Making the best use of eDNA survey for great crested newts – opportunities and limitations (January 2016)

Environmental DNA (eDNA) testing is a relatively new survey technique that can help determine the presence or absence of great crested newts in ponds. Since this is still a relatively new approach its practical application and limitations for field surveys some uncertainty remains in the ecology sector about how it should be best applied and what its practical limitations might be. This article discusses the potential applications of the process, and our perceptions of its limitations, which should be considered when planning survey work for great crested newt.

Olympic Park – Establishing an Ecological Legacy

Dr Peter Shepherd will be giving a short presentation to the CIRIA organised event titled “Biodiversity site tour – Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park” on the 11th of September. The aim of the event is to consider the success of current maintenance and monitoring of on-site biodiversity initiatives in order to ensure long term biodiversity benefits. This is part of the on-going training and CPD events programme organised by CIRIA .

Advanced Professional Training – Habitats Directive Annex II Bat Species

Dr Peter Shepherd of BSG Ecology, along with Dr Sandie Sowler and Dr Ian Davidson-Watts, recently delivered an advanced two day training course on the ecology of the four Habitats Directive Annex II bat species resident and breeding in the UK (barbastelle, Bechstein’s, lesser horseshoe and greater horseshoe). The course was conceived by Peter in 2013 in response to queries from more experienced bat consultants about advanced-level training to help them develop their knowledge and experience base beyond that covered by existing training courses and day to day work experience.

Biodiversity Offsetting in England – Where Next?

Defra confirmed in July 2014 correspondence with BSG Ecology that, ‘there are no plans at this stage to announce a way forward on biodiversity offsetting’. We enquired about the status of offsetting further to the Green Paper that was out for consultation in 2013, and the subsequent completion of the six biodiversity offsetting pilot projects in April 2014. Defra also confirmed in their letter that ‘They [the offsetting pilot projects] will require several months of analysis before they can fully inform our thinking. The final report of the results of the pilot offset projects is not currently available; however we are committed to publishing it.’

New Faces of 2014

This year we have recruited senior and/or principal consultants into our Oxford, Monmouth, Hathersage (Derbyshire) and Newcastle upon Tyne offices and made a number of promotions.  For the past few years we have had a stable team of around 35 staff across the practice and our new recruits take us up to 42 staff, of which 37 are technical, and five are business support.  These important additions to the team expand our capability in a number of technical areas, as well as increasing the availability of senior-level support to our clients.

External Entomology Training provided by BSG Ecology

BSG Ecology has been growing its in-house and associate invertebrate advisory team over the last two years. Our team is led by Dr Jim Fairclough and we have four specialist invertebrate ecologists, and several other staff with more general invertebrate experience.

As well as providing advice to clients on planning-related issues, Jim is also a passionate trainer of ecologists and the wider public. In May 2014, Jim was at Withymead Nature Reserve, providing an insight into aquatic life, through a series of classroom and outdoor sessions.

Chittering Leisler’s bats

BSG partner Dr Peter Shepherd has been closely involved with a bat box monitoring scheme in Sherwood Forest over the last 16 years.  Since monitoring began, the species recorded have regularly included  noctule,  Leisler’s, common and  soprano  pipistrelles ,  with occasional  brown  long-eared bat  and whiskered/Brandt’s bats being recorded.

Internal Training: Bat Identification and Survey Design

Bat identification is technically challenging, and to become proficient requires considerable experience and training.  Designing and undertaking robust bat surveys goes beyond identification, however, and requires an understanding of bat biology and ecology. For example, understanding the thermoregulatory needs of male, female or juvenile bats at different times of the year will enable a good surveyor to think about the sort of roosting conditions that bats will be seeking out at a given time. As such, a knowledgeable surveyor will adapt their survey to ensure all possible roost sites are considered.

BSG Ecology Bat Research in 2014

BSG Ecology has started work on a range of new research projects in 2014.  This article summarises progress to date on new bat research.

British Ornithologists’ Union Spring Conference 2014 – Ecology and Conservation of Birds in Upland and Alpine Habitats

John Baker, Senior Ecologist in BSG Ecology’s Oxford office attended the British Ornithologists’ Union (BOU) annual conference at the University of Leicester held between the 1st and 3rd April 2014.  This year’s theme was the ecology and conservation of birds in upland and alpine habitats. Speakers came from across Europe and North America and included researchers from universities, consultants and representatives of NGOs.

Dartford Warbler Research

BSG Ecology is currently providing technical support to MSc students under the tuition of Dr Penny Neyland and Dr Laura Roberts of Swansea University for their ornithological dissertations.

Owain Gabb, of BSG Ecology’s Swansea office, initially approached the University with ideas about studying aspects of Dartford warbler ecology and distribution on the Gower Peninsula in 2013.  Following some discussion with academic staff, the topic was put to students on the 2014 MSc Environmental Biology: Conservation and Resource Management course as a potential research area.