This ant has been rare since it was first recorded in the UK. It was confined to a few sites around the Bournemouth and Wareham areas of Dorset but, despite a number of informal searches, there have been no sightings of this species since the 1980s, when two last known colonies in the Morden area disappeared. A population still exists on cliff top sites on the Channel Islands. This species has recently been considered to be the same species as F. nigricans, which has not been recorded reliably from the UK.
The black-backed meadow ant is widespread in Europe but is declining. It is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN/WCMC and as Endangered in the GB Red List. It is possibly now extinct in the UK.
Current factors causing loss or decline
Urban development on the heaths and cliff tops around Bournemouth.
Inappropriate management and excessive encroachment of scrub on open heath and rough grass. This may lead to the subsequent invasion of competitive southern wood ants (F. rufa).
Proposals are currently being considered for a captive breeding programme with a view to re-introduction to protected sites.
Action plan objectives and targets
Maintain all remaining populations
Restore 10 populations to suitable former sites by the year 2005
Proposed actions with lead agencies
Policy and legislation
If colonies are re-discovered, encourage the uptake of management agreements and incentive schemes for the restoration or enhancement of suitable heathland in areas adjacent to known, or restored, colonies, and encourage the protection and regeneration of heathland within its former range to encourage expansion of existing colonies. (ACTION: NE, MAFF)
Site safeguard and management
Ensure the survival of any re-discovered or re-introduced populations through favourable management of sites. (ACTION: NE)
Seek to restore suitable habitat to former sites, with a view to re-introducing populations within the former range of the species. (ACTION: NE)
Species management and protection
Following further survey and assessment, and the identification of suitable former sites, seek to restore 10 self-sustaining populations within the former range of this ant on the British mainland, by the year 2005, using captive-bred individuals as necessary.
If the species is re-discovered, ensure the land owners or managers are aware of the presence and importance of conserving the species, and appropriate methods of management to maintain and enhance populations. (ACTION: NE)
Future Research and Monitoring
Undertake a thorough systematic survey for the species to confirm its distribution and conservation status by the year 2000. (ACTION: NE)
Encourage investigation and confirm the taxonomic status of the species by the year 2005. (ACTION: ITE)
If re-introduction proves necessary, promote research to determine the most appropriate means. (ACTION: NE)
Encourage research on the habitat requirements of this species, including colony foundation, genetic variation and integrity, methods of artificially rearing this species and the myrecophile fauna associated with colonies. (ACTION: NE)
Encourage research on the ecology and conservation of this species at an international level and use the information and experience gained towards its conservation both in the UK and internationally. (ACTION: NE, JNCC)
If re-discovered in the UK, encourage monitoring of extant populations and seek to identify any other threats to the species. (ACTION: NE)
Pass information gathered during survey and monitoring of this species to JNCC or BRC so that it can be incorporated in national databases. (ACTION: NE)
Provide information annually to the World Conservation Monitoring Centre on the UK status of the species to contribute to maintenance of an up-to-date global red lists. (ACTION: JNCC)
Communications and Publicity
No action proposed.
Links with other action plans
Originally published in: Biodiversity: The UK Steering Group Report - Volume II: Action Plans (December 1995, Tranche 1, Vol 2, p142)
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