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Introduction to ecosystems
Introduction to ecosystems

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5.4 Conserving a rare species

The fen-raft spider (Dolomedes plantarius) was only discovered in the UK in 1956. It is very rare and its distribution prior to 1956 is not known. This throws up some interesting questions about a re-introduction programme, since the habitats into which spiders are released may – or may not – have originally had the spider in.

Think about the implications, before watching the next video and learning more about the re-introduction programme.

Habitat restoration and managed re-introduction are two techniques that are key to conserving individual species. The fen-raft spider is an endangered species, as Dr Helen Smith and Chris Sperring explain in the video.

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Activity 1

What is the significance of joined-up habitats in a conservation programme?

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Connecting back together a lot of habitats can create huge areas for wildlife. So introducing species at one site, and other nearby sites, is like laying stepping stones to start to create a much bigger joined-up population and to utilise a larger network. In highly developed countries land becomes fragmented so corridors that link conservation areas are crucial to maintaining diversity. If the climate changes, such corridors can provide migration routes to, for example, cooler habitats.

You can find out more about the fen raft spider online [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

Figure 2 The fen raft spider (Dolomedes plantarius)