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Biologists found new insect species just around the corner

In mid-June, the University’s biologists fine-combed grass, bushes, trees, asphalt and waterways around the department’s buildings. Their aim was to find out what species of plants and animals lived there. Now their mapping project is complete, and their findings include 21 endangered species and six species never previously encountered in Sweden.

 

“All six of them are hymenoptera. In addition, two of them are new genera for Sweden”, explains Pål Axel Olsson, responsible for the summer’s bioblitz, the very first at the Department of Biology.

It was Christer Hansson, researcher and curator at the Biology Museum, who found five of the six new hymenoptera. The method could seem simple: one hour’s raking in the vegetation.

“Of course it’s fun to find new species, but I was probably more surprised by the number of species I found, about 150 different species of parasitic hymenoptera”, says Christer Hansson.

The bioblitz was organised on 15 June. Over 24 hours, the biologists and others inventoried a limited

Anders Persson. Photo Inger Ekström

area around the buildings of the Department of Biology. They focused throughout on finding every living thing, whether fauna or flora. One aim of the inventory was to increase knowledge of the species that depend on one another. This makes it easier to preserve biodiversity.

During the summer, the findings from the bioblitz were investigated and analysed, and it has now been established that the biologists found a total of 913 species, of which 21 are endangered. Among the endangered species were birds, invertebrates, lichens and vascular plants, which include herbs, bushes and trees.

One of the endangered species is the lunar hornet moth, which is indeed a moth but looks like a hornet. It is very rare. Another species that is not on the endangered list but to which Pål Axel Olsson nevertheless draws attention is the common minnow, a fish whose presence indicates that the water in which it lives is healthy. The common minnow was captured by Anders Persson, who also caught redfin perch, common roach, stickleback and signal crayfish in the little stream and pond outside the Ecology building.

The abundance of species around the department did not exactly come as a surprise to the biologists. There are often many different species in urban environments. One reason for this is that urban environments include patches of wild, feral areas where flora and fauna can thrive. In other words, a kind of environment that has largely been lost with the exploitation of agricultural land. Another reason is that many species thrive in sunny, warm expanses and areas, which are often to be found in cities.

Pål Axel Olsson. Photo:Inger Ekström

Pål Axel Olsson emphasises that wild, urban areas in southwestern Skåne are particularly significant to diverse species, because the landscape is otherwise thoroughly farmed, more so than in many other parts of Sweden.

“Moreover, southwestern Skåne is unique from a geological and climatic perspective, which makes the wild environment here able to benefit many species that are completely absent from other parts of the country”, he says.

The findings from the summer’s bioblitz have been reported to the Species Portal, a website for observations in Swedish flora and fauna. The reporting means that the number of species registered in the Species Portal from the limited area around the Department of Biology was almost tripled, from 465 to 1266. In addition, the number of species reported in the City of Lund increased by 309, rising above the 10000 mark for the first time, with a total of 10304 species.

 

TEXT: JAN OLSSON

PHOTO: INGER EKSTRÖM, CHRISTER HANSSON

FACTS:

Six new species discovered
Hymenoptera are insects that are found all over the world. They include bees, ants and wasps. Most hymenoptera have a waist that distinguishes the abdominal segment from the thoracic segment. One of the outcomes of the bioblitz is that Sweden has now acquired six new species and two new genera. They are:

  • Tumidiclava bimaculata (new species and genus)
  • Lathromeris germanica (new species and genus)
  • Aprostocetus crassiceps (new species)
  • Quadrastichus anysis (new species)
  • Metaphycus chermis (new species)
  • Trissolcus semistriatus (new species)

Source: Wikipedia and Pål Axel Olsson, Department of Biology

 

 

 

 

 

 

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