Ecology Oxford

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.
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.

Since 2008 Hannah Bilston, Principal Ecologist, has been monitoring bat populations in Finemere Wood, an ancient woodland in Buckinghamshire. The project was initiated by the North Bucks Bat Group (NBBG) in 2003 and formed the study site for Hannah’s MSc research into factors affecting bat box selection within Finemere Wood between 2009 and 2011. More recently, Hannah has been investigating ways to maximise occupation rates of bat boxes by maternity roosts of woodland bats.

A recent high court judgment (Prideaux v. Buckinghamshire County Council and FCC Environmental UK Limited EWHC 1054, April 2013) provides useful clarification on a number of issues relating to wildlife law and policy, and in particular the interpretation of the law concerning European Protected Species and the consideration of satisfactory alternatives as one of the three derogation tests set out in Regulation 53(9) of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.
Laura Grant from BSG Ecology’s Oxford office noted a number of toad casualties on roads when she moved to the New Hinksey area of Oxford. Last year she trawled the streets in spring on mild damp evenings to move toads, frogs and smooth newts to the breeding lake out of harm’s way.
BS42020 was published in August 2013 and the first requests for ecology work on projects to be compliant with this new British Standard (BS) are starting to come through. BSG Ecology has long operated rigorous in-house standards for all of our work including developing and operating our own technical survey standards manual. As such the publication of a BS covering our work in relation to planning and development is very welcome. As always with anything new there is a need to review and understand the new guidance so that we can be sure we are implementing it effectively and efficiently.
Last night Laura Grant from  BSG Ecology’s Oxford office gave a talk entitled “An  Introduction to Bat Migration” to members of the Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory.
Since 2008 Hannah Bilston, Principal Ecologist, has been monitoring bat populations in Finemere Wood, an ancient woodland in Buckinghamshire. The project was initiated by the North Bucks Bat Group (NBBG) in 2003 and formed the study site for Hannah’s MSc research into factors affecting bat box selection within Finemere Wood between 2009 and 2011.
Laura Garnt, a Senior Ecologist at our Oxford office, will be leading a workshop on Bat Migration at the Bat Conservation Trust’s annual National Bat Conference at the University of Warwick this weekend (13-15 September 2013). The workshop will be structured around BSG Ecology’s on-going research that aims to establish whether there is regular migratory movement of bats between the UK and mainland Europe.
Principal Ecologist Matt Hobbs will present a talk to the Spurn Migration Festival in East Yorkshire on the subject of bat migration and BSG Ecology’s on-going research project to look at bat migration patterns at coastal sites around England. The event is the first of its kind in the UK and Matt’s talk will be incorporated into a busy programme of events during 6-8 September, that will include guided migration watches, sea-watching, bird-ringing demonstrations, moth-trapping and illustrated talks.
The development of a biodiversity offsetting scheme has been in the pipeline for some time, and a pilot scheme devised by Defra has recently come to an end. In essence, the Defra ‘metrics’ approach enables biodiversity credits to be calculated for habitats that will be unavoidably lost, and an equivalent value of credits provided through habitat restoration or creation to compensate for this loss.
At BSG Ecology we routinely field requests for invertebrate surveys. These can take many forms, but typically include: surveys of sites with potential to support invertebrate species or invertebrates associated with habitats of principal importance (NERC Act 2006); assessment of biological water quality of ponds, lakes, streams and rivers, using freshwater invertebrates as indicators of ecosystem health; or more bespoke surveys of protected or otherwise notable invertebrate species (e.g. white-clawed crayfish, or rare dragonfly or butterfly species).