The Rothamsted Insect Survey

Lead Research Organisation: Rothamsted Research
Department Name: Unlisted

Abstract

The Rothamsted Insect Survey comprises 2 national trap networks which provide the most extensive long-term standardised data on terrestrial invertebrates in the world. It has 3 major components:
1) trap networks
2) the sample archive
3) the database
The data are used in a wide range of fundamental and applied studies and have led to numerous high impact and high profile publications. The networks comprise 11 suction traps and 83 light traps. Suction traps are emptied weekly in winter but daily at other times. Samples are sent to Rothamsted where aphids are identified to species, species group or genus. Light traps are emptied daily throughout the year and all the macrolepidoptera identified. Samples from 64 of the sites are processed by trap operators or amateurs with proven taxonomic skills. Identification of samples from the remaining traps is outsourced. A SQL database for the data from both trap networks is being developed and will facilitate easier access to the data for ourselves and external users.
Data is being made available for use in fundamental and applied projects to, for example:
-observe, model and predict population dynamics in relation to environmental factors
-observe and model population genetics and predict the spread of genotypes in relation to environmental and management factors
-understand the roles that migration and dispersal play in the population dynamics of economically-important pest insects and their natural enemies
-provide data to test ecological hypotheses
-detect insecticide resistance mechanisms and predict their geographical spread
-understand the epidemiology of insect-borne plant, animal and human viruses
-provide information of immediate benefit to crop growers in relation to pest management
-examine changes in biodiversity over long time periods and large areas
-understand and predict the impacts of climatic and other environmental changes on the above.
In 2014 the Rothamsted Insect Survey commemorates 50 years of continuous operation.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title Giant aphid model 
Description We have created a 750:1 scale model of Myzus persicae (Sulzer), the Peach-Potato Aphid. This is the world's most serious aphid pest. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact We use the model to inform farmers, school children etc during KT, how aphids work in terms of behaviour including reproduction, sensing and flight. The model is new so the impacts have yet to be felt. 
 
Description To be completed towards end of grant.

25th September 2014
The Rothamsted Insect Survey operates two networks of traps, suction-traps (15) primarily for understanding changes occurring in aphid populations in time and space, and light-traps (84) which provide the same information on moths. The data are used internally and for a wide range of external projects, spanning the full spectrum of fundamental to applied science. Discoveries and uses include:
The timing and size of the spring migration of many pest aphid species is strongly correlated with temperature in January and February. This makes it possible to provide predictions for growers and to assess the likely impacts of climate change on pest problems.
Aphid migrations have advanced by approximately two thirds of a day per year over the past 50 years. In other words they start flying on average a month earlier now than they did 50 years ago.
The insecticide resistance status of aphids found in suction- traps can be tested. Four mechanisms, each conferring resistance to a different class of insecticide, are present in the peach-potato aphid, which is an important pest of potato, sugar beet and brassicas. We can track the prevalence of resistance mechanisms in time and space and hence support decisions of the deployment of insecticides. The grain aphid has recently become resistant to pyrethroids, the main group of insecticides used to control it and barley yellow dwarf virus which it transmits. Our samples show that the resistance mutation was present at least as early as 2009 and is now common throughout the country.
We can also detect the presence of plant viruses in aphids and advise on their prevalence.
All samples from suction-traps are stored and we are able to look at other insects, or make samples available so that others can do this. This has been done with the midge vectors of bluetongue disease of sheep and cattle (with The Pirbright Institute), natural enemies of aphids (with various organisations), pollinator flies (with The University of Hamburg), Empids (dance flies) and other groups of insects.
The aphid data have helped to demonstrate that the nature of defence compounds in plants can be governed by the species of insect feeding on them.
The light-trap data have shown that two thirds of our common larger moth species have declined significantly over the past 50 years, especially in southern Britain. This is worrying as moths are important components of the food chain. However, one third of species has become more abundant. The reasons for the changes are being investigated and will inform conservation strategy.
Exploitation Route To be completed towards end of grant.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment

URL http://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/insect-survey
 
Description The Rothamsted Insect Survey was establish in 1964 to provide information to farmers, crop consultants and industry to reduce the prophylactic use of insecticdes. We continue doing that work today. It has been estimated that economic losses as a result of aphid feeding and vectoring of viruses could on average be £190 million pa. To reduce that impact we communicate with farmers directly and through levy boards (AHDB, BBRO) and crop consults to ensure that a targetted application of insecticides is synchronised with aphid migration patterns, therefore reducing the likelihood of resistance evolution. The overall impact of this is incredibly hard to value. We have recorded our activities elsewhere in the portal, but for completeness the activities are: Produced the following bulletins and wrote newsletters for the agricultural industry, covering aphid phenology, abundance, distribution and insecticide resistance status: • 33 aphid data bulletins available freely on the Rothamsted web site. • 36 news sheets and updates for AHDB on aphid pests which are then published unchanged weekly on AHDB, HDC/Syngenta and PGRO websites. • 20 news sheets for BBRO on sugar beet aphids. The Rothamsted Insect Survey also records moths and we recognise the societal value of this group and their role as pollinators. Since 1964 we have been recording moth popualtion dynamics and have produced many reports, most notably The State of Britain's Larger Moths 2013 http://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/news/declines-uk-moth-species-could-signal-potentially-catastrophic-loss-biodiversity-british. This is an important activity that feeds into shaping policy. Note that above pulication and its predecessor were recorded as Early day motions in Hansard. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/1303 and http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2005-06/1999
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description Citation in IPCC 5th Assessment
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact We published a paper titled Thackeray, S. J., Sparks, T. H., Frederiksen, M., Burthe, S., Bacon, P. J., Bell, J. R., Botham, M. S., Brereton, T. M., Bright, P. W., Carvalho, L., Clutton-Brock, T., Dawson, A., Edwards, M., Elliott, J. M., Harrington, R., Johns, D., Jones, I. D., Jones, J. T., Leech, D. I., Roy, D. B., Scott, W. A., Smith, M., Smithers, R. J., Winfield, I. J. & Wanless, S. (2010) Trophic level asynchrony in rates of phenological change for marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments. Global Change Biology 16: 3304-3313. This paper used Rothamsted Insect Survey data on moths and aphids and other Uk data to make statements about climate change for the IPCC 5th Assessment. It was cited in chapters 4 (Terrestrial systems) and 6 (Oceans). The impact of the report and its findings are described here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPCC_Fifth_Assessment_Report. Notably, the IPCC's world impact has been to curb emissions and change the way humans use resources.
URL http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/
 
Description Early Day Motions in the Houses of Parliament on "DECLINE IN BRITAIN'S MOTH POPULATION"
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
URL http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/1303
 
Description State of Britain's Larger Moths
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
 
Description State of Nature
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact The report was the most comprehensive ever produced on the state of nature in the UK. Our contribution related to moths. The high-profile report launch was widely reported in the press and the report is expected to influence policy of biodiversity. It is impossible to isolate the impacts of this report from other activities relating to biodiversity.
URL http://www.rspb.org.uk/stateofnature
 
Description AHDB Research Grants
Amount £600,000 (GBP)
Organisation Agricultural and Horticulture Development Board 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2014 
End 03/2019
 
Description BBRO Research Grants
Amount £387,274 (GBP)
Funding ID 13/01 
Organisation British Beet Research Organisation 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2013 
End 03/2017
 
Description DTP PhD Investigating the mechanisms behind moth declines: plants, landscape, pollution and climate.
Amount £80,000 (GBP)
Funding ID ENV16594 
Organisation Envision Design 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2016 
End 03/2020
 
Description Detection and monitoring of psyllid vectors of Candidatus Liberibacter Solanacearum in Scotland
Amount £263,045 (GBP)
Organisation Government of Scotland 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2015 
End 01/2017
 
Description GCRF-Impact Acceleration Accounts (GCRF-IAAs) to support RRES-IRRI workshop strengthening links with the rice nutrition and sustainability programmes
Amount £34,469 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/GCRF-IAA/18 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2016 
End 02/2017
 
Description NERC Responsive mode
Amount £464,627 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/N015711/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2017 
End 08/2019
 
Description NSF/BBSRC partnership project "Spatial Epidemiology of a Vector-Borne Plant Virus"
Amount £9,813 (GBP)
Organisation University of St Andrews 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2013 
End 09/2018
 
Description Reading DTP Modelling the temporal and spatial ecology of the oilseed rape pest Meligethes aeneus; implications for integrated pest management strategies
Amount £80,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 1520450 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2014 
End 09/2020
 
Description SWBIO DTP Nutrient-specific foraging and the role of spiders as aphid predators
Amount £80,000 (GBP)
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2016 
End 05/2020
 
Description Suitcase suction trap with nanopore technology
Amount £45,000 (GBP)
Organisation Rothamsted Research 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2016 
End 12/2017
 
Title PAUL 
Description Insect database for recording samples identified from traps. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2012 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Fundamental and applied studies on insect population dynamics. 
URL http://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/insect-survey
 
Title Rothamsted Insect Survey Data Requests 
Description The Rothamsted Insect Survey's long-term data are of unquestionable importance providing information on aphids, larger moths and many other migrating insects to academia, growers, conservation organisations and individuals. As such these data have a wide range of fundamental and applied uses. As of 2016, we now record and track RIS data. In the last 12 months, 2,829,019 records have been sent to 26 recipients from 3 countries, including UK, Australia and USA. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2013 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Data used for a wide range of internal and external projects spanning the full fundamental to applied research spectrum. We have documented the papers, grants etc in the corresponding sections within this submission. 
 
Description 6 month Leonardo studentship hosted by Rothamsted with Jesica Perez 
Organisation University of Valencia
Country Spain 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The Rothamsted Insect Survey hosted s Leanardo Studentship for 6 months and provided samples and expertise to investigate the phenology of parasitoids and aphids.
Collaborator Contribution Jesica Perez identified the insects and provided the RIS with data.
Impact PÉREZ-RODRÍGUEZ, J., SHORTALL, C. R. and BELL, J. R. (2015), Large-scale migration synchrony between parasitoids and their host. Ecological Entomology, 40: 654-659. doi: 10.1111/een.12241
Start Year 2013
 
Description Defra Wildcru moth decline 
Organisation University College Oxford
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Provision of time series data on moths from light-trap network and discussion of interpreatation.
Collaborator Contribution Data analysis and report writing.
Impact Report to Natural England
Start Year 2014
 
Description SASA 
Organisation Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture
Department Virology and Zoology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution SASA form part of the network of 12.2 m suction traps, managing the four Scottish traps.
Collaborator Contribution Aphid identification, infrastructure maintenance, dissemination of information
Impact The data form part of the statutory Scottish Seed Potato Classification Scheme and help to determine action required by registered growers.
 
Description Undergraduate Research Opportunity Programme (UROP) 
Organisation University of Reading
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Training.
Collaborator Contribution Through Alice Mauchline, one of the supervisors, we were awarded the funding for an undergraduate placement to work on FERA's cabbage stem flea beetle data.
Impact The student produced data that on an allied beetle pest from FERA collections. These data will support the PhD.
Start Year 2015
 
Description All Media Articles Involving the RIS 2015-present 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact 24/04/2015 Farmers Weekly Turnip yellows virus hits 80% of OSR crop in some regions
07/07/2015 FG Insight Large-scale aphid migration contributing to increased virus pressure
01/08/2015 BBSRC videos Big science from small insects
20/08/2015 Fresh Produce Journal Growers face 'worst aphid infestation in living memory'
25/08/2015 The Dailymail Aphid plague is the worst for ten years: Explosion of the insects could lead to shortage of vegetables including cauliflower and broccoli
25/08/2015 The Grocer British veg shortages predicted as aphids attack crops
25/08/2015 Daily Telegraph Aphid invasion spells disaster for gardeners
05/10/2015 The Independent Nature Studies: Fewer wasps to swat is a sign of an ecosystem in serious trouble
07/10/2015 Farmers Weekly Potato aphids
12/10/2015 Farmers Weekly Turnip yellows virus
26/10/2015 Farmers Weekly Aphid numbers drop thanks to cooler conditions
07/12/2015 Ukrainian Biofuel Portal Grain and rapeseed sowings in the EU: the impact of mild weather conditions
07/12/2015 Phys Org Climate change governs a crop pest, even when populations are far-flung
14/06/2016 1pm BBC News Diamondback moths
14/06/2016 Daily Telgraph Super-moth explosion could wipe out cabbage and cauliflower crops
14/06/2016 Daily Mail Crop warning over arrival in big numbers of 'pest' moths
14/06/2016 Daily Mail A 'biblical' explosion of moths could wipe out cabbage and cauliflower crops in Britain
14/06/2016 Farmers Weekly Diamondback moth explosion threatens brassica crops
14/06/2016 Irish Independent Crop warning over arrival in big numbers of 'pest' moths
14/06/2016 BBC News 'Biblical' moth influx threatens to devastate crops
14/06/2016 Plymouth Herald Invasion of French moths threatens cabbage crops
14/06/2016 Cornwall Live Invasion of French moths threatens cabbage crops
14/06/2016 Fox News UK faces potential moth infestation of 'biblical' proportions
18/01/2017 International Business Times Wasp plagues are set to hit UK and New Zealand as climate change brings warmer springs
06/02/2017 The Guardian Why climate change is good news for wasps
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016,2017
 
Description Aphid Alerts 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Produced the following bulletins and wrote newsletters for the agricultural industry, covering aphid phenology, abundance, distribution and insecticide resistance status:
• 33 aphid data bulletins available freely on the Rothamsted web site.
• 36 news sheets and updates for AHDB on aphid pests which are then published unchanged weekly on AHDB, HDC/Syngenta and PGRO websites.
• 20 news sheets for BBRO on sugar beet aphids.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016
URL http://cereals.ahdb.org.uk/publications/2014/september/05/integrated-aphid-advisory-alerts.aspx
 
Description Articles in trade journals 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact We wrote, or were quoted in, a large number of articles in the farming press.

A steady stream of enquiries related to aphids in crops.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity Pre-2006,2006,2007,2008,2009,2010,2011,2012,2013,2014
URL http://www.rothansted.ac.uk/insect-survey
 
Description BBC Radio 4 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact BBC4 Unnatural Selection by Adam Hart on the 2/2/2016 concerned insecticide resistance mechansims used by aphids.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06ztq58
 
Description BBRO Training in Advanced Sugar Beet Technology 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Approximately 10 practitioners each year better informed on crop protection issues.

None yet known.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014
 
Description BBRO field days 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The British Beet Research Organisation hosted four field events for growers, which sparked many questions from growers and from me.

Growers learned much about aphid monitoring, forecasting and control. I learnt much from growers about their needs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Cereals 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Engagement with farming community.

Many requests for further information.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014
 
Description Committee on World Food Security 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Lecture at FAO Rome to discuss the research agenda to support adaptation to crop and livestock pests and diseases.

None known specifically in relation to my contribution.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Festival of Ecology 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact As part of the British Ecological Society's "Festival of Ecology" (to celebrate the Centenary of the Society" we contributed to a day for local Secondary School students doing biology A-level.

Not directly from this, but I can't find a suitable category in which to report it, the Insect Survey featured in an AQA GCE AS-level question in the General Sciences paper on Science and Society, June 2013. They had to read a passage on our work (and related BBSRC work) and answer questions to show their understanding.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description National Insect Week 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Schoolchildren and teachers gain a better understanding of the diversity and importance (negative and positive) of insects to humans.

We are almost always asked if the groups can return in the future.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006,2008,2010,2012,2014
URL http://www.nationalinsectweek.co.uk
 
Description Natural curiosities 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Advising on a script for the David Attenborough series "Natural Curiosities". The particular programme was about parthenogenesis.

None to date.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Newsletters to industry 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Weekly newsletters on aphid abundance are made available to crop growers.

Reduced use of insecticides.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity Pre-2006,2006,2007,2008,2009,2010,2011,2012,2013,2014
URL http://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/insect-suevey
 
Description RIS 50 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact An open day was held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Rothamsted Insect Survey. this comprised six lectures, presentation of certificates to our volunteers, unveiling of a plaque and an evening event for the public.

Three radio interviews (Radio 4 Inside Science, Radio 4 Farming Today, Radio Verulam.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/insect-survey
 
Description Requests for insect identification 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We respond as time allows to requests from the public and scientists for identification of insects (20 or so per year).

No feedback.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013,2014
 
Description River Cottage 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We answered a question put by a viewer of the BBC programme "River Cottage" about insects and climate change. The response was broadcast.

None known. Hopefully at least one satisfied viewer.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Rothamsted Diploma in Crop Protection 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Approximately 10 people per year have an improved understanding of crop protection issues.

Hopefully this translates to improved crop protection practice.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013,2014
 
Description Sense about Science 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Better informed public.

Invitation to become a permanent member of the Plant Science Panel.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description The One Show 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A five minute piece on the BBC's "One Show" about our work.

Repeated the following year is a "One Show" highlights series called "Best of Britain".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013
 
Description Use of Social Media 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact To alert farmers and crop consultants and to communicate the news of the Rothamsted Insect Survey we have set up a Twitter account @Rothamsted_RIS
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://twitter.com/Rothamsted_RIS
 
Description Visits to the RIS by learned or professional organisations 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact We continually interact with the science, industrial, professional community. This is not an exhaustive list, but some interactions have included in recent months, for example:

A delegation visited from Agri-Tech Organisation UKTI International delegation to see the working of the Rothamsted Insect Survey (2015)
A delegation from China (HAAS) visited to examine RIS resources (2015)
A small delegation from the University of Rennes visited concerning Pea aphid genetics and the Insect Survey (2015)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016