Wytham Woods contains over 500 plant species (3). In the ancient and secondary woodlands, ash (Fraxinus excelsior), sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) are dominant trees (6) (11), while beech (Fagus sylvatica) and the magnificent pedunculate oak (Quercus robur) are widespread in the plantations (3) (7).
Throughout the woods, brambles (Rubus fruticosus) are common and stunning bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) may carpet the ground in spring, while bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) flourishes in areas that were formerly common land (4).
The mammal population of Wytham Woods includes fallow deer (Dama dama), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi) (3). Although roe deer occur in fairly low densities, numbers of fallow deer and muntjac have increased substantially since the 1970s, which has had a significant effect on the composition and abundance of trees and shrubs within the woods (6) (12).
Wytham Woods is also home to wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus) (11) and bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus) (13), and is noted for having the densest population of badgers (Meles meles) in the UK (14).
Birds which breed in Wytham Woods include the distinctive common redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) (3), the much-studied great tit (Parus major) (15), and the red-breasted robin (Erithacus rubecula) (12).
It is also home to the tawny owl (Strix aluco) and barn owl (Tyto alba), which feed on the wood mice and bank voles (10) (13). Both of these owls, like many other birds found in Wytham, depend wholly or partly on dead or dying trees within the woodland for their nest sites (13).
Reptiles and amphibians
Smooth newts (Triturus vulgaris) and common frogs (Rana temporaria) may be spotted in the ponds within the woodlands, while grass snakes (Natrix natrix) and slow worms (Anguis fragilis) have been recorded from open areas (4).
The insect fauna of Wytham Woods is extremely diverse (3). This includes over 800 butterfly and moth species, such as the uncommon wood white butterfly (Leptidea sinapis), and around 900 species of beetle, 13 of which are nationally rare (3).
Around one third of all British spider species, about 200 species, occur in the woods (3), such as the agile, predatory wolf spider (Pardosa amentata) (16), as well as 700 species of bees, wasps and ants (3), including the yellow meadow ant (Lasius flavus) whose mounds dot Wytham’s grasslands (4).