The funding will help to protect butterflies and other insects

Donations fund PhD into insect biodiversity

Research into the importance of mining sites in the South West on insect conservation, will take place from 2019 thanks to donations to the University of Exeter’s ‘Making the Exceptional Happen’ Campaign.

Cornwall-based Environmental Consultants Spalding Associates and the Cornwall Butterfly and Moth Society have partnered with the University’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences to fund the four-year ‘Cornwall Butterfly and Moth Society PhD Studentship’ for a talented student based at the Penryn Campus.

Cornwall has a rich heritage of mining and old mine sites remain not only a World Heritage site but also a critical place for insect conservation surrounded by a sea of intensifying agriculture. These donations will fund an interdisciplinary study combining state-of-the-art techniques such as LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) surveys of vegetation, thermal mapping and biological surveys. The aim is to establish what insects are present now, what their specific habitat requirements are and, most importantly, how significant the mine sites are to their presence in the South West. The study will focus on sites under management by Natural England and survey all arthropods but have a specific focus on butterflies and bees (particularly mining bees and wasps).

Keith Wilson, the Secretary of Cornwall Butterfly and Moth Society, said: “We are very excited to be supporting this project. At a time when so many pollinating insect species are under threat, it aims to produce practical guidance in preserving insect numbers that should be applicable to Cornwall and other areas of the country with comparable topography.”

Adrian Spalding, CEO of Spalding Associates said: “As a small team of experienced ecologists, we are delighted to be able to support this research. By understanding the factors that encourage key species to flourish and those that cause them to vanish from a space, we can learn how to protect them. Our environmental planning expertise will also help translate these studies into real management solutions for interested parties such as Natural England and associated mining operations.”

Prospective students can apply for the PhD until 18 January 2019.

Date: 21 December 2018

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