Thorne and Hatfield Moors remain the largest areas of lowland raised mire in England despite centuries of traditional peat-extraction and culminating in some 25 years of peat-milling over almost the entire moors, initiated around 1975 by Fisons and continued by Scotts. In 2002 the moors were purchased by English Nature for wildlife conservation and, where practicable, raised mire restoration. The ecology of the two moors differs in many respects and Insect recording began on Thorne Moor around 1810, but palaeoentomological research, has focused on the beetle fauna back to the Bronze Age when the moors began to develop. 2000 largely marked the end of the long period of destruction of the moors and the onset of the era of restoration.
Peter Skidmore's book documents the accumulated data from both moors, which is probably unparalleled globally, during their entire history to the end of 2005. Including extracts from the records of the Rev. Abraham de la Pryme – one time vicar of Hatfield.
An Inventory of the Invertebrates of Thorne & Hatfield Moors includes several of Peter's incredible coloured illustrations of some of the more notable Invertebrates from the moors and the book is well worth the cost just for these.
The fossil data reveals the catastrophic demise of the ancient forest fauna long ago but also demonstrate how other biotic communities have fared much better. The scarcest peatland beetles recorded from the moors for instance have been present throughout the entire stratigraphical sequence.
The list includes records of the observation of all the 4,790 taxa observed on the Moors up to the cut off date of 2005 and gives interpretive details on each, including, in terms of the modern fauna, the last year each taxon was recorded.
One of the few adverse comments about this work is that it does not contain an index. Given that the complex nature and range of invertebrate classes and orders covered is so wide, no-one is likely to embrace them all, and this is a very real deficiency. Fortunately Peter Kendall, who has taken on Peter Skidmore's role of Invertebrates recorder for the Moors, decided that an index was necessary for his work and has compiled one. This has now been published as a 32 page A4 booklet printed on heavy-duty paper. A copy of the Index will be supplied free of charge with all new orders for the Inventory.
"The large coloured illustrations depict outstanding species of Coleoptera, Hemiptera, Diptera, Lepidoptera and Hymenoptera. Tables enumerate numbers of invertebrate species (including fossils) found on the moors and their habitat categories. Intended future work is also outlined. References are provided to published and unpublished sources and three plates illustrate the structure, vegetation and ecology of the moors.
Appendices provide full ecological data for the site as follows:
A, records of invertebrates from the Revd Abraham de la Pryme transcribed from his unpublished Historia Universali Oppidi et Parochiae Hatfieldiensis or The History and Antiquities of the Town and Parish of Hatfield.
B, Noteable species arranged by habitat and category.
C, Summary of the total numbers of recorded taxa from the two moors.
D, The Inventory.
Section D provides of course the bulk of the work (pp 72-162 in tabular form) and lists all the invertebrate species so far found on the moors. This inventory is dedicated to the late Stephen Warburton who played an important role in the business of the Forum from its inception to 2003.
It is pleasing to see that the publication of the monograph is sponsored by both North Lincolnshire council and Scottish Power."
– Entomologists Monthly Magazine (2007, p. 173)
"The first part of the book contains an introduction describing the moors, details of biological recording there, short accounts of the fauna in the eight habitat categories used, a list of references and three detailed maps. There are also 18 beautiful paintings of insects. Eight of these are full page plates of beetles and include the classic Hatfield chase specialities, Bembidion humerale Sturm and Curimopsis nigrita (Palm). The inventory itself, which occupies over half of the book, lists 4,790 species, of which 1,371 are beetles. This includes a number of species known from the moors only from fossils. Each species entry includes a habitat code, regional and national statuses and the year of the most recent record on each moor.
The introductory chapters have interesting details, the lists are clearly set out and the colour plates are a real bonus."
– A.J. Allen, The Coleopterist
"Thorne and Hatfield Moors remain the largest areas of lowland raised mire in England despite centuries of traditional small-scale and latterly commercial scale peat extraction. Then, wisely in 2002, the moors were purchased by English Nature for wildlife conservation, and where practicable, mire restoration. The ecology of the two moors differs in many respects due to different substrate permeability, Hatfield Moors being generally drier with the character of a wet to dry heath.
The literature shows that insect recording here began as far back as 1810, with successive generations of entomologists contributing to the faunal lists. The area has also been of interest to palaeogeologists, such as Professor Buckland and his colleagues who have studied the fossil fauna dating the formation of the moors back to the Bronze Age. The Conservation Forum, which now oversees the area, felt that with the major shift in management priorities towards conservation, it was an opportune time to publish a complete inventory of the invertebrate taxa found on the moors. The inventory, up to 2005, lists a remarkable 4,790 taxa (Thorne Moors 3,487, Hatfield Moors 3,107) and constitutes two-thirds of the book. There is much in the fine detail (status code, habitat type, last recorded date) for readers to interpret at their will. There is no index so you need to know your taxonomy to locate specific taxa.
The author provides a very useful summary of the history of investigation of the moors, the key species, a brief description of the major habitat types with accompanying maps, plans for future research and an extensive bibliography. The book is lifted from the ordinary by a superb set of colour illustrations of key species painted by the author. I particularly admired the portrait of the extinct trogossitid beetle Temnochila coerulea, which used to occur on Hatfield Chase in the Bronze Age and today is probably confined to the Mediterranean region.
For anyone contemplating a visit to the Moors this inventory is an invaluable source of information. The artist (author) is to be congratulated."
– John Badmin, The British Journal of Entomology and Natural History Volume 20: 201 (2007)
"At first glance this is a book for those steeped in bugs since it does indeed contain a comprehensive list of all the invertebrates found on the Moors, their status nationally and locally, and where they have been found. The lists are incredible, well over 3,000 species on each of Thorne and Hatfield Moors – 4,700 in total!
My interest as a non-specialist is in the background information – which is fascinating – and the even more gasp-inducing paintings of the minute creatures which Peter Skidmore includes. There are 15 A4 pages of colour plates – my favourite being the bog reed-beetle which shines metallic purple from the page.
– Joyce Simmons, Yorkshire Wildlife Summer 2007
"Thorne and Hatfield Moors remain the largest areas of lowland raised mire in England, despite centuries of peat extraction and severe habitat degradation in recent decades; they still support an extensive and impressive invertebrate fauna. This volume is the result of many years of recording by locally-based naturalists and visitors to these unique environments which are now, thankfully, Natura 2000 sites mainly under European protection, and undergoing restoration management by Natural England.
The lengthy introductive narratives deal, inter alia, with important paleo-entomological researches from which it has been established that the scarce peatland beetles have been present throughout the stratigraphical sequences. The history of biological recording on the Moors and past conservation conflicts are included, and there are useful accounts of the range of habitats to be found today, and their associated invertebrate faunas. The extensive literature references to both published and unpublished material bear witness to the huge amount of past research which has been undertaken.
More than half the book is taken up with lists of all invertebrate taxa recorded to date, and columns show, by a clear coding system, the distribution of each species by habitat category, their regional and national status, the most recent year of recording, and analysis of pre- and post-1990 records; 4,790 taxa are listed, of which 3,487 are from Thorne and 3,107 from Hatfield. The latter is quite remarkable because, due to access difficulties, Hatfield has been much less visited in the past than Thorne. To give an idea of the range of recording, the lists include 1,383 Diptera, 1,371 Coleoptera, 576 Lepidoptera, 21 Odonata, 57 molluscs, 250 spiders – one could go on; the sites must surely rank among the most comprehensively recorded in the country!
This is a thoroughly researched book, well produced on good quality paper, and a major work whose interest and usefulness extends well beyond South Yorkshire. With a stunning painting of the ground-beetle Carabus nitens set against the white outer cover, this publication shouts 'quality' as soon as you see it. Inside there are 19 colour plates by the author, most of which are published here for the first time. In addition to being a distinguished entomologist, Peter Skidmore is an accomplished artist and one of the finest entomological illustrators in Britain today, and even if you are not an invertebrate worker the book is worth buying for the illustrations alone!
The Thorne and Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum is to be congratulated on publishing this important work which marks the culmination of years of research in a much loved and treasured landscape."
– Roy Crossley, The Naturalist (Yorkshire Naturalists Union) No. 1061 vol 132
"This extraordinary work by Peter Skidmore sets out in a methodical and detailed, yet very accessible way, the composition of the invertebrate communities of Thorne and Hatfield Moors. To a nonspecialist, this seems a daunting undertaking, not least because of the requirement to cover taxonomy, habitats, the history and current status of individual species and sources on which the information is based. The introduction is reassuringly kind to the reader. It explains the intention, the background to the undertaking, the methodology employed and the nature of the scientific information being presented. This leads into an account of the two Moors from early descriptions of the landscape, which I found fascinating, through to much more recent biological surveys. These two sections are perhaps the most "readable" of the work as they set the information in context and underscore the ecological significance of Thorne and Hatfield Moors.
Section 3 defines the terms to be used, which as a non-specialist I welcomed. The habitat groupings are explained, together with an indication of species recorded, including fossil records. This takes a little time to digest, but it is an eye-opener. The author goes on to set out the invertebrate communities recorded, habitat by habitat. We are then presented with a clear and interesting review of possible future work; so this is more than a statement of what was and is, we have some indication of what research and action might lie ahead.
That is just the beginning. An impressive list of references and sources leads into maps of the Moors, a selection of superb illustrations of significant species, and then the substance of the work, the Appendices. Again, the author's consideration for the inexperienced reader is apparent, for the terms and abbreviations used in the tabulation of data are explained with care in section 5, the Format of Inventory section and this is key to scanning the tables with an informed eye.
In conclusion: Peter Skidmore has produced a very useful and informative publication, packed with well-set-out and accessible data. It will be an invaluable document for future researchers and an excellent reference work for those who, like myself, find the world of invertebrate recording difficult to navigate."
– Roger Parsons, Communiqué (Lincolnshire Naturalists Union) Autumn 2007
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