Thames Terrace Invertebrates

The Thames terrace and marshes support a wide variety of invertebrate-rich terrestrial and aquatic habitats. The Shrill Carder Bee, Four-banded Weevil Wasp and Fancy-legged Fly are among some of the charismatic species, which have nationally significant strongholds in the area.

It has been stated that there is a ‘yawning gulf’ between academic research into invertebrate conservation and on-the-ground habitat management to deliver that conservation (Goulson et al. 2011) – this partnership project aims to do just that. By building on research by the University of East London and recent work of Buglife, the NIA represents a unique opportunity to draw together the work of several partners, maximise their impact and deliver a truly coherent landscape-scale ecological network for Thames Terrace Invertebrates (TTI).

Bee Photo by Dr Stuart Connop

Applying a mixture of traditional and experimental techniques, we will create and maintain a 98ha mosaic of suitable habitats such as flower-rich grassland, scrub, and bare ground across. We have identified 7 target sites, primarily in South Essex, with a focus on three ‘flagship’ bumblebee species: Shrill Carder Bee, Brown-banded Carder Bee and Red-tailed Carder Bee.

This practical work will be informed by a bespoke monitoring programme, involving a ‘citizen science’ project focussed on rare bumblebees associated with TTI habitats, including a series of workshops educating volunteers on species identification and nest-searching techniques.

The NIA has now published the “Thames Terrace Invertebrates: a Masterplan for landscape scale conservation in the Greater Thames Marshes”. This document outlines what we currently know and sets the scene for future work, identifying gaps in our knowledge and recommendations for delivery on the ground. It marks the start of what we hope will be a more substantial effort to conserve the full range of Thames Terrace Invertebrates and their habitats. The Masterplan is available for download here.

Buglife – the Invertebrate Conservation Trust, have published a new report highlighting the alarming loss of wildlife-rich brownfields in the Thames Gateway. Over a six-year period, over half (51%) of nearly 200 important brownfield sites in the region identified by Buglife have been lost, damaged or are in immediate threat. This report demonstrates just how important work such as the TTI project is to the important wildlife sites in the region. See more about the report and download a summary here.