford University. She is creating a piece of artwork focussing on self portraits. However, these are not paintings or drawings.

Tracy invites people, curators, artists, students and complete strangers to chew a piece of bubbly gum. She  takes the chewed gum and creates stone plaster versions. Each piece of sculpture is classified using the three label system employed by entomologists. The pieces are then pinned into a wooden collectors case.

Each specimen has a latin name created for them, in Dr Dmitri Logunov’s case it is, ‘dimitri-vir ingenious de cimex,’ his Accession Lot Number is, F3313, the locality is ‘Manchester Museum’ and the habitat is classed as ‘Naphthalene’.

The specimen taken from Tracy's Tutor at Salford University

The  work is still in progress but will be available to be viewed by the public at Salford University from 3rd June 2010.

Dmitri is unwrapping the gum.

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Elephant Beetle (Megasoma elephas) is a large striking beetle, belonging to the scarab family and originating from the lowland rainforests in Central and South America. Beetles range between 70-120mm long (or over). The males are usually two/three times bigger than females and their weight can exceed 50-70g.

This is 35 times bigger than the weight of the smallest known mammal, Thailand’s bumblebee bat, which is 11mm long and about 2 grams weight.

The Elephant Beetle males have the large, graceful horns, protruding from their heads, like a trunk of the elephant (this is why their name). The males’ horns purpose is to fight other males for feeding or breeding sites.

Elephant Beetle’s larvae develop in large decaying logs and take up to four years to develop into an adult beetle. The life span of an adult beetle is around four months. Habitat destruction by the man, particularly clear-cutting when large trees are removed, is the main threat to this beetle in nature.

The photographed male is just one specimen from the large Manchester Museum’s collection of scarab beetles, numbering over 3,000 species.

The large male of the Elephant Beetle; it may take up to 4 years to reach maturity.

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