A nationally endangered beetle could find a new home at a Yorkshire college if a ground breaking initiative is successful. Staff and students at Askham Bryan College near York are working on a project to create an “ark” for the rare Tansy Beetle. The beetle’s current population is restricted to a 26 mile stretch of the River Ouse near the College, between Newton-on-Ouse and Selby.
Dr Deirdre Rooney of Askham Bryan College, York with student Mark Allan who is studying for a Foundation Degree in Countryside Management and the recently planted Tansy at the College.
Over the last few years the Tansy Beetle Action Group (TBAG) has been working to increase beetle numbers on the Ouse and approached the College to see if a Tansy Ark could be created away from the river as a safeguard against the possibly devastating effects on beetle populations of summer floods.
Dr Deirdre Rooney of Askham Bryan College explained: “We are delighted to be involved and have created a plot on campus of Tansy plants which is the beetle's sole food source. The plan is to introduce beetles to our Ark next spring. The beetles are currently being captive-bred elsewhere but we are discussing the possibility of starting a breeding unit within our Animal Management Centre before too long.
She added: “Not only is this a great opportunity to be part of a major conservation programme, but it also means our students are able to get hands-on experience working on the project and incorporate a real life situation within their studies.” Several Countryside Management degree students and Level 3 Environmental and Land Based Studies students are involved in the project.
Tansy plants in the field suffer from livestock grazing, the spread of Himalayan Balsam and shading by willows. The TBAG is drawn from North Yorkshire County Council, the City of York Council, the Environment Agency and the University of York. The Group has secured funding from the SITA Trust over a three year period to undertake a number of conservation measures.
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