Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre
CSurvey for Flower Flies, Deer & Horse Flies and Moths
The documentation of biodiversity is fundamental to conservation. Baseline data on specie' presence and abundance is necessary to derive provincial conservation status ranks (aka General status ranks) for species, and aids in the identification of sites of high conservation value. Given that our habitats are being altered by climate change, there is an urgency to document this baseline data so that changes to the Island's biodiversity can be monitored over time.
In 2020, insect surveys targeting flower flies (Syrphidae), deer and horse flies (Tabanidae), and moths (Lepidoptera) were undertaken across PEI by the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre (AC CDC) and volunteers. These groups have had their conservation statuses assessed at the provincial level as part of the WildSpecies program (see www.wildspecies.ca/), but nearly all of their species are considered unrankable at the provincial level for a lack of data. The data gathered during the survey will allow for more accurate conservation status assessments.
The primary focus of the surveys was moths. This is because the prime time to survey for deer and horse flies, and especially flower flies, is late spring and early summer, and AC CDC staff were unable to travel to the Island because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
During the 2020 survey, over 2,500 moth, flower fly, and deer fly specimens were collected. Most (about 1,900 specimens) are moths collected in a light trap that was run on 16 nights in 15 locations across the province and in variety of habitat types, from bog to mature hardwood forest. Over 400 specimens and 5,000 photographs were submitted by nine volunteers.
The survey documented at least 45 species that had never been documented on PEI before (16 flower flies, nine deer and horse flies, and at least 20 moths). A highlight of the survey was the discovery of Fee's Mucksucker (Orthonevra feei) near Corraville. This flower fly had never been recorded in Canada before, and it has otherwise only been reported from a single location in northern New Hampshire! (see https://bdj.pensoft.net/article/36673/ for the species' description.)
The most significant result of the project is all the species occurrences documented. The surveys will produce around 1,000 novel records (species X location X date) that will be applied to General Status ranking. It is likely that more than 100 insect species previously deemed unrankable will be properly assessed. The final compilation of the results will be completed in the winter and spring of 2021 (several hundred moths remain to be identified, some volunteer collected specimens have yet to be submitted, and records need to be incorporated into the ACCDC database). Once the results are complete they will be applied to species conservation ranking.