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71 THE STAG BEETLE, LUCANUS CERVUS L. (COLEOPTERA: LUCANIDAE): THE 1998 NATIONAL SURVEY - AN INTERIM REPORT COLIN J. HAWES As a result of The Convention on Biological Diversity, arising Crom the 'Earth Summit' held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and the UK Government's commitment to the preservation of threatened species (Biodiversity : The UK Action Plan, 1994) a UK Biodiversity Steering Group was formed which produced its report in 1995. The Steering Group's Report outlined in more detail how action might be undertaken and for the first time published action plans for 116 priority species which included the stag beeile (Lucanus cervus). In 1997 The People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) agreed to coordinate the implementation of the Action Plan for L. cervus and a nationwide survey of the species was organised to be carried out in 1998. The key objectives for the survey were to raise awareness of threats to, and the importance of, the species among conservation groups and communities and to determine the beetle's current UK distribution. Details of the partnership groups involved in organising and promoting the survey and how this was achieved have been reported elsewhere (Anon, 1998; Napier, 1999). Preliminary Undings The response to the survey far exceeded all expectations and over 10,000 stag beetle records were submitted to PTES by more than 4500 people. A remarkable achievement considering that many recorders reported that stag beetle numbers were down on previous years due to the unfavourable weather.

Table 1 : Top 12 counties for stag beetles. County

Number of records submitted to PTES (as at 30 March 1999)

Greater London Surrey Hampshire Suffolk Berkshire West Sussex Essex Dorset Kent Oxfordshire Buckinghamshire Hertfordshire

3,068 1,425 1,042 789 764 666 582 571 504 212 208 106

No other counties exceeded 20 records.

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 35 (1999)


Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 35

Figure 1. Distribution of the Stag Beetle in Britain by 5km squares. Based on 10,957 confirmed records submitted as part of the 1998 national survey (as at 2L06.99). Includes pre-1998 data. Analysis of the results revealed a distribution pattern which confirmed that the beetle's stronghold remains the warmer, drier south-east of England with three principal regions for the species, . amely: East Dorset/South Hampshire/ West Sussex; West Surrey/E st Berkshire/London/North Kent Coast, and North-east Essex/South-east Suffolk (Fig. 1). Small colonies and Single specimens were also recorded at other locations (Napier, 1999).

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 35 (1999)



Figure 2. Distribution of the Stag Beetle in Suffolk by 1 km squares. Based on 952 records (as at 2Ist June 1999). Unconfirmed records are indicated by open circles. More than 900 L. cervus records were submitted from Suffolk. 789 of these were sent direct to PTES (Table 1). Additional, non-duplicate records were received at the Suffolk Biological Records Centre (SBRC) and have since been added to the PTES data base. The distribution pattern for Suffolk revealed by the national survey (Fig. 2) confirms the beetle's wide-spread occurrence in parts of the south-east of the county, with 'significant colonies throughout the Borough of Ipswich, in Woodbridge and at a number of sites on peninsulas between rivers Deben and Stour' (Hawes, 1998). Beetles were reported from 164 1km squares. However, a number of records included in the data have yet to be confirmed. Single specimen sightings were also received for several sites where stag beetles have not previously been recorded. These localities will need re-surveying to check for breeding colonies. Records of isolated individuals might result from transportation, beetles having been accidentally imported in/on vehicles, evidence of which has come from Norfolk (Hawes, 1998). Mis-identification, of course, must not be ruled out, but it should be emphasised that every effort was made by the PTES to ensure the reliability of records (Napier, 1999). An earlier survey (Hawes, 1998) records stag beetles from 67 localities in Suffolk. Additional localities for L. cervus reported to the SBRC or PTES in 1998 are given in Table 2.

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 35 (1999)

Suffolk Natural History,

Vol. 35

Table 2. Addilional localities reported in 1998 Hintlesham Benhall Holten S , Mary

S a l i

Leavenheath Little Bealings

Carlton Colville Denham

p ^ f l ™ Rendlesham

S S T Dnnkstone Easton Elmsett

Trimley St. Martin Tuddenham St. Martin ,, Tunsiall


Withermarsh Green (Stoke by Nayland)

Gt. Cornard A number of these locations have yet to be checked for evidence of br

% t t o t g T e s t i o n s have been made that the distribution of L. « j v w might

Ä I S ' i o n









w e l l - d r a i n e d , d e e p l o a m y o , Sandy












o , l s and






for L. cervus


S S H S S ^ i i u h' ciM^ninr 1999) As has been noted previously (Bowdrey, 199/, H a w ' s I f f i ta 9 su g gtsts that alrnost any of hardwood ean be u ü l T s e d by the larvae, provfded that it exhibits a suitable degree of decay _ The m a r n e ( P i c a vica) is well-documented as a senous predator of s ag m a w e s 998) and was by far the most important predator noted in the

by magpies.

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 35




Analysis of the 1998 survey results continues and further research is in progress. Many respondents commented that in most locations stag beetle numbers are in decline. Key sites Iherefore need to be identified and numbers monitored to establish long-term trends (Key sites (Anon, 1995) arc taken to mean areas of strong populations and also areas at the periphery of the beetles ränge). Several prototype, artificial 'logs' have been constructed for fcmales to use as egg-laying sites and will be placed in suitable habitats this year to see if these can be used to monitor the beetle. Trapping methods are also being investigated. Acknowledgements The author gratefully acknowledges the help given by the People's Trust for Endangered Species, especially Dr Valerie Keeble. I am indebted to her and to other members of the Stag Beetle Focus Group for generously giving permission to reproduce the distribution maps and to make use of its published material. Particular thanks are due to Ciaire Percy for ensuring that SBRC data was included in the maps. I also thank the many observers who reported their sightings and observations. References Anon (1994). Biodiversity : The UK Action Plan, HMSO, London. Anon (1995). Biodiversity : The UK Steering Group Report, HMSO, London. Anon (1998). The Great Stag Hunt. People's Trust for Endangered Species. Anon (1999). National Stag Beetle Survey Update. People's Trust for Endangered Species. Bowdrey, J. (1997). The Stag Beetle Lucanus cervus L. (Coleoptera: Lucanidae) in north-east Essex : Results of the 1996 Colchester 'Search for Stag Beetles' survey. The Essex Naturalist, 1997: 79-88. Hawes, C. J. (1998). The Stag Beetle Lucanus cervus L. (Coleoptera: Lucanidae) in Suffolk - A first Report. Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 34: 35-49. Hawes, C. J. (in preparation). A hypothesis for the distribution of the Stag Beetle Lucanus cervus. Napier, D. (1999). The 1998 National Stag Beetle Survey. Antenna 23(2): 77-81. Bulletin of the Royal Entomological Society. Whitehead, P. F. (1993). Lucanus cervus (L.) (Coleoptera: Lucanidae) in Worcestershire with a hypothesis for its distribution. Entomologist's Mon. Mag. 129: 206. Colin Hawes 3 Silver Leys Bentley Ipswich IP9 2BS

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 35


The Stag Beetle, Lucanus cervus the 1998 national survey - an interim report  

Hawes, C. J.

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