Supporting Professional Development: Invertebrate Survey Training 2022

Supporting Professional Development: Invertebrate Survey Training 2022

During Spring 2022 Dr Jim Fairclough, invertebrate ecologist and principal consultant at BSG, has provided detailed training on invertebrate habitat evaluation and basic aquatic and terrestrial invertebrate survey techniques to staff based in our Wales, Derbyshire and Oxford offices. The objective of the training has been to help staff assess habitats of likely value to invertebrates more confidently, and to upskill staff in survey techniques, so that they can be more involved in assisting and supporting survey programmes.

The training has been completed at a range of sites across South Wales and in the Bristol area. A key component of it has been assessment of whether sites meet ‘open mosaic habitat (OMH) on previously developed land’ criteria. OMH can be of considerable value for invertebrates, but a degree of experience and judgement is often required in determining it, especially when atypical or borderline sites are encountered. OMH is common across South Wales, particularly around docks and on former industrial land; many of these sites are being considered for redevelopment.

A range of active and passive survey techniques were demonstrated and put into practice, including sweep netting (aquatic and terrestrial), beating (of overhanging branches of trees and shrubs), grubbing (hand searches), pan / water trapping and pitfall trapping. Such techniques are routinely used in the sampling of invertebrates in the field, and once samples have been identified in the laboratory, allow the assessor to characterise the invertebrate assemblage present. Characterisation is based on the  number of species found and their associations with particular habitat types. Those with more specialist requirements and rare (nationally scarce) species point towards assemblages that are of higher value in nature conservation terms, therefore allowing an evaluation of the importance of a site (or parts of a site) for invertebrates.

Those attending the training are now more knowledgeable in recognising OMH and other habitats on sites that may support important invertebrate assemblages, and therefore identifying the requirement for further targeted invertebrate survey. They will also be better equipped in undertaking and assisting in invertebrate survey, alongside a specialist entomologist, through the greater understanding of methods that they are now equipped with.

Feedback from some of the attendees:

“I’m pleased to have spent a week being trained by Jim to assess invertebrate habitat suitability using a range of sampling methods and botanical identification. I now feel more confident in identifying open mosaic habitat on brownfield land and have become more familiar with the main invertebrate genera.” Becky Gibbs, Ecologist

“It was a brilliant couple of days learning more about Open Mosaic Habitats, what features make a site good for invertebrates, and how to assess a site using the Invertebrate Habitat Potential methodology. I now feel confident to assist with invertebrate sampling surveys, and it was great to see the range of invertebrates that can be collected in such a short time using these methods.” Gemma Watkinson, Senior Ecologist

If you would like further information on our invertebrate capability please contact one of our offices.


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