Historic and Modern distribution in Britain and abroad, of the endangered and declining Beachcomber Beetle Eurynebria complanata
The Beachcomber Beetle Eurynebria complanata is one of the largest and most impressive carabid beetles beetle found in Britain, which is the ‘Type Locality’ (i.e. first discovered here in the 1700s). It inhabits undisturbed marine strandlines, as a nocturnal predator of crustaceans, stranded fish and other marine life.
It was formerly common on both sides of the Severn Estuary as well as County Wexford, Eire, and the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts of France, Iberia and North Africa.
In recent decades the species has disappeared from most of its known localities. It was lost from former North Devon or Somerset sites around 2000, and also disappeared from French Atlantic Coast and most Mediterranean localities, only remaining abundant in South Wales and the Atlantic Coasts of Iberia. Factors like beach cleaning, pollution and climate change have been invoked, but for example, the South Wales (Swansea) localities where it persists, have suffered more anthropogenic disturbance than the North Somerset and Devon localities where it has vanished, so its decline, like that of many insects, is poorly understood.
The Natural History Museum has over 300 specimens dating to the 1700s, mostly with accurate locality information. This is an opportunity for a student to produce a publication mapping its historical distribution and comparing it to modern distribution (obtained from e.g. I-Naturalist/NBN Gateway). This information on former distribution will shed light on reasons for its decline, and identify areas where where targeted searches could discover overlooked or ‘lost’ populations of this charismatic but globally threatened beetle.
This project is based at the NHM and the successful candidate will be required to be on site Monday-Friday.