Biodiversity of nocturnal Lepidoptera in the dunes

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The Dutch dunes have and exceptional biodiversity of moth species. Research projects carried out during the field course Animal Ecology revealed that the moth fauna of the Dunes in Wassenaar is far less well known that that of the dunes in the province of North Holland.  In addition it is not well understood which factors govern moth biodiversity. Recently the alarming decrease of moth biodiversity in the British Isles was headline news. The dune ecosystem has been changing a lot over the past 50 years. Likewise, the climate in western Europe is changing. To implement good nature management is of paramount importance to understand how moth diversity responds to all these changes.
The dune vegetation in the Netherlands has been severely affected by nitrogen deposit, which has resulted in an large increase of tall grasses. In addition, the rabbit populations, in the past severely reduced by myxomatosis have now succumbed to a calcivirus and have been reduced to 10% of their former densities. This has allowed scrubs and trees to expand in area at the expense of open short vegetation. Current management of the dunes is directed at recreating wet dune slacks and to increase short open vegetation again.
 It is desirable to know how the changes in vegetation have affected moth biodiversity, and how future management can be optimized to in respect to moth diversity.
 We seek BSc and MSc students who are willing to study existing data on moths distribution in the dutch dunes and measure moth diversity in different vegetation types in the Dunes near Wassenaar.

The practical work will consist of running moth light traps during the night in the dunes and to study the existing data on moth distribution and abundance in relation to changes in vegetation.

Contact: Jacques van Alphen

j.j.m.van.alphen@biology.leidenuniv.nl

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This page contains a single entry by administrator published on April 21, 2008 8:08 PM.

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