More than just plants – Carmarthenshire Dunes Project

Colin Cheesman

Colin Cheesman

Head of Plantlife Cymru

4th May 2018

Colletes-marginatus-980x452.jpg

Colletes marginatus © Steven Falk

Our work at Whiteford and Pembrey on the South Wales coast, which is being funded by WREN, is benefitting a wide range of species and not just plants. As part of the project we have undertaken surveys using specialists so that we can measure change in the future and to make sure that our work isn’t destroying important habitats for other species. One of these groups is the invertebrates or insects and we have been fortunate to have had the services of David Gibbs, a renowned entomologist over the lat tewo years. A few of his discoveries tell us more about these dunes.

The Dune Tiger Beetle (Cicindela maritima), is a ground beetle that has been recorded at Whiteford during the surveys. This is a dune specialist that is found on sandy beaches and dunes systems and is endangered throughout its range which is restricted to Europe. They can be found between April and August and are very active in chasing prey in flight. In the UK populations have declined and disappeared at many locations making it a conservation priority.

The tiny dung beetle Hypocaccus crassipes has also been found at Whiteford. It is restricted in the UK to Braunton Burrows, South Devon and South Wales having first been identified as a British species at Pembrey. Being only 3 – 4 mm long this beetle inhabits dung left by grazing animals on the dune systems. It is very susceptible to the encroachment of scrub such as the sea buckthorn and willow that we have been removing as part of the project.

Finally there a great number of species which rely on open sand for nesting that the project is creating including a number of solitary wasps and bees. Amongst the rarer species recorded were Margined colletes (Colletes marginatus - pictureded above) at Whiteford and Early colletes (C. cunicularus) at Pendine.

So our work here is supporting a great range of species and not just plants! In a future blog I’ll report on the importance of these dunes for fungi.

More:

Green Winged Orchids at Pembrey (c) Simian Jones.jpg

Carmarthen Bay Dunes, Carmarthenshire

Home to nearly 25% of the entire Welsh flora, the dunes around Carmarthen Bay are of international importance. Plantlife is helping to keep the dunes in top condition.

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