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Movement of British macro-moths through fragmented agricultural landscapes

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Over 2400 species of moth have so far been recorded in the UK, with around 900 of these belonging to the so called ‘macro-moths’. This is in contrast to the mere 59 breeding species of butterfly. Despite this, there have been comparatively few studies using moths as surrogates for other insect species when addressing conservation questions. Moths are easy to trap and identify, play vital roles in ecosystems (pollination, nutrient recycling, prey) and are also in steep decline (a third of UK species are reported to be decreasing). As a very mobile group of invertebrates, habitat preservation and connectivity are presumed to be important. This talk will discuss the work that has taken place over the past 3 years at the University of Oxford in the fragmented woodland/agricultural mosaic of Wytham Woods – beginning with a large-scale mark-recapture study to gain a better picture of moth movements through these landscapes, and concluding with my own MSc project, which entailed a more manipulative experimental set-up designed to elucidate some of the finer details about how moths use the agricultural mosaic, and in particular hedgerows. This work is highly relevant in the face of a changing climate and also on a more local level, when considering the most effective measures to be included in the government’s Agri-Environment Schemes.

This talk is part of the Ecology Lunchtime Series series.

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