Securing the future of the Freshwater Pearl Mussel

The Freshwater Pearl Mussel is an ancient survivor from a 200-million-year-old molluscan family. Exploitation and degradation of its favoured clean, fast-flowing river habitat has left the species in trouble, with just one population remaining in England. Now, the West Cumbria Rivers Trust (WCRT) is trying innovative methods in an effort to ensure the species’ survival.

Crayfish in the Wyre Forest

Numbers of White-clawed Crayfish have crashed after the arrival of the American Signal Crayfish introduced the deadly crayfish plague to the UK. Some streams in the Wyre Forest still support healthy populations of the species, but these are far from safe due to the presence of crayfish plague in nearby. Graham Hill describes the mixed

Restoring Ratty to his riverbank

The authors provide an overview of Water Vole reintroductions from 2001 to 2014. When Stephanie Roden Ryder, in 1962, wrote her excellent book on Water Voles Arvicola amphibius for the Sunday Times series on British Mammals, she stated that ‘wherever there is good water contained in firm banks then you may be sure to find

Mollusc of the glen

Imagine walking over the Scottish hills into a remote Highland glen and discovering an entire ecosystem little changed in more than 2,000 years.  As previously reported (e.g. Cosgrove et al. 2000, 2012), the Freshwater Pearl Mussel Margaritifera margaritifera has suffered significant declines throughout its Holarctic range and is now classified as Endangered in its world

Chalk streams and grazing Mute Swans

The chalk streams of southern and easten England, with their crystal-clear, gently flowing waters, are one of our most iconic ecosystems and famous for game-fishing. They are also among our most important wildlife habitats, with many designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), owing to their abundant and

Wildlife crime and Scottish Freshwater Pearl Mussels

In 2000, we co-authored a paper in British Wildlife entitled 'Freshwater Pearl Mussels in peril' (Cosgrove et al. 2000a). This summarised the status of the species in Britain and Ireland, its fascinating life history, the threats to this globally threatened species, and the conservation action that was planned under the auspices of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. More than

Flies of exposed riverine sediments

Exposed riverine sediments are shoals, spits an banks of recently deposited mineral material left by rivers and streams once floodwater has subsided. On the face of it, it is just lifeless sand and gravel scoured by floods and almost free of vegetation. But this apparently barren habitat supports a unique suite of insects. 

The Eye Brook – a multifunctional approach to catchment management

The Eye Brook is one of the countless small streams that have spent the past few millennia making East Anglia what it is today. Soil erosion is a natural process without which the fens would still be sea. Productive agriculture, and the towns built on it over several centuries, owe a debt of thanks to

The Bullhead – its biology and conservation

Anyone from eight to eighty who has poked about in a stream, from Cornwall to Cumbria and from Wales to East Anglia, will most likely have encountered a Bullhead Cottus gobio, a large-headed and large-mouthed little (maximum of 15cm) fish. 

What the UK BAP has done for the River Jelly Lichen

If there is a charismatic lichen, this is it. The scientific name, Collem dichotomum, is pleasing to the ear and, though rare, there is probably more of this European endemic in the British Isles than anywhere. 

The White-clawed Crayfish – a decade on

Just over a decade ago, one of us (Holdich 1991) wrote an article for British Wildlife highlighting the threats to the survival of the White-clawed Crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes in the British Isles. 

Wild trout in the British Isles – their variety and conservation

During the 19th century, taxonomic 'splitters' separated the native trout of the British Isles and mainland Europe into many 'species', often on the most trivial grounds. However, it is important to remember that, following the lead given by Charles Darwin in looking for evidence of species evolution through differences in closely related forms, the practice

On the trail of the Spined Loach: developing a conservation plan for a poorly known species

With its inclusion on Annex II of the EC Habitats and Species Directive, Spined Loach Cobitis taenia, a small bottom-dwelling fish, has leapt from obscurity to be a focus of conservation attention alongside more familiar species such as Otter Lutra lutra, Marsh Fritillary butterfly Eurodryas aurinia and Fen Orchid Liparis loeselii. Under the Directive, EU Member States have a duty

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