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Threatened Species - Stag Beetle

The stag beetle is Britain's largest and most distinctive insect. The distribution of the stag beetle has been declining nationally during the past 50 years. Mainly confined to the south east of England with a few scattered colonies in central and south-west England and in Wales. It is now nationally scarce (less than 100 of the 10 km squares of the OS grid) and believed to still be declining.

A national survey carried out in 1998 confirmed three core areas for the species:east Dorset / south Hampshire / west Sussex; Greater London / west Surrey /east Berkshire / north Kent; and north-east Essex / south Suffolk. Only a few isolated colonies or individuals reported from elsewhere in the south and south west of the UK where it is believed to have been more widespread in the past The current distribution pattern shows an affinity for coastal areas and low-lying river corridors in the warmer, drier parts of the UK but apparently avoiding areas of chalk and clay soils.

The stag beetle is listed by the UK Steering Group as a Globally Threatened / Declining species and is protected under Annex IIa of the EU Habitats Directive and Appendix III of the Bern Convention. From April 1998 the stag beetle also became protected under Schedule 5 of the UK's Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Factors causing loss or decline:

  • Loss of broad-leaved woodland and parkland through, for example, clear-felling and coniferisation.
  • Habitat loss, in particular, through the felling of ancient trees, removal of dead wood from living trees;
  • Destruction or removal of standing and fallen dead wood for reasons as forest hygiene, aesthetic tidiness, public safety or for use as fire wood;
  • Collecting has been considered a major threat in Europe.
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