Hymettus helps to refind the Midas Tree Weaver spider at Sherwood
Hymettus has been involved in the rediscovery of the Midas Tree Weaver spider Midia midas in an ancient tree at Sherwood Forest NNR. This tiny money spider is listed as Vulnerable (RDB2) on the Spider Recording Scheme’s website and is a species of principal importance to nature conservation in England being included on Schedule 41 of the NERC Act 2006. NNR staff and volunteers who had attended a training session organized by Hymettus and delivered by Lawrence Bee of the British Arachnological Society have collected a single specimen of the spider to date. With funding from Natural England, earlier in the year Hymettus contracted Tony-Russell Smith to devise a survey protocol that could be implemented by volunteers. This involved siting pitfall traps at 3-4m heights in the veteran trees and then sorting through the invertebrate soup that was collected after a couple of weeks. The volunteers picked out potential Midia spiders for Lawrence to look at more closely. He confirmed the identification of the female spider in a sample collected on 23rd June 2014. When informed of the success, Country Park Manager and Forest Warden Izi Banton commented ‘That’s amazing news! …. I know the sampling team will be thrilled".
|Red Listing our threatened invertebrates
A review of the Diplopoda, Chilopoda and Isopoda of Great Britain assesses the conservation status of centipedes, millipedes, woodlice and waterlice and identifies the species found in the UK that are considered to be ‘vulnerable’, ‘endangered’ or ‘critically endangered’. It also officially assigns Nationally Rare and Nationally Scarce status to species for the first time.
Paul Lee, Research Co-ordinator of Hymettus, who undertook the review, said: “This is the first time we have had a comprehensive assessment of the importantance of these often overlooked groups and is testament to the vital contribution the volunteer recorders of the British Myriapod and Isopod Group make to nature conservation in Britain”.
Natural England project manager, Jon Webb, said: “These small animals are often overlooked but they have evolved to fill an important ecological function that we take for granted. They are fundamental parts of the food web that supports other life and are also excellent indicators of the health of our natural habitats.
“They are also important in their own right, being fascinating creatures with a biology and ecology alien to us. We need to be their custodians and endure that they are not lost on our watch. Natural England supports the production of this kind of review which helps disseminate a wide range of datasets that help to increase understanding of biodiversity and can lead to further research and innovation.”
These groups of minibeasts are highly sensitive to their environment and are regarded as excellent indicators of the health of the natural environment.
The production of this report was managed by Hymettus on behalf of Natural England. The report was authored by Paul Lee with the support of members of the British Myriapod and Isopod Group.
Photo: Polyzonium germanicum - Paul Richards