• Countdown to 2010: Can we assess Ireland’s insect species diversity and loss?

      Regan, Eugenie; Nelson, Brian; McCormack, Stephen; Nash, Robert; O'Connor, James P (Royal Irish Academy, 03/09/2010)
      The insects are the most diverse organisms on this planet and play an essential role in ecosystem functioning, yet we know very little about them. In light of the Convention on Biological Diversity, this paper summarises the known insect species numbers for Ireland and questions whether this is a true refl ection of our insect diversity. The total number of known species for Ireland is 11,422. Using species accumulation curves and a comparison with the British fauna, this study shows that the Irish list is incomplete and that the actual species number is much higher. However, even with a reasonable knowledge of the species in Ireland, insects are such speciose, small, and inconspicuous animals that it is diffi cult to assess species loss. It is impossible to know at one point in time the number of insect species in Ireland and, although it is useful to summarise the known number of species, it is essential that biodiversity indicators, such as the Red List Index, are developed.
    • Essential elements and heavy metal concentrations in a small area of the Castlecomer Plateau, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland: Implications for animal performance.

      Canty, M.J.; McCormack, Stephen; Lane, E.A.; Collins, D.M.; More, Simon J (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2011)
      Many ruminants are solely or mostly dependant for their nutrients, including essential elements, on the forage available to them, either in its natural state or conserved as hay or silage. A soil and herbage survey was carried out in April and September 2007, in a 3.1 km × 3.0 km grid, incorporating 106 and 46 sampling points, respectively, on the Castlecomer Plateau, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland. The aim was to determine the nutrient and heavy metal status of soil and herbage in the sampling area, and to examine the concentrations observed for their potential to impact on animal performance. Low soil pH and high soil lime requirements were identified within the sampling area. The concentrations of Ca, Cu, Se and Zn were low in both soil and herbage. These conditions are similar to those found on other farms in Ireland. Fluoride was detected in 61 of the 97 herbage samples in April 2007, but only four exceeded 40 mg/kg dry matter, the maximum tolerable level for cattle. Mineral imbalances (Ca, Cu, Se and Zn) observed in pastures caused by low soil mineral status, exacerbated by low soil pH, could impair animal performance in the area studied.