'Lost world' of rare species in Highlands' forest

Strawberry spider Dundreggan could hold Scotland's largest population of strawberry spider

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A forest in the Highlands holds a "lost world" of rare and endangered spiders, ants and flies, according the charity that owns the woodland.

Forres-based Trees for Life said surveys of the woods on its 10,000-acre Dundreggan Estate in Glen Moriston had uncovered a range of invertebrates.

Finds include strawberry spider, azure hawker dragonfly, juniper shield bug and blood red slave making ants.

Trees for Life bought the estate in a £1.6m deal in 2008.

The land includes some of the last stands of ancient Caledonian Forest.

Trees for Life said strawberry spider, scientific name araneus alsine, has only been recorded seven times in Scotland prior to it being found at Dundreggan.

Juniper sawfly larvae. Pic: Alan Watson Larva of monoctenus juniperi, a rare sawfly found in the forest

The charity believed its forest could have the largest population of the spider in Scotland.

Two rare sawflies, prisiphora borea and monoctenus juniperi, have also been identified and are among the UK's rarest invertebrates.

Alan Watson Featherstone, executive director of Trees for Life, said the list of species had been released to help mark 2010 International Year of Biodiversity.

He said: "The remarkable discoveries at Dundreggan are rapidly establishing its reputation as a 'lost world' for the Highlands, inhabited by an important range of species that are rare or were once thought to be extinct locally.

"Given the loss of biodiversity globally, the richness of life on the estate highlights the importance of on-the-ground conservation projects, and the urgency of restoring Scotland's Caledonian Forest to the Highlands."

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