Douglas Boyes is dead, brilliant and dedicated young scientist

We at Butterfly Conservation were deeply saddened to learn of the recent sudden loss of Douglas Boyes. A brilliant and dedicated young scientist, he was also a kind and generous colleague to those he worked with.

Growing up in the Welsh countryside surrounded by wild animals, I have always been interested in the natural world. In July 2009, TV naturalist Nick Baker and I participated in a field research committee course. He first introduced me to the magic of trapping moths. Soon thereafter, I got my own light trap and started identifying moths in the garden.

Over time, my understanding of common large moths and miniature moths continued to deepen, and I began to identify more humble small moths through genital testing and early-stage searches. Since then, I have discovered that my garden is home to more than 800 species of moths. Since learning to drive, I have been able to explore the least-known areas of central Wales; in the process, the county has produced tens of thousands of More than 120 new species were recorded and discovered.

In 2013, I took over the position of Butterfly Recorder in Montgomery County and set out to increase the number and coverage of records throughout the county, and produce a digital atlas to highlight the areas with the least adequate records. Since assuming this role, this has resulted in a three-fold increase in annual records.

At the same time, I completed my GCSE and A-Level, and later studied biological sciences at Brasenos College, Oxford. I graduated with first-class honors in July 2017 (one of my proudest achievements comes from a humble state school). I went on to study an interdisciplinary master’s degree in biodiversity, conservation and management at Oxford University.

In October 2018, I started to study for a PhD funded by NERC at Wallingford, the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH). I am investigating the effect of street lights on moths. The project-which also involves Newcastle University and butterfly conservation-will require field trips and DNA meta-barcoding to build an ecological network, as well as new analysis of existing long-term data sets. I currently live in Oxfordshire, where I provide training and public participation activities. I am currently conducting a baseline survey of moths in Wytham Woods, a famous ancient woodland at Oxford University. I am also collecting moth specimens there for the Darwin Tree of Life Project, which ultimately aims to sequence the entire genomes of all species found in U.K.

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