Jun 2

Have a look at our new eco-region profile of Wytham Woods, a beautiful area of deciduous woodland and grassland in Oxfordshire, UK. This profile, supported by HSBC as part of the HSBC Climate Partnership, shows the diversity of the flora and fauna in this interesting forest, with stunning imagery and informative species profiles.

Photo of trees in Autumn, Wythm Woods

Trees in Autumn, Wythm Woods

Wytham Woods

Wytham Woods has been owned by the University of Oxford since 1943 and, as a result, the animals and plants found here have been extensively studied. This has also allowed the forest to be kept in its natural state, helping to preserve the site’s beauty.

Wytham Woods comprise three different types of woodland: ancient, secondary, and plantation woodland. Ancient woodland is the UK’s richest habitat for wildlife and contains more threatened species than any other, meaning the preservation of Wytham Woods is extremely important for the UK’s biodiversity.

Marvellous mammals

Photo of badger swimming

The badger is an extremely well studied nocturnal mammal, with many of these studies occurring in Wytham Woods

Wytham Woods has the densest population of badgers in the UK, and has been the site of numerous badger studies. Other mammals found here include the diminutive bank vole and different species of deer, such as fallow deer and muntjac, both of which have been increasing in number within this protected forest.

 Great British birds

Barn owl photo

Barn owls, along with tawny owls, depend on dead or dying trees within woodland for their nest sites

Wytham Woods has plentiful bird life, with many familiar species making home in this forest, including the nocturnal barn owl and the beautiful red-breasted robin, as well as other well-studied species such as the great tit.

Reptiles and amphibians

Grass snake photo

The grass snake, the UK’s largest terrestrial reptile, is protected in the UK by the Wildlife and Countryside Act

Wytham Woods is home to some of the UK’s most interesting reptiles and amphibians, including the grass snake, which occurs in open areas, smooth newts and common frogs, which can both be found within woodland ponds.

Critters and creatures

Common blue butterfly photo

The common blue is the most widespread of the blue butterflies in Britain

Wytham Woods is particularly famed for its diverse invertebrate life, which includes beautiful butterflies, like the common blue and the wood white butterfly, but also for other curious creatures such as the wolf spider. Some 800 butterfly and moth species, 900 species of beetle, and 700 species of bees, wasps, and ants have been recorded in Wytham Woods, which is an incredible amount of biodiversity!

Fascinating flora

Photo of bluebell flowers, Oxfordshire

The bluebell is popularly thought of as Britain's national flower

There are over 500 species of plant found in Wytham Woods, which often looks stunning in the spring, when it has a covering of bluebells. The dominant tree species found here include sycamore, beech, and pedunculate oak, while other plant species include brambles and the beautiful primrose.

Threats and conservation

The main threat facing Wytham Woods, and all of the UK’s woodland, is climate change. This can have detrimental effects such as droughts, which can impact plant growth, and milder winters, which favour introduced species such as the grey squirrel, which cause damage to sycamore trees. Milder winters can also favour the spread of diseases such as Dutch elm disease, which has severely affected elm populations within Wytham Woods.

Infant rabbits photo

Myxomatosis is a disease which devastated the rabbit population in Wytham Woods in the 1950s

Almost all of the UK’s native woodland has been damaged by or lost to agriculture and development, meaning the conservation of Wytham Woods is of great importance. The scientific research currently taking place in Wytham Woods is vital in the fight against climate change, as scientists can investigate how the changing climate is affecting these woods and how we can help increase its resilience. Wytham Woods is a beautiful area in the heart of the UK and an important habitat for many rare and charismatic species found in the UK, so it is easy to see why it is worth preserving.

Have a look at our Wytham Woods page, and see amazing images of more of the species found there.

  • Pat Wightman (June 3rd, 2011 at 1:34 pm):

    Looks great – I was very interested in looking further at the Wytham Woods page, but the link appears to be broken. It would be good if you could sort that.

  • ARKive (June 3rd, 2011 at 2:56 pm):

    Thanks for your message Pat, the links should be working now but let us know if you have any further problems. Have fun exploring our new Whytham Woods pages!