Mistletoe sightings - and other mistletoe data

Information on how to record mistletoe sightings in general - and on recording mistletoe insects etc

There is no general mistletoe survey running at present - but we will be posting information on where to send interesting mistletoe records during the winter of 2015/16. So do come back to the site later in the autumn.

For now (October 2015 onwards), if you have mistletoe in an orchard or garden, or have mistletoe on several varieties of fruit tree, please take a look at the mistletoe surveys specific to those subject areas - these are all part of the ongoing Mistletoe League projects, links to each one are in the menu above.

We will also, from next summer (2016) be posting some advice on recording mistletoe's six rare insects - so come back in spring 2016 to see that.a

The text below gives some background on some recent regional mistletoe surveys - for full information on the national survey in the 1990s click here.

Many regional, county-based and other local mistletoe surveys have been organised since the 1990s National Survey. Examples include surveys organised by county Wildlife Trusts (e.g. Norfolk, Herefordshire etc) and surveys of particular mistletoe populations outside of the main mistletoe areas (e.g. studies in Richmond, Essex, Cambridge and Dublin).

Some of these local studies have produced interesting and intriguing results, suggesting that mistletoe is spreading faster than usual in some relatively isolated eastern mistletoe colonies (particularly in Richmond, Essex and Cambridge). These results may simply be reflecting a natural increase in spread as mistletoe berry numbers increase (each plant produces double the number of flowers, and therefore double the berries each year, so accelerating spread might be normal) but, as some of these populations are already over a century old and have not shown this behaviour before, it may be that other factors are responsible.

One possibility is climate change - modelling using mistletoe's climatic preferences suggests that it will spread eastwards in Britain and northeast-wards in mainland Europe with expected climate change. So this could explain new spread in the east. An alternative and/or additional explanation is a change in bird vectors, which may themselves be due to climate change. Overwintering Blackcaps, which are very efficient mistletoe spreaders, have increased from a handful to many thousands in Britain in recent decades, and these birds may well be affecting mistletoe spread. More details on some of these issues are available in our Information Sheets.

About this project:

This is one of several survey projects launched as the Mistletoe League in 2011/12. The overall project is an initiative from Mistletoe Matters, a small mistletoe consultancy in Gloucestershire, England. It has arisen following many years of witnessing the mistletoe/fruit tree problems apparently worsening, but with no hard data to quantify the problem. Rapid results are not anticipated! The project is likely to run for several years, building up more information each winter season from 2011/12 onwards.

Results will be available in the public domain when sufficient data have been collected.

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