Bizarre animal survey

Over this past weekend we have been on a discovery quest. The treasure we are hunting is a bizarre group of animals that many people will have seen in their gardens – millipedes, centipedes and woodlice! It’s not surprising that Jersey’s records are thin on the ground for these creatures. Being small they are under recorded so very little is know about what species we have on Jersey. We plan to change that by training up local people to survey and identify these species.

We started the day with a talk from the course tutor, Paul Lee, where we discovered which surveying techniques we need to use to find these creatures and where in Jersey to look. Soon after it was time to get out into the field with a trip to St Catherine’s Woods. This site of scientific interest (SSSI) was surveyed along the main path with the group digging, lift logs and moss to capture as many animals as possible.

It became a slight competition for the first person to find a centipede. Neil lost his footing in his excitement for finding the first one and ended up sliding down the Beech bank!

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After a quick bite to eat the group made their way into the laboratory at Howard Davis Farm. Using microscopes we were able to get a close-up view of the creatures we had captured to identify species. The Jersey Biodiversity Centre is creating a voucher specimen collection, which is the first for the island. This entails putting specimens in alcohol, which enabled the specimens to be dissected if required for the identification. It also means we can send any specimens away to be verified in the UK, we are having to do this for four of five specimens.

At the end of the weekend the Biodiversity Centre and participants on the course were able to identify nine species and two are believed to be a first for Jersey. Now trained up these volunteers will continue to survey Jersey and discover more about these bizarre creatures, so keep tuned for more about our discoveries.

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We would like to thank Paul Lee for making the trip and teaching the course and Eco Active for providing funds that made this weekend possible. If you would like to be involved in other training opportunities or run a training day yourself please contact education.jbc@gmail.com

20th December 2017

 

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