A hole in the heart of Holtsvillage is a common sight in Ireland, but scientists have discovered one in its northern suburbs.
Scientists have been studying the behaviour of insects in Holtsbridge, which has a population of about 1,000, for the past two years.
The hole in Holsbridge is called a burrow.
It’s located at the foot of the hill, just a few metres from a road that crosses the site.
“We can see what the insect larvae are doing on the ground, on the hilltop and from a few meters up the hill.
It’s fascinating to see how different these species behave,” Dr Helen O’Brien from the Department of Biological Sciences at Trinity College Dublin said.
Dr O’Briens work with Irish native species, such as the woodlouse, has also been featured on BBC Science and has attracted the interest of several international scientific institutions.
Dr James MacMillan from the National Museums Ireland (NMII) said the discovery is exciting and could lead to better understanding of the life cycle of the burrows.
“The burrows are quite important because they are used to attract insects, they are very important for maintaining the insect population, and so it’s quite a special place to be for the species that are there,” he said.
The NMII will use the results to better understand how species and ecosystems interact to provide information for the health and wellbeing of native species.
The discovery comes just days after the Irish Times published a story on how a hole in a hilltop near the town of Holtbridge could be linked to the extinction of the native woodlice.
The Irish Times article highlighted a hole on the Holtvillage’s hillside, which is believed to be the source of the wood lice population’s decline.
“It was discovered in December 2016 by an aerial survey.
There is a hole of about 15m by 15m on the south side of the road from where we are driving down the hill to the Burrows,” Dr O’Reilly said.”
I’m pretty excited about it.”
The burrow hole has also attracted the attention of a number of international scientific organisations, including the Natural History Museum, which recently launched a research project to investigate how species use the hole to feed.
The research will take place over two weeks in November, and is expected to be published in a peer-reviewed journal in February 2019.