Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Can blue tits can save our conker trees?

Date:
August 30, 2012
Source:
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Summary:
Blue tits, a familiar garden bird in the U.K., could be the salvation of our imperiled conker trees (horse-chestnut trees), which are under severe attack by a tiny non-native moth that has spread from continental Europe.

A blue tit in front of horse-chestnut leaves that are covered with brown patches of damage caused by the caterpillars of the leaf mining moths.
Credit: Richard Broughton/CEH

Blue tits, a familiar garden bird, could be the salvation of our imperiled conker trees (horse-chestnut trees), which are under severe attack by a tiny non-native moth that has spread from continental Europe.

Conker fans from across the country are being called upon to discover how many of the moth's caterpillars, hidden inside the leaves, are being discovered and preyed upon by birds.

The leaf-mining moth arrived in London just ten years ago, and has since spread across most of England and Wales. The moth caterpillars eat the leaves while hiding inside them, so damaging the leaves and causing them to turn brown and making the tree appear as if autumn has come early.

Experts at the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the University of Hull are asking for the public's help to find out how many moth caterpillars are eaten by birds, such as blue tits. They are asking volunteers to check leaves from a horse chestnut tree for the distinctive damage caused by the birds to the leaf mines and report it through the Conker Tree Science website.

Dr Michael Pocock, from the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said, "It's a big mission and we're reliant on people's help to discover how much birds are feeding on the alien moths."

"Excitingly, this mission was inspired by comments from some of the 8000 people who have taken part in previous Conker Tree Science missions. It's a great example of professional scientists and members of the public working together."

Dr Darren Evans from the University of Hull added, "The traditional game of conkers may be under threat, because trees infected with the alien moth produce smaller conkers. In discovering whether garden birds, like blue tits, can help to protect conker trees, we will also be learning more about the behaviour of the birds themselves."

The alien moth, which was discovered in the 1980s, has caterpillars that live inside the leaves, forming distinctive patches of damage called 'leaf mines'. Up to 700 leaf mines have been recorded on a single leaf and the damage caused by large numbers of larvae can be striking. A previous Conker Tree Science mission discovered that predatory wasps were not effectively controlling the alien moths, possibly explaining their rapid spread.

This project, where anyone can get involved with genuine scientific research, is one of the largest of its kind in the UK and is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

People can take part in the new 'Bird Attack' mission from 30th August 2012 to 23rd September 2012. More information: http://www.conkertreescience.org.uk/


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. "Can blue tits can save our conker trees?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120830065739.htm>.
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. (2012, August 30). Can blue tits can save our conker trees?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120830065739.htm
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. "Can blue tits can save our conker trees?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120830065739.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins