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Headington, United Kingdom

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. Source


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. Source

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