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Journal of Insect Conservation

Review Page

"Journal of Insect Conservation"
ISSN = 1366-138X

This is a peer-reviewed journal published by
Chapman and Hall

in association with the
Butterfly Conservation Society.

being made electronically available to subscribers by
Thomson Science


General Info

Vol 1 :- No 1; No 2; No 3; No 4

Vol 2 :- No 1;

Vol 1 No 1

At a time when the heads of state are meeting for the 2nd Biodiversity Summit, and when the news from the Endangered species Convention in Zimbabwe is dominated by vertebrates it is good to see the publication of a journal devoted entirely to the conservation of a group of invertebrates, namely the insects. This first issue is, perhaps predictable, because of the role Butterfly Conservation have played in getting it off the ground dominated by the lepidoptera, it is also rather thin but that should remedy with time.

Terrence New starts the ball rolling by asking the pertinent question; "Are Lepidoptera an effective umbrella group for biodiversity conservation ?" The article is a lucid and well written account of the present state of this argument, as would be expected from this well known author, and perhaps predictably, given how little we really know about entomological ecology he comes to the conclusion that what we really need is more information, though the current evidence is looking favorable.

The 2nd paper by Ellingsen, Beinlich and Plachter is a report on the effects of grazing on two butterflies in the Eastern Carpathian Mountains. It describes the reasons behind the loss of traditional grasslands and their diversity, though rather disappointingly failing to take up the discussion on wildlife gardening. It is an interesting point that while the maintenance of large tracts of climax vegetation is a major part of Tropical conservation, in Europe conservation of species diversity often necessitates preventing the return of climax woodland. The habitat preferences for the two species studied are outlined with a view to future habitat management.

Paper 3 starts off well discussing insects in general as monitors of habitat health. Table 1 presents data on the suitability 25 insect groups, of various sizes ranging from supra-ordinal to familial, as indicator species/groups. Though the table is obviously a useful source of initial data, I was surprised to see that soil structure was not considered important for Collembola and personally I would like to have seen an assessment of the Syrphidae within the Diptera. Unfortunately the only real discussion is on Neotropical butterflies and as interesting as this aspect of the paper was I was left with the feeling that the 'assessment of various other insect groups was an added appendage to what was really a paper about Neotropical butterflies as indicators of diversity during forest regeneration.

The final paper is an interesting discussion by Roger Dennis on the interactions between taxonomy and conservation relating particularly to European butterflies. As improved monitoring, the elevation of subspecies to species and invasion from outside the designated area leads to an increase in the number of species recognised from a given area, and consequently an increase in rare species to be conserved, there is the unhappy possibility that the increased numbers will appear to indicate an improvement in the state of butterfly conservation in Europe, which in fact does not exist.

All in all the journal is off to a good start but I hope that the future will see more reports on what is actually being done to conserve which species where, and a whole lot more on groups of insects other than the lepidoptera. Though the role played by butterflies in the conservation of insects and their habitats is as invaluable as it is out of proportion with their actual numbers, I think it would be a shame if this potentially excellent journal became voice only for Butterfly Conservation. The editors however, are limited to the material which is submitted to them, it is therefor essential that workers in other fields such as the various families of Aculeates, Coleoptera such as Carabidae and Bupestridae and the Collembola to name but a few become aware of and submit to this journal.

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Vol 1 No 2

Given that this 2nd issue is a 'special issue' offering a selection of the papers given at the Butterfly Conservation Symposium in Warwick 1996 it would seem inappropriate to mention further the domination of the lepidoptera. However having said that it is easy to say that this issue will be of great interest to many people. Martin Warrens introduction is a pertinent reminder that, as in all conservation matters, the real problems are; too little habitat remaining, too little money, and much too little acceptance by the major authorities of the importance of maintaining an ecologically diverse and therefore attractive environment. Ultimately it has to be understood that the state of the environment that we live in reflects and effects the mental/psychological health of our society.

The paper by New and Britton detailing the preliminary efforts made towards conserving a rare Australian butterfly is a lovely ray of light shining out of a country that may be considered one of the world leaders in putting conservation ecology into practice.

Kuchlein and Ellis' paper highlights how important it is for us to understand how environmental changes are effecting a species distribution before conservation on a rational basis can begin.

Swaay, Maes and Plate report on the first five years of butterfly monitoring in the Netherlands, it is a great boon for conservation ecology that the seeds sown by the British Butterfly Monitoring Scheme are starting to show fruits in other parts of the world, particularly Europe.

Dover Sparks and Greatorex-Davies offer an interesting report on the importance of shelter zones for many British butterflies. A report which strongly supports the continuing battle to get Britain's hedgerows replanted and better respected, the thoughtless midsummer flailing of our hedgerows is a great crime against the British countryside.

The remaining papers, Genetic population structure of the large blue butterfly Maculinea alcon in Denmark, by Gadeberg and Boomsma, New methodology for compiling national Red lists applied to butterflies (Lepidoptera, Rhopalocera) in Flanders (N-Belgium) and the Netherlands, by Maes and Swaay, Influence of management on butterflies of rare grassland ecosystems in Germany, by Dolek and Geyer and Co-occurrence of prairie and barrens butterflies: applications to ecosystem conservation, by Swengal and Swengal all contribute to making this 2nd issue of Journal of Insect Conservation a pleasant and enlightening read.

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Vol 1 No 3

This issue follows on nicely from the previous issues The double editorial by Michael Samways asks pertinent questions about the value of nature reserves in a changing climate, and then in part two brings our attention the the ants which often quietly dominate many terrestrial habitats, the early explorers of S. America are reported to have claimed that the real owners of the Brazilian Jungles were the ants, however it is not just in Brazil that the ants make there presence strongly felt.

Following on from the first half of Michael Samways editorial Ian Woiwood reviews the currently hot topic of climate. Are the effects already detectable in changes in insect populations? Concentrating on Lepidoptera data from the UK he comes to the conclusion that yes, climate change is affecting insect populations already.
Owen Lewis and Clive Hurford report on the changing status of the Marsh Fritillary in the UK, though their sample area is limited the results are not totally discouraging.

Roger Dennis and Harry Eales report on habitat patch usage by the Large Heath, coming to the surprising conclusion that patch quality has little effect in comparison with patch size on usage, it is however difficult to be sure we are assessing patch quality from the butterflies point of view.

The Large Copper is another hot discussion point among UK lepidopterists, though it is declining in Europe it is effectively extinct in the UK. It is obvious from this report that we need, not only a lot more info on the insects ecology, but also a major change in the management of the proposed reintroduction site if this proposed reintroduction is going to work.

Finally the journal ends with 5 book reviews and a collection of errata for the paper by New and Briton in the previous issue.

What is published in this journal is a reflection of what the editors have to chose from, if all that is submitted are papers on UK lepidoptera than that is all they can publish, the answer lies with you the reader, as only you can write the papers this journal needs. After talking to the editor at a recent meeting on the 'State of the Public's Awareness of Invertebrates in the UK' I am convinced that he is seriously seeking non UK, non lepidoptera papers, so the widening of this journals horizons is entirely in your hands.

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Vol 1 No 4

This issue completes the first year of the Journal of Insect Conservation (JIC) and in doing so it also signifies the coming of age of the journal, or to use an analogy the egg has hatched. In this issue we finally see JIC break away from the maternal strings of Butterfly Conservation and fulfilling its name, it will be fun to watch it grow.

The editorial by C. Boggs discusses the problems involved in generating the sound biological information needed to allow us to build effective environmental management policies. His manner is competent if uninspiring. Following this there are five papers in this issue.

The first, by Ranius and Nilsson is an interesting account of the habitat choice of the beetle Osmoderma eremita highlighting the fact that the preferred habitat of O. eremita is difficult to manage for, (eg. on which side of a tree a hole occurs etc). Bringing home the unstated message that for many invertebrates who use an infrequent and patchy resource, large areas of potentially suitable habitat are required to maintain a viable population. Small nature reserves can not always do the job we require of them.

The 2nd paper by Appelt and Poethke looks at the population and metapopulation biology of the Blue Winged Grasshopper Oedipoda caerulescens in central Europe. They discuss their findings in terms of 'Incidence Models' and with reference to grasshoppers in general.

Paper 3 by Krüger and Scholtz examines the possibility that drift of the insecticide pyriproxyfen from nearby orchards may be the cause of the observed declines of the rare dung beetle Circellium bacchus in Addo Elephant National Park S. Africa. They come to the conclusion that it was not, which leaves them with the real cause still to find . This was an interesting paper and I would like to see more of its sort in the journal in the future.

Paper 4 by Clarke and Samways is an interesting look at arthropod diversity inside a S. African Botanical Garden. They sample two quite different ecotypes within the gardens, comparing the results of a number of different sampling techniques. They come, not surprisingly, to the conclusion that 'how and where you sample within a habitat has a profound affect on the numbers species diversity that you record. Also, as they say ".....this study clearly illustrates that where the taxonomic and richness impediments are enormous, the most appropriate managerial approach for ecological landscaping for arthropod conservation is to provide as wide a variety of ecotypes as possible."

The final paper by Veenakumari, Mohanraj and Sreekumar takes a look at host plant utilisation by butterfly larvae in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. They supply information on over 120 species in tabular form which should be a useful resource to workers in this field. All in all it was a real pleasure to read this issue of JIC and I would heartily recommend its acquisition, if your institute is not taking this journal yet ask them why not. I look forward to watching this journal develop through its 2nd year.

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Vol 2 No 1

Having finished its first year on a good note the JIC gets off to what will be a popular start in its 2nd with a 'Special Issue' on Maculinea butterflies. Of the 8 papers and 2 reviews that make up this issue 4 are of a broad general focus, 3 focus specifically on M. rebeli, 2 on M. arion and 1 on M.teleius and M. nausithous, giving fairly good coverage of the 5 species that live in Europe. As there are currently only 6 designated species of Maculinea, all of which are declining to rare and whose conservation is an active issue, this special issue of JIC will be a valuable resource for researchers and students for years to come.

The first review by Fiedler is an introduction to the ecology of Maculinea butterflies. It discusses the origins of, and extent of ant-butterfly interactions within the Lycaenidae, and how the have evolved into brood parasitism in Maculinea sp.. The paper supplies good background information and sets the scene well for the rest of tis issue.

The 2nd review by Wynfoff details the distribution of Maculinea sp. in Europe, supplying distribution maps for all 5 species along with cogent discussions of the reasons behind their current conservation status.

The 1st paper by Clarke et al details the habitat constraints and relationships of Maculinea rebeli. The papers main objective is to quantify the variables used in and to discuss the model presented by the authors. The model is used to predict optimum habitat management for the ant Myrmica schenki within the greater realm of the Gentiana cruciata habitat, and hence conservation of M.rebeli itself.

The 2nd paper by Thomas et al deals with M. arion, giving details of a 3-variable system of relevent factors; insolation, sward height and air temperature as controlled by altitude and latitude. It discusses how the interaction of these 3 variables controls the distribution of M. sabuleti and hence the distribution of M. arion. It goes on to discuss existing conservation efforts and to make recommendations for the future.

Paper 3 by Wynhoff looks at the results of a successful attempt to reintroduce M teleius and M. nausithous to a nature reserve in the Netherlands. The results are interesting and mostly positive, but pose some intriguing question about both species.

Paper 4 by Hochberg et al discusses the interesting conservation problem of '..what about the parasites?'. Rare insects are not immune from obligate parasitoids and Ichneumon eumerus only ia an obligate parasitoid of M. rebeli. If M. rebeli is rare then I. eumerus must be rarer. This paper discusses the biology of I. eumerus looking particularly at the conservation issues attendant with reduction in habitat patch size for M. rebeli.

Paper 5 by Elmes et al takes a detailed look at the ants involved in all 5 Maculinea interactions. Particulars are given of ants ecology with and with out butterflies. Considering that conservation of Maculinea butterflies is totally dependant on understanding the ecology of these ants this is an important and relevent paper.

Paper 6 by Wardlaw, Elmes and Thomas is a useful look at the pros and cons of rearing Maculinea sp. in captivity. It supplies much useful information on which species are likely to be successfully reared, as well as on important methodology and techniques.

Paper 7 by Dolek, Geyer and Bolz is an interesting little paper reporting on the dwindling m. rebeli population along the Danube. It discusses the butterflies dependance on early successional habitat which is currently not being renewed because of the taming of the river, and current conservation efforts.

Paper 8 by Kolev reports on the distribution of M. arion in Finland. This is the most northerly population of a Maculinea species in europe. The sad news is that there is little in the way of conservation being done and that the remaining populations are all threatened.

All in all this is a very useful collection of papers and an excellent start to the new year for JIC.

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General Info


Prof. Paul Ehrlich (USA)
Prof. Edward Wilson (USA)
Prof. Dan Janzen (USA)

Editor = Dr Andrew Pullin (UK)
Associate Editor = Prof. Michael Samways (South Africa)

Editorial Board

Prof. Paul Brakefield (Netherlands)
Prof. Nigel Stork (Australia)
Prof. Carol Boggs (USA)
Dr Hugh Danks (Canada)
Mr Adrian Fowles (UK)
Dr Tim New (Australia)
Dr Keith Brown (Brazil)
Dr Roger Dennis (UK)
Dr Ilkka Hanski (Finland)
Dr Joseph Settele (Germany)
Dr Martin Warren (UK)

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This page will be updated on a regular basis allowing you to keep in touch with what is available in each issue.

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