Martin White

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Martin White
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Joined: Thu Dec 30, 2010 8:17 pm

Hypocrites v Scientists

Postby Martin White » Thu Dec 30, 2010 9:14 pm

Over the years I’ve had very little success with requests for information from Butterfly Conservation, this despite having supplied them with a huge quantity of my personal data. It seems to me that their policy is to steer all butterfly research in Britain and thwart or frustrate any research which is not under their private control. This facet has not gone unnoticed by other groups; hence the sobriquet of “Butterfly Constipation” awarded them by ELG Editor, Paul Batty.

However, Butterfly Conservation doesn’t take first prize for having the most constipated or deaf & dumb database” in the British Isles. No, this prize must surely go to Nottinghamshire’s Biological Records Centre based at Wollaton Hall. For c.20 years I was steadfastly ignored or refused access any data, including my own, which was previously placed at their disposal together with much else besides. Only with the advent of the Data Protection Act & Freedom of Information Act (which, without paraphrasing, do exist) was I able to gain access to any information. Perhaps not surprisingly, when asked to supply them with yet more information, this time on butterfly releases, I suggested they go take a running jump off the nearest cliff (paraphrased). All this fun, and at the taxpayer’s expense!

Fortunately for me the majority of my research concerns butterfly genetics and my fellow geneticists are a different kettle of fish altogether. Their aim has been to allow me to excel. So much that I became the first person to discover “The Holy Grail of butterfly genetics”; Multiple Allelomorphism in a British species. A challenge first laid down by the greatest butterfly geneticist & butterfly scientist of the twentieth century, E.B.Ford, in his seminal work, Butterflies, in 1945. My work is in the public domain, accessible to those with the simple intelligence to find it, and therefore open to scrutiny, whether scientific or otherwise. We await with some anticipation more prodigious talents to propel our understanding further. We certainly won’t resent them!


Martin White, 3 Grafton Street, Worksop, S80 1UG., Tel: (019090) 808771, email: martincwhite@talktalk.net, 01/01/2011, 05/01/2011

Martin White
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Joined: Thu Dec 30, 2010 8:17 pm

Martin White

Postby Martin White » Sun Feb 27, 2011 8:33 pm

The Demise of Nottinghamshire’s Wildlife Heritage

There is nothing wrong with Surreptitious Science; I practice it all the time. For example, if I release a butterfly species into a Nottinghamshire locality and if it is still there three generations later I consider this a successful introduction, if not, it’s a failure. This begs a one or two questions. How do I know the species was actually absent in the first place? Why three generations? Who determines the sites and the species involved? Why should I presume to know more than the experts? Why don’t I freely offer my data for scientific scrutiny? Well the short answer to these questions is: - I’m completely satisfied with my own expertise, scientific scrutiny and personal methodology.

On the other hand let us now take a serious look at similar surreptitious endeavours where the consequences are far from benign. In Nottinghamshire sites are officially determined for their wildlife value and some of these are then given “protected status” and called a Site of Interest for Nature Conservation or SINC. With very few exceptions the whereabouts of these SINCs and the science which determines them are kept secret. The reason given is supposedly to protect the sites from the public, yet apparently the determining criteria and species lists of the far more important SSSIs: - Sites of Special Scientific Interest are divulged with no obvious catastrophic results.

The principal of SINC designation rests on a site having more than a critical number of axiophyte species. Axiophytes are plants which typify certain habitats classes, and indeed are a useful tool to determine precise ecologies and their quality (especially useful from a butterfly introductionist’s point of view). A county official decides on which plant species are to be included in each habitat list. Unfortunately, while these habitat categories and the names of all of Nottinghamshire’s axiophytes are not a secret, precisely how they are formulated is. Thus, there can be no scientific scrutiny here and certainly none from me. Luckily, however, the subjectivity of SINC determination can be qualified by independent random appraisal because some of their names and boundaries are known due to a very amenable hacker. I decided to choose the woods around Worksop, for no other reason than they were local, where either 7 or more woodland herbs or 7 or more tree & shrub axiophytes account principally towards a site’s designation. One site, Oak Wood (SK555803), a SINC, has just one woodland axiophyte herb: - Dog’s Mercury and only two of the seven trees or shrub species required: - Wych Elm & Spindle. I defy anybody to find more; and truly hope someone might give it a go. Another natural woodland, this time not an official SINC: - Jack Riding Wood (SK565803) has 23 woodland axiophyte herbs, over 3 times that required for full designation (listing available on request). It also boasts perhaps the greatest concentration of the county’s remaining population of Broad-leaved Helleborine, together with a unique ancient heathland ground-flora. Albeit, these are the most extreme cases of misdiagnosed woodland from the 50 or so examined (lists available), but a good idea of the inaccuracies involved can be gained if multiplied over the whole of the county’s 3,000 plus wildlife sites. The fact that Jack Riding Wood together with doubtless many more of the county’s top sites have utterly no official protection I find somewhat frightful.

Equally frightful would be if Jack Riding Wood where to be given SINC designation, as this would seem to offer it no protection whatsoever. Indeed, the powers that be seem to take pleasure in approving the destruction of such sites and in one case (at Warsop) its demise was later sanctioned by Butterfly Conservation. Local Planning Departments cannot be held responsible considering how daft they must consider the codswallop masquerading as science contrived and kept secret by Nottinghamshire’s conservation elite. Such expensive and ineffectual research commissioned by these useless do-gooders might well go some way to explain the true reason why the public are being withheld non-sensitive information.

Martin White, 3 Grafton Street, Worksop, Notts, S80 1UG. Tel: (01909) 808771 email martincwhite@talktalk.net 29/02/2011


Butterfly Ecology and Culture and its Relevance to Introductions

Introduction

I believe the study of Culture & Ecology only work effectively with an appreciation of each other.

Ideas

To succeed at butterfly introductions it is a good idea to have knowledge in a few subjects. Ideally, one should be able to show how the minutias of all interact. This is, of course, the basis of building new theories. These must then be capable of being practically tested to see where one is heading. Empirically untested theories or theories which cannot be tested are best classified as conjecture.

One discipline, which to me, seems to have no bearing on butterfly introduction is the etymological obsession with defining the precise differences between the terms: - introduction, re-introduction, establishment, re-establishment, re-enforcement, release, liberation together with various others. In this and my other discussions “introduction” implies the release of a species into an area and “re-enforcement” one sub-division of this term being the release of a butterfly into an area where it is already exists and translocation a second sub-division being the release of none captive-bred stock. I also, without any qualms, make use of the word “species” to mean either its singular or plural form. It will always be obvious which one is implied without the need to be pedantically correct and make use of the horrid word “specie”.

Before listing subjects associated with introductionism perhaps two should be mentioned, which although slightly related, are perhaps not so important. These are Anatomy and Taxonomy. Well, here goes, the list in order of importance to an introductionist is as follows:-

Culture
Ecology
Population Dynamics
Genetics
Landscape Management (both historical and modern)
Antiquarian Records & Record Keeping
Climate
Geography
Morphology
Parasitology (the study of butterfly parasitoids)
Diseases

Culture & Ecology

It is the interaction of these two subjects and to a lesser extent the people who study them which interests me the most. They propose to be a dichotomy in ideas and ideals and certainly interchangeable in first place. Within culture we have the art of the breeder with a supposed knowledge of horticulture and within ecology habitat composition and a similar understanding of botany. Few people or subjects try to cross the divide between them, yet no single doctrine works effectively in absence of the other. Culture draws into its domain the study of genetics more so than does ecology, but culture, unlike ecology, is seemingly oblivious to population dynamics. Landscape management should interest ecologists, and parasitoids should broaden the horizon of the breeder, but in each case they rarely do. Ploughing through old journals for some bygone history of a long extinct butterfly interests neither, unlike the antiquarian with an exacting passion for natural history.

People Studying Culture & Ecology

Perhaps the best breeder of British [& European] butterflies of the past 60 years was the late Roy Stockley. Although, he claimed to be a geneticist who just happened to dabble in breeding, this modesty didn’t belay his profound knowledge of ecology. It is my belief that such knowledge enabled his breeding capabilities way beyond his contemporaries. Any query of mine was treated to an ecological summary of the species concerned and how to apply it to the breeding cage. Questioned how to overwinter larvae of the Large Heath would evoke a vivid description of windswept moorland and the dry regime required. Pairing White Admirals necessitated the consistency of dim dappled sunlight, heat and humidity firmly associated with its under-canopy existence. “So, simply double-sleeve them, my dear boy.” From Roy I received an education from the very best and like to think I’m carrying his work forward. The down-shot is that though years of trials and tribulations could be vanquished in a few short sentences, the methodology and ideas to carry it forward become difficult.

Perhaps the country’s best butterfly ecologist is Jeremy Thomas. His work of thirty or so years ago on the ecology of Black Hairstreak is a classic, and after a more modern appraisal by one well known butterfly specialist became a blue-print by which the species can be introduced. One of the kindest comments I’ve ever received came from the reserve warden at Glapthorn Cow Pasture. He wanted me personally thanked for reducing the pressure on the reserve from summer visitors hoping to see the butterfly. Various people heading down from the north of England now had sites much nearer home to visit. My acknowledgments go out to Jeremy.

Practice

Ecology is not seemingly well understood by most breeders. Mathew Oates’ statement that introductions rarely succeed, so why bother seems to back this view. The occurrence of butterflies in the open countryside appears to be an abstract idea held by most, or indeed at best they occur where they’ve been placed. I certainly hate to see good livestock wasted even if this means talking people out of ridiculous introduction schemes.

Of the few breeders who know something of ecology perhaps less than 10% of the whole are willing to take onboard something of its complexities and it is almost certainly within this group that most successful introductionists belong.

Few ecologists try to cross the divide towards culture and when they do the results are usually rather poor. Ecologists seem even barely capable of understanding that plants grown in containers or with restricted roots need far more watering than those found growing in the open. For example, they seem unable to comprehend that artificial watering is necessary their thinking perhaps that this will ruin results. What normally happens in such cases is that earwigs climb through the drainage holes in their pots or tubs and up in-between the inside of the container and shrunken, desiccated, soil plug and eat all the livestock. One young girl, a PHD ecology student, about 20 years ago, decided on proving the wild dietary requirements of Marbled White larvae by keeping them in plastic boxes under laboratory conditions. Each box contained a specified number of larvae and a single species of cut indoor-grown grass, which was changed daily. The idea was to see which one produced the best survival rates. All but one of these especially reared plants succumbed to an aphid infestation, which by happenstance was Meadow Fescue, and therefore, perhaps not surprisingly, only this species proffered surviving larvae. It was duly written-up that Meadow Fescue was the only natural pabulum of Marbled White. Miriam Rothschild, and an agronomy unit in North Wales believed this and after I helped discover a new ergot species host-specific to Common Couch, which after sequestration by Marbled White produced a flavloid poison new to science it was difficult to make her understand I’d also reared the larvae throughout their entire life-cycle on various other grasses. Happily, it was later proven by Miriam and the agronomists that various ergots, each being host-specific to a certain grass, and each producing a distinctly different poison through Marbled White sequestration, could then be analysed in old cabinet specimens proving exactly what species of grasses they’d fed on. And that Marbled White in the wild fed on differing species of grass, together with the ergots. It’s also worth pointing out that the species’ black & white chequer-board pattern is a warning to predators that it is highly toxic, so breeders shouldn’t have to worry about anything eating this one!

The most important ecological requirement of any butterfly species is, obviously, its natural larval dietary needs. An understanding of the aspect, density and condition of such plants or in the above case, fungi are also very useful facts. Simply not knowing such information can obviously lead to total failure as far as introductions are concerned. And, it is surprising in such a supposedly well studied group as British butterflies that not all such foodstuffs are know or widely acknowledged. The most interesting example (or omission) must be Scotch Argus. It has been widely acknowledged among breeders for some time that, although it is to be found feeding on Blue & Purple Moor-grass in the wild, to try and breed them constantly in captivity on these two plants will always result in failure. With Blue Moor-grass, from its English and Southern Scottish limestone grassland localities, death is mainly due to drowning in dew-drops formed on the leaf-blade. Purple Moor-grass, from its Scottish moorland home, has such little nutritional value that the larvae slowly fade away, or at best produce small adults. Having eliminated the impossible, whatever pabulum is left growing in its natural localities, no matter how unlikely, should theoretically be worthy of investigation? The only candidate on Cumbria’s Arnside Knott after a couple of days of ecological surveying was Glaucous Sedge (Carex flacca). Perhaps not a likely sounding candidate. After twenty larvae were placed on a sleeved sedge during a springtime afternoon I thought to return in the middle of the night with little expectation I would find any of them feeding. In my expectation, all would be found stuck in the netting-pleats. In the event, bleary-eyed, I went outside and thought I’d counted thirty-five feeding away quite happily. Halfway back to the house it suddenly occurred to me that I’d only put twenty out. The feeding caterpillars showed such crypsis with the male catkins on the sedge that it was impossible to tell catkins & larvae apart without actually shaking the larvae off. Next morning the pot was seemingly empty and the larvae took some finding, all hidden precisely inside the curled, “pig-tail“, dried-out, dead lower leaves of the sedge, colouration, texture and spiracles matching exactly. Henceforth my breeding was far more successful with this species. Another two days of ecological work later, this time at Smardale Gill, proved that the distribution of the butterfly at its other major English site correlated exactly with that of Glaucous Sedge and not that of the commonly supposed Blue Moor-grass. Regarding the foodplant or plants in its Scotland moorland sites where Glaucous Sedge is normally very rare or absent this I don’t know. But, guessing a similarity with Glaucous Sedge it is probably either Common or Carnation Sedge, two very similar looking plants and much more readily found on moorland.

Knowing what the larvae of a species feed on in the wild brings into sharper focus most of its other biological needs. The old English records of Scotch Argus suddenly make a whole lot more sense when you realise all its sites have masses of Glaucous Sedge, and because Marbled White is feeding on ergots as well as grasses its relationship with predators and parasitoids becomes far more obvious even to the beginner.

Methodology

The methodology of culture and ecology can also be checked against each other. A barometer so to speak. All of which leads me smartly onto the subject of the British weather and its supposed effect on British butterfly culture. The top and bottom of which is there hardly isn’t any. This makes methodology, without such entropy, a whole lot easier to define. True, the methodology of introducing butterfly livestock during wet weather needs attention, but this is purely an artificial process. For example, introducing adult butterflies away from roosting sites when the weather is calling for torpor is never clever nor is dropping larvae into wet or dewy grass. There are plenty of others.

Temperate butterflies may well slowly adapt or evolve to suit climate, but not weather. The culture of people, a tropically evolved species, do quickly adapt to the weather, and I believe the confusion here is to some extent due to anthropomorphism. Wet or cold weather killing butterflies is a common explanation amongst those of limited experience. Such conditions in fact slow life-cycles with hot weather speeding up the exactly the same development. Culture is thereby largely unaffected. The affects of weather on their ecology are however very real and any methodology should principally address itself with an understanding of this in mind. Most breeders of British butterfly seem utterly determined to negate the supposed ill results the weather may bring by overzealous covering. This compounds the natural atmospheric conditions of temperature, humidity and light into extremes and, or, far greater consistency. Both will kill livestock, either working in tandem or separately, and such stresses, if not immediately fatal, may show themselves later. Sometimes much later. The one noted exception amongst the resident British species is White Admiral, which uniquely is better suited to a tropical environment. This particular misunderstanding lead to one noted breeder /introductionist, Ted Rimmington, coining the phrase: - “pipe & slipper treatment”. His whole quote being:- “They seem determined to get them over the winter by doing anything imaginable apart from actually giving them a pipe and slippers and sitting them in front of a roaring fire”. My mantra to such beginners has become: - “Please try to keep them caged outside in a living environment and fully exposed to as much wind, rain, sun and frost as possibly, and you cannot possibly do them any harm”. A complaint that such treatment also resulted in total failure left me in complete despair with the inquisition: - “Yes, I did keep them outside, just as I was told, I even left the garage window open, but they still died!” I replied that they were meant to be kept outside not outside in a garage. Sometimes a very late frost will kill well developed larvae, and if it rains for more than four days continuously caged livestock will start to suffer, but this happens maybe only once in every ten years or so. And is an ecological concern than a cultural one. The solution is in this methodology and the methodology of cage designs. These most effectively should include maximum containment of stock and predator exclusion compromised against maximum internal atmospheric variation. Natural extremes exacerbated by cage cover can also be overcome to some extent by providing alternative, compromising, environmental conditions or locations, i.e. if it becomes too hot dampen down, or too wet try tipping cages over to expose less surface area to inclement conditions while retaining maximum exposure to everything else. Do not cover them over! Smaller cages with less stock are easier to exclude predators and have far better environmental conditions but are much more labour intensive than larger ones.

One or two experienced breeders have started to rear stock without any cage-cover at all, especially overwinter, though they do expect heavy losses due to some predation and lack of confinement. This produces the healthiest stock, though is not ergonomically viable with all species and does stray somewhat into ecological research, i.e. some larvae tend wander great distances while others remain exactly where there’re placed. And it is a possibility that these factors may well be inter & intra-correlated to predator and parasitoids detecting frass and thereby potential prey subjects. Such that, species which move greater distances as larvae tend not to be capable of catapulting frass pellets. And, a species, such as Marbled White, which due to its bio-chemistry, already cited, has no need for either, thereby a stationary feeder, has not evolved such strategic behaviour. (a parasitoid being a predator, only feeding internally as opposed to externally). Speckled Wood, on the other hand, not only wanders great distances but catapults frass pellets too, so there must be something out there in the environment that it has specifically evolved to avoid. It is information of this sort which, though relatively novel and speculative, is still useful to introductionists in determining deployment density and positioning of larval stock.

Husbandry

The methodology of British butterfly husbandry is perhaps best explained as 99% horticulture and 1% logistics. And this includes:- Producing sufficient quantities of the right sort of sterilised plants in the condition right for the species concerned. Plant pest & disease control without the use of propriety insecticides. Understanding watering regimes, growing substrates nutrient requirements, or sometimes even lack of nutrients needed for plants hosting livestock. Cheap and effective caging, which ideally should be easily dismantled, sterilised and stored away. Knowing why, how and when to move stock most efficiently onto fresh growth with the minimum of stress. And good knowledge of adult feeding regimes.

Virtually all problems of livestock husbandry concern larval development. And, because caterpillars are virtually walking stomachs, nearly all their problems are related in some way or another to what they’ve eaten and how they’ve eaten it. Hardly anything else matters. Under stress bacteria act as diseases will break down the gut wall, normally killing the larvae. Viruses acting as pathogens are very rare and are lumped together here with bacteria although they work in different ways though the end result is death or butterflies of reduced size. As far as I’m aware no virus treatment has yet shown positive results in any British butterfly trails. Breaking the cycle of disease transmission from one generation to the next is by far the simplest and best preventative measure and produces the best stock for introduction purposes. Adults should be emerged in totally different cages from those used for rearing larvae and “exercised” for several hours so they excrete as much murcuial fluid as possible before adding them to a pairing and egg laying environment. Such adult deposits contain large amounts of bacteriological and possibly viral waste and if later ingested by larvae can prove fatal. After pairing, females are best moved to a succession of laying and hatching cages thereby providing more immediate spacious living quarters for their offspring than all being crammed into a single cage. Without supplementary treatment the quality of stock normally produced in later cages increases until the very last. However, in practise sterilising the foliage, substrates, livestock and cage by spraying with Milton at the recommended level normally kills any pathogens and generally for cultural purposes leaves ova & larvae well alone. The sterilising affects of ultra-violet light in sunshine, natural acid in rain and frost also produce exactly the same results although these are not so readily reliable. Larvae kept under glass are placed under extreme stress, including increased conditions of constancy and extremes, already mentioned, but are also denied these three wholly natural and variable benefits. Always fit the cage to the foodstuffs and substrate and never the other way around. Cage designs should accommodate this.

Adult pairing, with the sole exception of Purple Emperor is fairly straight forward. The occasional species will only pair at specific times of day or when the males have reached a critical age, but otherwise few problems are encounterd. None-hibernating males always peak first during emergence, and should be placed in their pairing quarters before females allowing them to become imprinted on their environment. Females are normally added two or three days later around mid-day during sunny conditions. Pairings usually take place immediately or within 20 minutes.

Virtually 100% success at hibernating or aestivating should be achieved with most species. Most problems are, as explained, with the caterpillars and knowing how and when to provide them with a constant supply of clean growing foodplants or whatever. My best advice is change stock at least every instar and divide them up while doing so onto fresh weathered foodstuffs and substrates in greater and greater numbers of equally small cages. It is also to be noted that on average a newly hatched larva will grow one thousand times before it reaches pupation and as such will therefore require caging with an average of one thousand times greater space at the end of this cycle than at its beginning. How much space you give them is a complex subject and is largely based on experience and ecological understanding. Concentration camp mentality never works. The Fritillaries, in particular, will eat as much on their last day’s growth as on all their other days put together. So, be warned. As a general rule never, ever place stock in a fridge or try to rear larvae indoors or in plastic boxes. Try to avoid antibiotics at all costs. And, these are only ever wholly successful if applied before a problem actually becomes apparent, normally because of some earlier mistake. If they have to be used, never, ever use the same one consecutively on the same stock. Producing a “super-bug” by using the same antibiotic over and over again on the same species and introducing this into the wild either accidentally or deliberately has the potential to wipe out an entire species. And quite possibly not necessarily the one you’ve introduced. There are, of course, absolutely no problems with introducing diseased stock or stock with the correct compliment of gut bacteria into the wild, where the disease or bacteria /virus itself must have originated in the wild and hasn’t been artificially tampered with. I would also absolutely encourage parasitoid introduction with stocks. British manmade ecologies thrive on diversity, not a lack of it as I hope to prove fairly conclusively later.

Martin White, 3 Grafton Street, Worksop, Notts, S80 1UG. Tel: (01909) 808771 email martincwhite@talktalk.net; 01/10/2011 & 08/10/2011
Last edited by Martin White on Sat Oct 08, 2011 2:15 pm, edited 8 times in total.

Bill S
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Re: Surreptitious Science:

Postby Bill S » Sun Feb 27, 2011 11:16 pm

Martin White wrote:[size=150]Well the short answer to these questions is: - I’m completely satisfied with my own expertise, scientific scrutiny and personal methodology.


Well your own science must be fine then. :shock:

You seem to be adopting a moral high ground on the basis of flawed science in others but your own work has not been peer reviewed. That isn't a strong position to take.

Bill

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Gruditch
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Re: Surreptitious Science:

Postby Gruditch » Mon Feb 28, 2011 7:34 am

Martin White wrote: Indeed, the powers that be seem to take pleasure in approving the destruction of such sites and in one case (at Warsop) its demise was later sanctioned by Butterfly Conservation


I would like to hear the facts behind this accusation please.

Regards Gruditch

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Re: Surreptitious Science:

Postby JohnR » Mon Feb 28, 2011 10:26 am

This would appear to be an opportunity to exercise your right under the Freedom of Information Act 2000

(1)Any person making a request for information to a public authority is entitled—
(a)to be informed in writing by the public authority whether it holds information of the description specified in the request, and
(b)if that is the case, to have that information communicated to him.


The act was designed to rootle out such information.

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Re: Surreptitious Science:

Postby Jack Harrison » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:46 am

Martin.

I have to say that this is rather beyond me, so for the moment at least, I am making no comments on this particular topic.

However, it would be most useful to hear about your breeding programmes. For example, the cages you use, how to keep predators such as birds and cats away, the locations within your garden (sun, shade, etc), your overwintering methods.

I have dabbled with butterfly breeding (mainly easy species such as Orange Tip) but not always successfully. On the point I raised above, overwintering is quite an issue. I have found that in captivity, there is a strong tendency for early emergence. I overcome this with Orange Tips by keeping the pupae in a box in a fridge but clearly this isn’t a very practical method for overwintering larvae. The fridge method does work though for species that hibernate as adults.

So please let us know some of the secrets behind you successes and maybe some photos of your kit, cages, etc.

Jack

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Postby Martin White » Sat Aug 13, 2011 1:34 pm

MISSION NOT SO IMPOSSIBLE

Despite the claims of vulgar opinion Nottinghamshire's butterfly enthusiasts have produced a plethora of evidence detailing their sightings and captures over the previous two centuries. The relative intensity of this activity is doubtless less copious than that provided for us by the ornithologist, but nevertheless this leaves the modern generation with only the remotest chance of making truly fresh discoveries. Indeed, prosperity may well signal the county's last genuine, original butterfly observation as being made in the year 1956, on the occasion of one Neil Wood diverting his prodigious talent to a site north of Retford and discovering a colony of the Grayling. All subsequent claims of foremost butterfly discoveries must be treated as precocious, i.e. already tabulated, cribbed, ubiquitous, introductions, or the results of prosaic and easily foretold spread or migration. This is not to say that the modern recorder /conservationist is not without employment, nor is it that his or her task is the least bit boring, lacking in enjoyment, or skill. There is far too much to do and learn, filling-in all the blanks, monitoring seasonal trends, and doubtless many, many more equally important tasks engaging the jolly camaraderie of enlightened minds. All these however only providing the icing on the cake of past originality. To aver otherwise is to live an existence of temporal smugness or exhibit a crass understanding of the past.

Nottinghamshire's most overt exponent of such ideology must be geologist, Professor John Carr, whose belief in the Invariable Universe caused him to treat any nineteenth century butterfly occurrence not apparent in his own lifetime as reputed. Such is the ever-changing flux of ecology that may we not now try to understand, forgive and bury such perverse thinking for good?

One species treated to disregard by Carr (and others) is Nottinghamshire's original lineage of Brown Hairstreak Carr, J.W., 1916, The Invertebrate Fauna of Nottinghamshire. Its sole nomination for the county rests within a mid-nineteenth century list replete with all manner of other curiosities not know to reside here at the beginning of the twentieth century Sterland, W.J., 1875, Worksop, The Dukery and Sherwood Forest. This resulted in a case of mass dismissal by unlikely association. Luckily, all barring one of these supposedly exotic creatures have been confirmed from the various surrounding shires at one time or another, thereby strongly inferring a somewhat less dubious collective provenance for Notts. See also: - White, M., 2000, A ramble through the butterflies of Nottinghamshire, AES Bulletin, Vol. 59, no.433. All of which would've remained fairly prosperous for the shire's bygone history of Brown Hairstreak had it not been for Yorkshire aficionado, Steve Garland, who incongruously decided to make a late-twentieth century amendment to Sterland’s nineteenth century list, making it look a whole lot more incredulous than it already appeared Garland, S.P., 1981, Butterflies of the Sheffield Area, Sorby Record, p.6. Thus, in 1981, the derisive tyke addition of 1800s Heath Fritillaries aided the excommunication of Victorian Hairstreaks from Nottinghamshire. All rather sad. However, one bright-named spark, who was neither Ornithologist, Geologist, nor Yorkshireman had, in 1975, despatched a copy of the original record to Monks Wood Biological Records Centre, and from here it triumphantly found its way into the Millennium Atlas SK66, 1874, Sherwood Forest.

It’s perhaps also well worth mentioning that in Garland’s aforementioned book, White-letter Hairstreak is considered very rare in the Sheffield area, at a time when the highest density of the butterfly’s British records were epicentred around Sheffield. Plus, the locally abundant Purple Hairstreak was ignored altogether. Later protestations emanating from Sorby [Natural History Society] that the species was simply missed-off by the printers offended my credulity even further, when an offer to view the original manuscript was flatly refused. A slightly earlier work upon which Garland’s [garbage] was based Smellie, W.J., c.1976, Sheffield Area Butterflies, Sorby Record, also appeared with exactly the same supposed printers error. What naughty printers, I say. Others might well call them a dozy bunch of northern twits who didn’t realise Purple Hairstreak occurred in their region in the first place. Certainly, however, none of them had sufficient nous to pontificate on anything to do with Nottinghamshire’s fauna or flora, especially when they were overtly incapable of getting their own right.

Anyhow, back to Brown Hairstreak. Sadly, in 1984, the species finally died-out in its very last, very isolated, Lincolnshire locality due, apparently, to long-term inbreeding. In 1993, and in accordance with Butterfly Conservation's principal objective to breed and release rare butterflies into the wild, and with the necessary paperwork, this gorgeous small brown butterfly was summarily liberated by myself into Chambers Farm Wood. And, with deft indifference to the stalwarts of vulgar opinion this introduction flourished, much more than just the specified occasional first generation to the next. Indeed, it can still be seen flourishing in ones and twos to this present day. All went modestly well, until Pete Smith (Lincolnshire Hairstreak egg-hunter extraordinaire) found the species at a second location, 4km away, in robust quantities. Had it spread from one of my reliably vigorous, ex-Buckinghamshire-scion, introductions or not? Well, after obtaining a sample stock, from this second site, they appeared far too fecund to be descended from any of the early 1980s lacklustre Lincolnshire specimens I'd reared before. A fairly subjective conjecture to be sure, but now consider this less tenuous fact: - the nature reserve purchasing willpower at butterfly central suddenly went pear-shaped when their next intended acquisition, ergo Mr. Smith's new Hairstreak location, was realised to have been founded by released butterflies. Something they, Butterfly Conservation, had been informed about but rather conveniently, immediately forgot.

As for the current existence of Brown Hairstreaks on Nottinghamshire's side of the Trent, I would leave it to the reader to discern how truthful the supposed “Mission Impossible!” difficulty of one Dr. Barry Prater Prater, B., 2003, Butterfly Conservation, East Midlands Branch Newsletter no.33, p.22 & 23 of discovering a "long-lost species” after he, at that time the Branch Organiser, had been graciously informed exactly how the butterfly came by its status and a precise six figure grid reference where he might just go look for it.

All attempts to put this particular record straight have been met with varying degrees of daftness from Butterfly Conservation. Perhaps the most amusing notion came in 2004 from Hon. Chairman, Dudley Cheesman, who claimed “The good doctor didn’t wish to imply he’d actually made the discovery.” “He’d just accidently put together a miscellaneous string of words that made it appear as if he had.” “Perhaps the General Medical Council should be immediately informed about this.” I suggested. Concluding, “For if he were to become so confused while writing some poor wretches’ medical-history it could easily prove quite fatal.” Unfortunately, this didn’t go down well and wasn’t taken up! Cheesman then made it abundantly clear that Prater wouldn’t find further patronage within the society. Consequently, a very large dark cloud suddenly appeared over Prater and he left fairly quietly under it, and shortly thereafter so did the completely ineffectual County Records Officer, a certain Michael Walker. None of which has helped me in the slightest to straighten the record about Nottinghamshire’s current Brown Hairstreaks.

It seems long overdue, but I believe a disclaimer is definitely now required on all Butterfly Conservation’s Recording Forms to avoid future mishaps of this kind. A bit like a Government Health Warning, so to speak. Firstly, it should be clearly stated that any record after it is sent to the society then becomes the sole property of said society, to abuse in any way the said society thinks fit, i.e. to bowdlerise, plagiarise, or change in any way for the pompous aggrandisement of the privileged few. Secondly, Ordinary Society Members (hereafter referred to as Punters) should under no circumstances believe they have any recourse to equal free speech in any society publications after their information has been treated to any sort of stinking contempt by any Officer of said society. Thirdly (and perhaps most importantly), Punters should not be eligible for any sort of complaint if the butterfly localities they identify are subsequently destroyed by the over-paid idiots the society employs. This latter clause is perhaps a little harsh, as in nearly all circumstances is only ever applicable to introduced butterflies and even then most exterminations are only ever committed or sanctioned by the more top echelons within the society, e.g. Chief Executive, Martin Warren at Warsop Vale, Nottinghamshire, where Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper & Small Blue were treated to more than a metre of filth and pond slurry.

Martin White, 3 Grafton Street, Worksop, Notts, S80 1UG. Tel: (01909) 808771 email martincwhite@talktalk.net 13/08/2011

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Re: Surreptitious Science:

Postby Martin White » Sat Aug 13, 2011 3:22 pm

Warsop Vale Site Destruction

For Butterfly Conservation’s first record of Dingy Skipper at the Warsop Vale site in 1999 see:-

East Midlands Branch, Butterfly Report – 2000, p.7

For the destruction of the site see: -

Nottinghamshire County News, Christmas 2006, Bright future for Dingy Flier;
ELG Wants & Exchange List no. 626, 7th Feb. 2007, Local News / A Plea for Help, Bleak Future for Dingy Flier in Nottinghamshire;
ELG Wants & Exchange List no. 632, 15th May 2007, Letter to the Editor


For slurry enrichment of the site:-

Nottinghamshire County News, Christmas 2006, Pond life Makes Comeback

For a photograph of the idiots involved & the sole surviving Dingy Skippers (made from card) see:-

Butterfly, Issue 94, Spring 2007, Brownfield sites: the way forward

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Re: Surreptitious Science:

Postby Martin White » Sat Aug 13, 2011 3:36 pm

Jack

"However, it would be most useful to hear about your breeding programmes. For example, the cages you use, how to keep predators such as birds and cats away, the locations within your garden (sun, shade, etc), your overwintering methods."

Best phone me or send an email address

Martin

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Re: Surreptitious Science:

Postby Martin White » Sat Aug 13, 2011 3:52 pm

JohnR wrote:This would appear to be an opportunity to exercise your right under the Freedom of Information Act 2000

(1)Any person making a request for information to a public authority is entitled—
(a)to be informed in writing by the public authority whether it holds information of the description specified in the request, and
(b)if that is the case, to have that information communicated to him.


The act was designed to rootle out such information.


JohnR

In one case using this particular Act the information I reqested was claimed to have been deliberately shreded especially so that I couldn't get my hands on it! I suggest you try Wollaton Hall BRC at Nottingham for details of Nottinghamshire's scientific critera for determining SINC designation and then pass this on to me. I've never had any luck.

Martin

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Re: Surreptitious Science:

Postby Martin White » Sat Aug 13, 2011 3:59 pm

Bill S wrote:
Martin White wrote:[size=150]Well the short answer to these questions is: - I’m completely satisfied with my own expertise, scientific scrutiny and personal methodology.


Well your own science must be fine then. :shock:

You seem to be adopting a moral high ground on the basis of flawed science in others but your own work has not been peer reviewed. That isn't a strong position to take.

Bill


Bill

I absolutely agree

Martin

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Re: Surreptitious Science:

Postby Paul Wetton » Sat Aug 13, 2011 4:37 pm

Martin

Do you only introduce genetic strains that are indigenous to Britain or a particular area. My worry is that irrespective of whether you judge your experiments to be successful or failures the long term effects of introducing a new genetic strain of a species to a particular area could possibly have disastrous effects on the long term future of the species countrywide where you have been successful in introducing a species to an area.

Devils advocate at work here, but if you are highly successful and introduce a genetic strain of a species that is highly successful itself and spreads throughout the British Countryside removing previous genes that have been successful in their own right for many generations. You could introduce a genetic strain that is prone to a specific disease that ensures that the whole population of a species could be in future years be completely wiped out, even after your own demise. I would judge then that although you may have passed away thinking you had been extremely successful you were in fact in this case a complete failure.

This is not an attack on what you do and I do not know your methodology but I do hope that much consideration is taken on your part before beginning an introduction.
Cheers Paul
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Re: Mission Not So Impossible

Postby Gibster » Sat Aug 13, 2011 7:37 pm

By crikey Martin, you don't often say much...but when you do!!!!
Raising £10,000 for Butterfly Conservation by WALKING 1200 miles from Land's End to John O'Groats!!!
See http://www.justgiving.com/epicbutterflywalk or look up Epic Butterfly Walk on Facebook.

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Re: Mission Not So Impossible

Postby David M » Sat Aug 13, 2011 8:25 pm

I get the distinct impression that, maverick though he seems to be, he knows his stuff better than practically anyone.

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Re: Mission Not So Impossible

Postby Martin White » Mon Aug 15, 2011 6:34 pm

David M wrote:I get the distinct impression that, maverick though he seems to be, he knows his stuff better than practically anyone.


If I know my stuff better than "practically" anyone, as the first and possibly only person ever to be professionally employed as a County Butterfly Recorder then I strongly believe the good people who paid my wages (Nottingham City Council) jolly well require a refund. :(

Martin

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Re: Surreptitious Science:

Postby Martin White » Sat Aug 20, 2011 4:05 pm

Paul,

Yes, I do introduce genetic strains that are not sourced from Britain into Britain. Although, very rarely and only then under very special circumstances. I have also helped introduce a multitude of British butterfly strains all over Europe including two very recently above the Arctic Circle, plenty in Japan, and at one site in Canada. As of yet none to the Southern Hemisphere, though.

One of the greatest tools available, possibly the greatest, to the introductionist is the use of hybrid stocks. At two very complex sites I have deliberately “engineered” the butterfly’s phenotype to better withstand global warming. (But not, deliberately, the genotype.) Virtually all newly introduced colonies or re-enforcements immediately dip from their scion-number for an average of three generations. My current thinking on this is the genes reacting to their new environment or ecology. Subsequent increases then suggest equilibrium in genetic conformity with their environment. (One of the aforementioned “engineered” sites increased 700 percent above a nearby control over c.5 years.) It is however the speed of this change which needs much further explanation. I believe this is way above any current understanding proffered by the majority within the butterfly scientific community and many may well find it very, very upsetting and difficult to accept. There is huge scope for further investigation here, not least by myself. I find your theory (which is widespread) on deleterious genes very difficult to equate with my research. Stocks with hybrid vigour (or a bigger genetic base) are far more likely to withstand the impact of disease (or whatever) than those that are not. I can think of hundreds of examples, but the insular North American Indians huge mortality against Small-pox is one which is rather well understood. Your theory would place these people (now, a vigorous hybrid population) in very great peril. I strongly suggest if you still truly believe your theory is correct and mine not, then write to these people expressing your concerns.

Martin

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Re: Surreptitious Science:

Postby Paul Wetton » Sat Aug 20, 2011 5:26 pm

Hi Martin

Thanks for your answer that alays my fears to some extent in that your genotypes are slected to increase the gene pool. Lets keep our fingers crossed that long term effects of these introductions continue to profit the species involved.
Cheers Paul
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Re: Surreptitious Science:

Postby Gibster » Sat Aug 20, 2011 8:09 pm

Regards Martin's reply above...I have been told that internet etiquette demands that no person should respond to a posting whilst "all het up" but should first calm down, construct a rational and civilised response and save any awkward unpleasantries. Hence I shall go away and come back later.

Gibster.
Raising £10,000 for Butterfly Conservation by WALKING 1200 miles from Land's End to John O'Groats!!!
See http://www.justgiving.com/epicbutterflywalk or look up Epic Butterfly Walk on Facebook.

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Re: Surreptitious Science:

Postby David M » Sat Aug 20, 2011 9:17 pm

Bugger the etiquette. This guy has much knowledge to offer and I personally love reading it.

Historically, those who were abnormally unorthodox often made the greatest contribution to political and social change.

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Re: Surreptitious Science:

Postby Pete Eeles » Sat Aug 20, 2011 9:45 pm

Without specifics it's difficult to comment since any concern would be largely species-specific. However, I do agree with Paul's sentiments, that introducing non-native genes artificially into the gene pool (without good reason and good planning) is arguably a high-risk strategy since there could (I imagine) be the prospect of any introduction having a negative effect, as well as positive.

I could understand doing this when a species is on its last legs - such as the Cumbrian Marsh Fritillary being crossed with stock from other regions, or when reintroducing a species that has been lost altogether (e.g. Large Blue from Sweden, Chequered Skipper from France, Large Copper from the Netherlands), but would hate to see the "races" that have adapted to the environment in the British Isles over tens of thousands of years disappear as a result of genetic experimentation!

Given your experience, Martin, I'm sure you're more careful than that!? I'd also be interested in the purpose of introducing non-native strains both in Britain and elsewhere - or since you mention global warming, the evidence that suggests certain species need help adjusting to this.

Cheers,

- Pete


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