Chapter

There Is a Light That Never Goes Out! Reversing the Glow-Worm’s Decline

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Abstract

The glow-worm Lampyris noctiluca (Linnaeus, 1767) (Coleoptera: Lampyridae) is thought to be declining in the UK. Average glowing counts at 19 sites in Essex, south-east England, changed from ca. 20 glow-worms per km of transect in 2001 to ca. 5 glow-worms per km in 2018. Local-scale factors in addition to climate change drove greater reduction in numbers at some sites than others. There is a clear signal of climate warming and drying effects on glow-worm numbers, but a substantially greater proportion of variation in glowing female counts is explained by local-scale site factors, such as unmanaged scrub encroachment. Management that increased site populations included scrub clearance on a seawall flood defense embankment and coppicing in an ancient woodland. No significant declines were noted in Essex woodlands, or in linear habitats such as a disused railway line or river corridor. The prognosis for Essex populations depends on how the climate and site management factors interact. Sustained favorable management of sites by coppicing and scrub cutting may buffer populations against declines caused by climate drying and warming and benefit other insects such as butterflies.

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Chapter
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