The first year of fieldwork has just been completed relating to botany and insects on the Uist machairs. As part of the Conserving Scottish Machair LIFE+ project two surveyors from Applied Ecology, a Cambridge based consultancy, have spent much of the summer collating valuable data on lesser known fauna and flora of arable machair habitats.
A number of sample sites were surveyed across more than 60 plots spread along the west of the islands. Pitfall traps were put in place to collect invertebrates while transects were walked to attain data on pollinators such as bees as well as record the botanical diversity of the plots. Additionally soil samples were taken from each plot to allow assessments to be made both of the soil itself and the creatures within it.
Dr Chris Woolley, Applied Ecology, recovers invertebrates from pitfall traps in an arable crop
Yellow Field Pansy – one of the beautiful species found on the Uist machairs amongst the crops
Analysis of results can now begin, and over the four years of the project a picture will develop of what methods of arable crofting work best for wildlife. Combining this data with crofter discussions to find out about use of seaweed, depth of ploughing and other techniques should allow a firmer understanding of the habitat to be collated.