Welcome to my blog

This is where I post various musings about wildlife and ecology, observations of interesting species (often invertebrates)
and bits of research that grab my attention. As well as blogging, I undertake professional ecological & wildlife surveys
covering invertebrates, plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians and some mammals, plus habitat assessment and management
. I don't work on planning applications/for developers. The pages on the right will tell you more about my work,
main interests and key projects, and you can follow my academic work here.

Monday, 24 February 2014

The beetle is dead, long live the beetle

The decline of the leaf beetle (Chrysomelidae) Chrysomela tremula is well known (e.g. Cox, 2007; Hubble, 2012), even though the causes of its probable extinction in the UK are not understood - possibly the decline of coppicing and/or a side-effect of insecticidal spraying. The last known record was from Warwickshire in 1958, so when its rediscovery was reported relatively recently from purple willow Salix purpurea in Cambridgeshire (Mendel & Hatton, 2012), there was much rejoicing. Then, shortly afterwards, the authors realised that this had been a misidentification and they had actually found C. saliceti, a species never before found in Britain (Mendel & Hatton, 2013). So, C. tremula remains probably extinct but we do have a new species. This doesn't mean C. saliceti is non-native - it is very similar to C. tremula and may simply have been overlooked - after all, their separation was tricky enough to briefly trick some very experienced entomologists until another one noticed and the error was rectified - which is how science works...

Then after a discussion at the recent Coleopterists' Day in Oxford, Howard Mendel was kind enough to post me a couple of specimens of the new species as I had never seen one.

Chrysomela saliceti approx 9.5mm long.
Chrysomela saliceti under different lighting to more clearly show the punctures on the pronotum and elytra.
The trick is to separate the two species - especially in case C. tremula is still hiding somewhere (or re-appears from the Continent). A paper about this is planned, but until then, there are two key features:
  • The claw-bearing tarsal segment (two apical teeth on the underside in tremula, absent in saliceti).
  • Dissection of males to check the tip of the aedeagus (equivalent of a penis).
Tarsus ('foot') of C. saliceti - the claws are visible but no teeth on the underside.
The aedeagi of the two species for comparison.


Cox, M.L. (2007). Atlas of the Seed and Leaf Beetles of Britain and Ireland. Pisces, Newbury.
Hubble, D. (2012). Keys to the Adults of Seed and Leaf Beetles of Britain and Ireland. FSC, Telford.
Mendel, H. & Hatton, J. (2012). Chrysomela tremula Fabricius (Chrysomelidae) rediscovered in Britain. The Coleopterist 21(3): 132-135.
Mendel, H. & Hatton, J. (2013). Correction: Chrysomela saliceti Suffrian (new to Britain) not Chrysomela tremula Fabricius (Chrysomelidae) in the cambridgeshire fens. The Coleopterist 22(1): 19.
WarchaƂowski, A. (2003). The Leaf-beetles (Chrysomelidae) of Europe and the Mediterranean Area. Natura Optima Dux Foundation, Warsaw.

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