Papers – Volume 4

Volume 4

Volume 4, edited by Martin Limbert and B.C. Eversham. Published 1997. Pp.(two)[i]-viii, 1–95(seven); 10 tables, 11 figures and three drawings. Colour ‘wraparound’ photographic cover (view of Crowle Moor). Price £2.50 + p&p £1.75

The Rise and Fall of a Wetland Habitat: Recent Palaeoecological Research on Thorne and Hatfield Moors – P.C. Buckland and M.H. Dinnin

This paper summarises the results of recent investigations into the archaeological and palaeoecological resources of Thorne and Hatfield Moors. The paper is divided into five main parts:

a/ The geological and geomorphlogical background to the area, which places the moors in the context of the developing landscape
b/ Recent research into the way in which the raised mires of Thorne and Hatfield Moors developed
c/ The implications of this for raised mire restoration and nature conservation
d/ Recent research into the buried prehistoric forest
e/ The results of investigations into the fossil beetle faunas buried in the peats, and the implications for nature conservation.

Silent Witnesses: an ‘Urwald’ Fossil Insect Assemblage from Thorne Moors – Nicola J. Whitehouse

An entomofaunal assemblage from Thorne Moors is examined. The assemblage is dominated by old woodland (‘Urwald’) Coleopteras (beetles), indicating that a mature, relatively undisturbed woodland apparently survived at least until the Bronze Age. This woodland appears to have subsequently been destroyed by forest fire(s). It is unclear whether the fire(s) was/were of natural or anthropogenic origin. The work carried out on the peat archives of the Moors has highlighted the changing biogeography of a range of species, and several locally extinct beetles have been added to the British list as a result of the research. Loss of specialised habitats, particularly those associated with mature forest, probably accounts for the modern distribution of these species, although their presence within the Bronze Age peats may also have climatic implications. In addition, the similarity between modern and 3000 year old fossil assemblages is marked.

The Flora, Vegetation and Ecology of Thorne and Hatfield Moors: an Overview Brian C. Eversham

Data are presented on the diversity of the flora of Thorne and Hatfield Moors, followed by an assessment of the human impacts on the flora and vegetation. The broad habitat divisions are described, involving both peatland and non-peatland types. An ecological analysis investigates three main characteristics of the moorlands:

a/ Part of the diversity of the insect faunas is due to the presence of many pairs or suites of Closely related, but ecologically searated, species. Two Agonum species (Coleoptera, Carabidae) are used to demonstrate this.
b/ The faunistic and floristic heterogeneity of areas of superficially similar vegetation is noted. This is illustrated by using the example of vegetated peat workings, which have proved to be of greatly contrasting value to invertebrates.
c/ The diversity of invertegrates in a single microhabitat is relatively wide. For instance within Spagnum areas, their varied microtopography creates measurable differences in invertegrate composition.
Finally, the paper is drawn together by the listing of six conclusions.

Recent Work on the Insects of Hatfield Moors, and a Comparison with Thorne Moors – Peter Skidmore

An entomological survey of Hatfield Moors was undertaken by the author during 1991 and 1992, using the same pitfall and water trapping techniques which had been employed earlier on Thorne Moors, and elsewhere throughout the United Kingdom. A detailed account is in preparation, but some of the main findings are discussed here. Faunistically, Hatfield Moors is very different from Thorne Moors in possessing a wider range of habitats. But even the peatland element includes several species as yet unrecorded from Thorne Moors. It is clear that despite the enormous damage done by ongoing peat extraction over most of Hatfield Moors, small undamaged refugia have retained a fauna of national significance. Thus, in terms of the ground-beetle (Coleoptera: Carabidae) fauna alone, Hatfield Moors ranks with some of the richest sites in the United Kingdom.

Site Management and Bird Recording on Thorne Moors – Peter C. Roworth

General and opportunistic bird recording began in a sustained way in 1966. The value and results of this approach are outlined. However, this type of recording does not provide a systematic and replicable way of assessing any changes in species composition or population size in relation to conservation management. The paper traces survey and monitoring work, mainly since 1990, which is aimed at providing qualitative data on breeding and other species. Particular attention is given to two recent surveys. During 1993, a point count breeding bird survey was undertaken on 520ha of abandoned peat workings. In the survey area, seven north-south routeways were identified, each being 200-450m apart; on these 59 observation points were chosen at 200m intervals. Two visits were made by each of five observers during april-May and May-June. A total of 41 species were recorded, giving an overall density of 28.86 birds/ha. The data from this and future surveys will help to measure any possible long-term changes in bird communities resulting from habitat management. Secondly, a trial survey was undertaken during the winter of 1992-93 to systematically record birds along defined routes in three blocks of abandoned peat workings. The main aim was to try and determine the value of carrying out a methodical approach to surveying winter birds in such a habitat. Due to difficulties encountered it was decided not to recomment the method. It would seem advantageous to concentrate specific groups in winter, for example raptors, wildfowl or roosting finches.
English Nature’s Management Plan for Thorne and Hatfield Moors Tim Kohler
English Nature concluded an agreement with Fisons plc Horticulture Division (now Levington Horticulure) to protect the national and international importance of Thorne and Hatfield Moors. An outline management plan has been prepared which sets out Enhlish Nature’s overall visiion for the sites, and which identifies the main objectives and prescriptions for future management.

Thorne Moors: English Nature’s Management Progress – Peter C. Roworth

During 1992, a management programme was started by English Nature to re-wet an area of c.800ha of abandoned peat workings on Thorne Moors. Since then an estimated 2000 peat dams have been installed in drainage channels and ditches, to try and prevent the loss of water from the area, in the hope that water would be held in the old peat workings. The re-wetting of the peat has already seen an increase in mire vegetation, for example Common Cottograss Eriphorum augustifolium. In areas where the rise in water level has been rapid, there has been a detrimental effect on Birch Betula, Bracken Pteridium aquilinum and Heather Calluna vulgaris Elsewhere, on some of the drier parts of the Moors, the birch, Bracken and heather are becoming too dense, and part of the management will include the opening up of areas so that the European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus population can be maintained.