Fonseca's seed fly under threat

Sand dunes at Coul Links
Sand dunes at Coul Links - photo Craig Allardyce

Fonseca’s seed fly (Botanophila fonsecai) is an anthomyiid fly that is known only from one sand dune system, in East Sutherland, Scotland, and from nowhere else in the world. A significant proportion of its habitat is under threat from a golf course development. Buglife are campaigning to prevent the loss of this unique site, and Dipterists Forum has donated £250 towards the legal costs of doing so. If you would also like to contribute, please go to Buglife's fundraising page.

Craig Macadam, Conservation Director with Buglife, will be giving evidence to the Public Inquiry on the importance of Coul Links for invertebrates and in particular the international importance of Fonseca’s seed fly. We're grateful to Craig for this update:

Plans for a golf course at Coul Links that will impact upon up to 50% of the global range of the fly were approved by Highland Council in June last year, against the advice of their own planning officials and of Scottish Natural Heritage. The Scottish Government subsequently called in the proposals for scrutiny at a Public Inquiry, with evidence being heard over four weeks from 26th February.

Coul Links is one of the last remaining undisturbed dune systems in Scotland. Nationally rare beetles, endangered stiletto flies, and rare lacewings can all be found on the dunes. At least 24 invertebrate species of conservation concern are known from here, and many more may be present; however, by far the most important species is Fonseca's seed fly.

A recent conservation assessment by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has found Fonseca’s seed fly to be globally Endangered. The classification is the second most severe category in the internationally adopted system and is used for species that are likely to become extinct if current threats to their survival are not removed or avoided.

The known population of Fonseca’s seed fly within the proposed golf course at Coul Links is perilously small. It is thought to be closely associated with Ragwort, Sow-thistle and the sand dune systems found in this area. Stabilisation of the dunes and creation of fairways and greens for the proposed golf course will destroy the habitat for the species and further fragment the already fragile population.

For further information on Botanophila fonsecai see the survey report published by Scottish Natural Heritage in 2013:



Botanophila fonsecai museum specimen
The type specimen of Fonseca's seed fly, from the Natural History Museum


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