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Zoology grad Sam finds 315 new species by loch.

Byline: ALASTAIR MCNEILL

A volunteer at RSPB Scotland's Loch Lomond reserve has uncovered 315 new species there including a wasp that has never been recorded in Scotland before.

Sam Buckton, a recent zoology graduate from the University of Cambridge, had originally set himself the challenge of finding and recording 250 new species for the reserve this summer.

But after breaking that target it has been upped to 500.

Some of the species Sam has discovered are scarce in Scotland, at least one is a first for the area, and many have never been recorded on any of the RSPB's 200 nature reserves before anywhere in the UK.

Sam said: "RSPB Scotland's Loch Lomond reserve was acquired relatively recently - in 2012 - so we still have much to learn about the species that call it home.

"Although the birds and plants on site are well-studied, other groups - particularly invertebrates - are relatively unknown.

"As a large site with a wide array of habitats, Loch Lomond is likely to harbour a huge diversity of species, and the truth is, I've just been scratching the surface with my surveys.

"Most of the new species I've recorded are insects, which are often small and easily overlooked, but I've also found other invertebrates such as gall mites, mosses, liverworts, lichens, parasitic fungi and flowering plants - even large trees.

"Two of my favourite discoveries so far have been the strikingly coloured ichneumonid wasp Ichneumon stramentor (the first known record for Scotland) and a moth called Brussels lace, an uncommon species which has been confirmed as a county first.

"This challenge has brought home to me the biodiversity that RSPB reserves such as Loch Lomond provide a haven for, and it's also been a lot of fun. I'm excited to know what else is out there waiting to be discovered. Five hundred species, here we come."

Many species, particularly invertebrates, are under-recorded across the UK, but even common wildlife is regularly overlooked.

This means that dramatic declines, such as those seen in recent years with house sparrows and bumblebees, can take time to come to light.

RSPB Scotland Loch Lomond site manager Paula Baker said: "We know that this reserve is a particularly special site for wildlife, not just birds, but across the board. We've already uncovered a few rarities through the years, such as spotted crake and the great otter spider, but the more records we have the better, even of relatively common species. I think Sam's remarkable, and we actually can't put a value on his work. Having records like these will not only help us to manage the reserve better, but also give us a baseline, allowing us to monitor species to see how they're being affected by issues such as climate change."

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Unique Wasp found by Sam had never been recorded in Scotland before

On the hunt Sam Buckton volunteering at Loch Lomond RSPB reserve

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Publication:Stirling Observer (Stirling, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 26, 2019
Words:482
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