Archive of: beetles

Museum Collections are Critical for Identifying Invertebrates

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Museum Collections are Critical for Identifying Invertebrates

In September 2016, Director Chris Cathrine carried out invertebrate surveys at Scottish Wildlife Trust’s (SWT) Balgavies Loch reserve using Caledonian Conservation’s bugvac (a modified leaf blower that sucks bugs into a net).  Bugvac is excellent at turning up invertebrates such as spiders and beetles hiding deep within vegetation that would be difficult to collect or missed entirely using traditional collection methods.  Recently we identified the species collected, however some of these invertebrates can be very difficult to differentiate from one another, even using the microscopes, identification keys and reference collections we have in the office. 

Luckily the National Museum of Scotland Collection Centre in Edinburgh allows access to their collections for reference and research, giving us the opportunity to compare anatomical features of our samples against curated specimens in the collection.  In Britain there are around 4,000 known beetle species and, just like people, individuals of each species are unique, coming in a natural range of shapes, colours and sizes.  Around a quarter of all beetles are members of the Staphylinidae family (rove beetles), many of which show only very minute physicals differences from one another.  A good reference collection with a number of specimens of the same species collected from different geographical locations can prove very useful in aiding identification.

Despite the difficulty of identifying some species, the information gained can be very useful for making informed decisions about changes to land management.  Since many invertebrate species require very specific microhabitats or host plants, they are often excellent indicators of habitat quality and change.  The conservation status and habitat preferences of the species identified in different parts of Balgavies Loch reserve will help SWT plan how the site can be best managed for a wide range of wildlife in the future.

Check out National Museum of Scotland’s website for more information about their excellent resources.

The SWT Balgavies Loch invertebrate report is also available to read via the Caledonian Conservation Ltd website, here.

Visit SWT's website to learn more about Balgavies Loch and their other reserves.


Paper on Donaciinae (aquatic leaf beatles) published!

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Paper on Donaciinae (aquatic leaf beatles) published!

A new paper on Donaciinae (aquatic leaf beetles) in Britain and Ireland has been published in The Coleopterist - a journal focussing on beetles in the British Isles.  Chris Cathrine (Director (Ecology) at Caledonian Conservation Ltd) worked with Garth Foster (The Aquatic Coleoptera Trust, and lead author) and Brian Nelson (Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht) to produce this update on these fascinating beetles.

The paper includes several new vice county records, and draws on a range of sources including two Site Condition Monitoring reports for Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in Scotland, completed by Caledonian Conservation Ltd under contract to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

Click here to download the paper, or visit our publications page.

The most recent Site Condition Monitoring report cited in the paper, and other interesting documents, are also available from our publications page.

For more information on The Coleopterist, or to subscribe, go to:



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