Conservation and crop protection unite to save the endangered Barberry Carpet moth (SAUNDERS_J19CASE2)
- Research Area Agriculture and Food Security
- Partner The John Innes Centre (JIC)
Dr Diane Saunders -
- Application Deadline 23/04/2019
Common barberry is a native hedgerow plant throughout the UK. However, in the late 19th and early 20th century it was removed from many sites as it was linked to deleterious effects on wheat crops caused by stem rust infection. Stem rust was recently found on barberry in the UK for the first time in many decades, demonstrating that barberry still poses a risk to wheat and barley production in western Europe. Large-scale removal of common barberry has, however, had a knock-on impact on biodiversity with declines in species that are dependent on it for reproduction and survival. One such species is Barberry Carpet (Pareulype berberata), a native moth and Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
As barberry plantings declined this limited the number of local populations, which remain small and are therefore vulnerable to local extinctions. The main aim of this studentship is to develop new knowledge on Barberry Carpet to optimize re-planting strategies and thereby enhance its habitat whilst also minimizing the risk new barberry plantings could pose to escalating cereal rust diversity. The student will work in partnership with the John Innes Centre and Drayton Manor Park to (i) evaluate alternate food sources for Barberry Carpet, (ii) identify suitable plant species mixes to enhance habitat biodiversity, and (iii) develop an optimal barberry re-planting strategy to support a release programme for Barberry Carpet at Drayton Manor. This iCASE studentship will provide a unique opportunity to join a multi-disciplinary research programme and develop skills in conservation, entomology, plant pathology and basic computational biology. The student will also spend a minimum of 3 months at Drayton Manor Park to establish a Barberry Carpet release programme.