School of Anthropology & Conservation

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Development of standardised protocols for assessing reptile and amphibian populations


Principal Investigator: Professor Richard Griffiths
Project dates: 1 January 2011 - ongoing
Funding: NERC: £85,866; Freshwater Habitats Trust
Collaborators: Natural England; Countryside Council for Wales; Scottish Natural Heritage; ARC Trust; Freshwater Habitats Trust


Counting animals - and the number of habitats occupied by animals - is fundamental to conservation decision-making. Despite recent advances in survey design and analysis, population assessments of amphibians and reptiles almost entirely rely on simple counts that usually bear little relationship to actual population sizes, densities or the number of habitats occupied. This is because simple counts fail to take into account variations in the detectability of animals between habitats, time periods or observers. Consequently, the quality of data collected on amphibian and reptile populations is extremely variable. We have been developing and testing survey methods for assessing designs and analytical tools that take account of variations in detectability. This has resulted in revised guidelines for population assessments that have been disseminated to end-users via a NERC-funded knowledge exchange project.  Ongoing research is now investigating the potential to use environmental DNA to detect the presence of species and incorporate this method within standard survey protocols.


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Last Updated: 30/09/2014