News from the CEDaR Team
19 February 2019
The Italians are coming!
The story of invasive organisms in Ireland repeatedly pops up. I led a CEDaR Workshop on alien introductions a couple of years back and since then news of new faunal acquisitions has increased steadily.
The latest arrival is an Italian millipede called Ophyiulus germanicus (don’t be confused by the name, it is north Italian, not German). This is a large black species masquerading as the ubiquitous white-legged millipede Tachypodoiulus niger. It is superficially very similar so you need to get out a hand lens and look at the tail. In the white-legged this is quite short and has a small upturned hook at the end. In Ophyiulus germanicus the tail is long and pointed not bent upwards. This species is also highly active. When picked up it whips about like a snake, twisting and turning until it escapes. Some other millipedes do this as well but not so violently. It grows to about 1½ inches (38 mm) and is one of the largest species found in Ireland. Favourite roosts are under dead wood and large stones, curled up in the soil, and it particularly favours disturbed woods, hedges, parks and gardens. The photos below show the whole animal and its tail in close-up.
Ophyiulus germanicus, Newtownbreda, tail inset.
It appears to have come from nowhere to being very common. The first confirmed records are for 2015, based on material in my collection but I first identified it in January of this year (2019) in my garden. Searching around Belfast it has turned up abundantly along the Lagan Valley as far as Lisburn, as well as at Cultra (CEDaR HQ!), Hillsborough and Peatlands Park. So, potentially very widespread but we have no idea when it first appeared here or how widespread it actually is. Anyone with information can contact me at email@example.com. For those requiring technical details of its appearance please consult Steve Gregory’s paper online at http://www.bmig.org.uk/view/resource/bmig-bulletin. Apart from the present note I haven’t published anything on it yet.
Tachypodoiulus niger, Newtownbreda, tail inset.
Three other north Italian millipedes have already naturalised here: Anamastigona pulchella, a small reddish species, starting in Delamont Country Park in 1992 and now widespread; Polydesmus asthenestatus a small flatback millipede, first found at Minnowburn west of Belfast in 2008 and spreading rapidly; Cylindroiulus apenninorum found in Dixon Park dump in 2017 and now moving slowly through the nearby Park. If you wish to learn more about these species visit the BMIG (British Myriapod and Isopod Group) website. A quick scan of this site will show just how many new millipedes have appeared in Britain and Ireland in recent years. A trend which is sure to continue but is very little understood.
22 October 2018
Carlingford Lough Marine BioBlitz
This October, CEDaR ran a marine Bioblitz weekend around the shores of Carlingford Lough. The outcome from the BioBlitz are summarized here.
Nestled between the Mourne Mountains to the north and the Cooley Mountains to the south, Carlingford Lough and its surroundings are enjoyed by many for its natural beauty, interesting archaeology and geology and also as a mecca for outdoor adventure sports. The rich biodiversity of the area is another draw and it is protected under a number of environmental designations, including the Carlingford Lough Marine Conservation Zone. As well as recreation, the lough also supports a range of commercial activity, but despite increasing uses and pressures, the ecological systems of the lough remain relatively ‘under-studied’ and for this reason, the idea for a BioBlitz event came about.
CEDaR support BioBlitz events throughout the year but it has been 5 years since the last Marine BioBlitz. The Carlingford Lough Marine BioBlitz brought together a group of environmental recorders, of all ages and backgrounds, with varied levels of experience and from both sides of the border to explore the flora and fauna around the lough. As well as connecting with the recording community and promoting marine recording, the purpose of the event was to fill evidence gaps and in doing so support environmental monitoring and management around the lough.
On Saturday 6th October 2018, 10 divers from SEASEARCH NORTHERN IRELAND (a citizen science project which utilises recreational scuba divers to collect data on underwater species and habitats) boarded the Louth Adventure’s RIBs from Greenore and headed out to the first dive site: ‘Buoy no. 9’. The visibility was remarkably good and a variety of sponges, crustaceans and fish were recorded, including the diver’s favourite, a Tompot blenny. The divers also observed butterfish displaying extraordinary breeding behaviours. Meanwhile, those of us at the surface were treated to gannets diving and a fleeting glimpse of harbour porpoises. During the second dive, off the shore at Greenore, sea squirts, anemones and echinoderms were
abundant and dazzling footage of swimming feather stars was captured. By the end of the day, 83 species records had been recorded by Seasearchers and meanwhile, marine experts and a team from COASTWATCH Ireland were already out exploring the shore and collecting information on intertidal species as well as the occurrence of litter.
Over 20 participants convened in Kilbroney Forest Park in the morning before braving the weather and dispersing, either to record seabirds and waders with Jen Lynch and Rasmus Pederson from BIRD WATCH IRELAND at Rostrevor Green or to join ULSTER WILDLIFE on guided ferry surveys to observe marine mammals.
Interesting sightings from Rostrevor Green included the Red-breasted merganser, the Great crested grebe, large numbers of Redshank and Oystercatcher and the endangered Curlew. In addition toabundant seabirds, the ferry surveyors counted 19 common seals, a protected species in Northern Ireland which can be found hauled out at a number of sites around Carlingford Lough.
In the afternoon, participants targeted the dropping tide, either moving onto Narrow Water Keep with Bird Watch Ireland, joining in on CoastWatch surveys or setting off independently to explore the shore for marine invertebrates, seaweeds, flowering plants or lichens, whilst also keeping an eye out for shark, skate or ray egg cases in the driftline to feed into the SEADEEP project.
Overall the Carlingford Lough Marine BioBlitz was a great success and a huge thanks goes to all those who played a role in organising, running or participating in the event. Across the whole weekend, a total of 257 species were recorded, covering 20 taxon groups and including 25 marine priority species, 7 invasive species and 8 species which had not been recorded in the lough previously. These records will make a valuable contribution to the future protection of this ecologically rich area. A full species list is provided below.
A full species list is provided below.The species list from the weekend is available here.
- 46 participants
- 257 species, including:
25 Northern Ireland Priority Species
7 Invasive Species
- First Northern Ireland record for the Spear-Leaved Orache
- First Carlingford Lough record for:
Mouse Ear Snail Myosotella denticulata
Encrusting sponge Myxilla fimbriata
Sea squirt Pyura microcosmus
Caloplaca thallincola (Lichen)
Collemopsidium foveolatum (Lichen)
Lecania turicensis (Lichen)
Opegrapha calcarea (Lichen)
- 2 dogfish egg cases
- 1 sighting of a red squirrel from Warrenpoint Wood, coinciding with the ‘marine’ Bioblitz!
Links for all the organisations and projects mentioned are listed here:
Seasearch Northern Ireland: http://www.seasearch.org.uk/
Coast Watch: http://coastwatch.org/europe/
CEDaR Online Recording: https://www2.habitas.org.uk/records/home
Sea Deep NI: https://www.seadeepni.org/about
THE CONSERVATION VOLUNTEERS: https://www.tcv.org.uk/
ULSTER WILDLIFE: https://www.ulsterwildlife.org/
BIRD WATCH IRELAND: https://www.birdwatchireland.ie/
15 August 2018
Divers contribute to monitoring marine litter
Monitoring marine litter is vital for identifying its source and tackling the problem. We have analysed litter records collected by Seasearch divers to assess how this previously untapped dataset might provide additional information to support research.
You can read the full report here: Seasearch Marine Litter Records 2018 (pdf 2.29mb)
For more details contact Sally Stewart-Moore firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo Credit: Phil Wilkinson
1 May 2018
National Plant Monitoring Scheme
Volunteers are being sought to monitor wild flower and plant populations across Northern Ireland.
The National Plant Monitoring Scheme is an important UK-wide survey to assess habitats and ecosystems, as well as species and diversity.
We generally have a good understanding of changes in the populations of birds, butterflies and bats. However, plants are the foundation of habitats and ecosystems, yet currently we do not have a good measure of changes in plant populations across the country.
CEDaR and NIEA are joining forces to roll out this initiative in Northern Ireland. All the information you need to take part in this monitoring scheme will be provided and you will be guided through the process.
For more details, and to find out which squares are available near you, log on to the National Plant Monitoring Scheme website or contact email@example.com