Headington, United Kingdom
Headington, United Kingdom

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Pocock M.J.O.,UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology | Newson S.E.,British Trust for Ornithology | Henderson I.G.,British Trust for Ornithology | Peyton J.,UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology | And 31 more authors.
Journal of Applied Ecology | Year: 2015

Biodiversity is changing at unprecedented rates, and it is increasingly important that these changes are quantified through monitoring programmes. Previous recommendations for developing or enhancing these programmes focus either on the end goals, that is the intended use of the data, or on how these goals are achieved, for example through volunteer involvement in citizen science, but not both. These recommendations are rarely prioritized. We used a collaborative approach, involving 52 experts in biodiversity monitoring in the UK, to develop a list of attributes of relevance to any biodiversity monitoring programme and to order these attributes by their priority. We also ranked the attributes according to their importance in monitoring biodiversity in the UK. Experts involved included data users, funders, programme organizers and participants in data collection. They covered expertise in a wide range of taxa. We developed a final list of 25 attributes of biodiversity monitoring schemes, ordered from the most elemental (those essential for monitoring schemes; e.g. articulate the objectives and gain sufficient participants) to the most aspirational (e.g. electronic data capture in the field, reporting change annually). This ordered list is a practical framework which can be used to support the development of monitoring programmes. People's ranking of attributes revealed a difference between those who considered attributes with benefits to end users to be most important (e.g. people from governmental organizations) and those who considered attributes with greatest benefit to participants to be most important (e.g. people involved with volunteer biological recording schemes). This reveals a distinction between focussing on aims and the pragmatism in achieving those aims. Synthesis and applications. The ordered list of attributes developed in this study will assist in prioritizing resources to develop biodiversity monitoring programmes (including citizen science). The potential conflict between end users of data and participants in data collection that we discovered should be addressed by involving the diversity of stakeholders at all stages of programme development. This will maximize the chance of successfully achieving the goals of biodiversity monitoring programmes. The ordered list of attributes developed in this study will assist in prioritizing resources to develop biodiversity monitoring programmes (including citizen science). The potential conflict between end users of data and participants in data collection that we discovered should be addressed by involving the diversity of stakeholders at all stages of programme development. This will maximize the chance of successfully achieving the goals of biodiversity monitoring programmes. © 2015 The Authors. Journal of Applied Ecology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ecological Society.


Biggs J.,Freshwater Habitats Trust | Ewald N.,Freshwater Habitats Trust | Valentini A.,Spygen | Gaboriaud C.,Spygen | And 8 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2014

The use of environmental DNA (eDNA) is rapidly emerging as a potentially valuable survey technique for rare or hard to survey freshwater organisms. For the great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) in the UK, the substantial cost and manpower requirements of traditional survey methods have hampered attempts to assess the status of the species. We tested whether eDNA could provide the basis for a national citizen science-based monitoring programme for great crested newts by (i) comparing the effectiveness of eDNA monitoring with torch counts, bottle trapping and egg searches and (ii) assessing the ability of volunteers to collect eDNA samples throughout the newt's UK range. In 35 ponds visited four times through the breeding season, eDNA detected newts on 139 out of 140 visits, a 99.3% detection rate. Bottle traps, torch counts and egg searches were significantly less effective, detecting newts 76%, 75% and 44% of the time. eDNA was less successful at predicting newt abundance being positively, but weakly, correlated with counts of the number of newts. Volunteers successfully collected eDNA samples across the UK with 219 of 239 sites (91.3%) correctly identified as supporting newts. 8.7% of sites generated false negatives, either because of very small newt populations or practical difficulties in sample collection. There were no false positives. Overall, we conclude that eDNA is a highly effective survey method and could be used as the basis for a national great crested newt monitoring programme. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


Biggs J.,Freshwater Habitats Trust | von Fumetti S.,University of Basel | Kelly-Quinn M.,University College Dublin
Hydrobiologia | Year: 2016

Small waterbodies, including ponds and small lakes, low-order streams, ditches and springs, are the most numerous freshwater environments globally, are critical for freshwater biodiversity and are increasingly recognised for their role in ecosystem service delivery. Small waters often represent the best remaining examples of intact freshwater habitats and are the most likely to remain unpolluted, often being a refuge for species which have disappeared from larger, more damaged, waterbodies. Practically all water-related ecosystem services are initially mediated by small waters and some, such as carbon cycling, may be dominated by them. Small waters are exposed to all the threats affecting larger waters, and some experienced only by small waters. Despite this, small waters remain the least investigated part of the water environment and are largely excluded from water management planning. We identify the priorities for research to underpin better protection of small waters and recommend policy actions needed to better integrate small waters into the management of catchments and landscapes. The primary requirements are to identify reliable monitoring programmes for small waters, develop effective measures to protect the biodiversity and ecosystem services they provide and ensure that regulators take full account of this critical part of the water environment. © 2016 Springer International Publishing Switzerland


PubMed | Freshwater Habitats Trust
Type: | Journal: The Science of the total environment | Year: 2017

This study investigated patterns of nutrient pollution in waterbody types across Greater London. Nitrate and phosphate data were collected by both citizen scientists and professional ecologists and their results were compared. The professional survey comprised 495 randomly selected pond, lake, river, stream and ditch sites. Citizen science survey sites were self-selected and comprised 76 ponds, lakes, rivers and streams. At each site, nutrient concentrations were assessed using field chemistry kits to measure nitrate-N and phosphate-P. The professional and the citizen science datasets both showed that standing waterbodies had significantly lower average nutrient concentrations than running waters. In the professional datasets 46% of ponds and lakes had nutrient levels below the threshold at which biological impairment is likely, whereas only 3% of running waters were unimpaired by nutrients. The citizen science dataset showed the same broad pattern, but there was a trend towards selection of higher quality waterbodies with 77% standing waters and 14% of rivers and streams unimpaired. Waterbody nutrient levels in the professional dataset were broadly correlated with landuse intensity. Rivers and streams had a significantly higher proportion of urban and suburban land cover than other waterbody types. Ponds had higher percentage of semi-natural vegetation within their much smaller catchments. Relationships with land cover and water quality were less apparent in the citizen-collected dataset probably because the areas visited by citizens were less representative of the landscape as whole. The results suggest that standing waterbodies, especially ponds, may represent an important clean water resource within urban areas. Small waterbodies, including ponds, small lakes<50ha and ditches, are rarely part of the statutory water quality monitoring programmes and are frequently overlooked. Citizen scientist data have the potential to partly fill this gap if they are co-ordinated to reduce bias in the type and location of the waterbodies selected.

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