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  • Rothamsted Insect Survey,
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    The Insect Survey is a national capability funded by the BBSRC


    The Rothamsted Insect Survey

    Richard Harrington
    Richard Harrington
    The radar team
    The radar team

    The Rothamsted Insect Survey operates two national networks for monitoring insect populations in the UK. The history of the networks has been described before. Suffice it here to laud C.B. Williams, C.G. (Johnny) Johnson and L.R. (Roy) Taylor, whose scientific genius, foresight and determination made it possible.

    A suction trap network, run with the help of the Scottish Agricultural Science Agency and trap operators at sixteen sites, is used primarily to monitor aphids. The traps are 12.2m tall and sample 0.75m3 air per second. Their design and construction are described by Macaulay et al. The trap at Rothamsted dates back to 1964. Currently the UK network comprises 15 traps. The traps are run continuously, daily samples being taken during the `aphid season’, usually from early April until mid November, and weekly samples at other times. Aphids are identified to species where possible although, because of the need for rapid throughput and the subsequent use of low power binocular microscopes, some can only be identified to species group or genus. Although no other insect groups are identified routinely, all samples are kept, and there has been increasing use of the non-aphid fraction. Seventy three traps based on the Rothamsted design are now operated in 20 European and Scandinavian countries. In some countries only a subset of the aphid species is identified and not all insects are kept. However, all available data are being incorporated into a single database created under the auspices of the EU Thematic Network 'EXAMINE'.

    A light trap network, run with the help of volunteers at about 80 sites in the UK, is used to monitor the larger (macro) moths. Daily samples are taken throughout the year, and altogether over 430 sites have been sampled. The earliest moth records date back to 1933 from a trap on Rothamsted Farm and a national network was in full operation by 1968.

    The data from both networks have a range of applications in fundamental and applied aspects of insect population dynamics and ecology.

    Text taken from 'Foresight from hindsight: The Rothamsted Insect Survey' (PDF format), an article from Outlooks on Pest Management – Volume 18 , Number 1 (February) 2007. © 2007 Research Information Ltd. All rights reserved.

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