Shingle beaches that are sufficiently stable enough to support perennial vegetation are a comparatively rare feature globally. In Scotland, there is an estimated 1,100 ha of vegetated shingle, mainly located in Dumfries and Galloway, Morayshire and in the North West.
Vegetated shingle provides a very important habitat for a wide range of invertebrate species. In the UK, there are many species of invertebrate that are fully reliant and dependent on this habitat. It is however threatened by a number of natural as well as man-made influences such as natural mobility, disturbance, development, climate change and pollution.Vegetated shingle is listed as a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP) priority habitat as well as being included on Annex 1 of the European Commission Habitats Directive as a habitat of international importance.
Buglife was commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage to investigate the invertebrate fauna of vegetated shingle along the north Solway Firth coast. Forty sites had previously been surveyed for their vegetation by Randall and Doody (2000). Survey sites were chosen to reflect the character of the coast and to ensure as wide coverage as possible.
Whilst all records of invertebrates were of interest, the survey focused particularly on 3 groups: Mollusca (slugs and snails), Coleoptera (beetles), and aculeate Hymenoptera (bees, wasps and ants).Altogether, a total of 242 invertebrate species were recorded at the 8 sites and this included 59 species of Coleoptera, 15 species of Hymenoptera and 40 species of Mollusca.S ome of the amazing invertebrate species recorded included the Bloody nosed beetle (Timarcha tenebricosa), Copper sun jumper (Heliophanus cupreus) and the Blind agate snail (Cecilioides acicula).This survey generated hundreds of new invertebrate records along the north Solway Firth coast.
A secondary outcome for this study was to raise awareness of the importance of shingle on the north Solway Firth coast and to encourage others to study invertebrates in Dumfries and Galloway. During 2011 a number of events were organised and attended.
The star of the day at a ‘Meet the Bugs’ event held at RSPB Mersehead was the Rhinoceros beetle (Synodendron cylindricum) which had been discovered on the reserve earlier in the week. A bug walk held at Rascarrel Bay resulted in the discovery of Short-winged cone-head’s (Conocephalus dorsalis) in vegetation adjacent to the shingle beach, this is only the second record of this species in Scotland.
Read more about our amazing discoveries in the project report
Macadam, C., Bairner, S. and Cathrine, C. (2012). Invertebrate survey of coastal vegetated shingle sites in Dumfries and Galloway. Report to Scottish Natural Heritage.
Randall, R. E. and Doody, P. (2000). Inventory of shingle vegetation survey- Solway Firth Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned Report No. F00aa405.