Great Crested Newt EDNA Surveys: A Review

Natural England have recently published the GCN eDNA and Habitat Suitability Index results for surveys carried out across England to inform the new District Level Licencing Framework. FPCR were appointed by Natural England back in the start of 2019 to carry out surveys across Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Staffordshire (A113) and the result of these surveys, and from other areas, are now available on the Natural England Open Data Geoportal.

Since our latest update (see our previous News Story ) our team of ecologists from our Lockington office completed our allotted total of 370 eDNA samples and HSI assessments between 15th April – 30th June 2019!  The aim of pond sampling was to survey one pond, chosen at random by Natural England, from each 1km grid square in the A113 region, an area over 76 miles wide. One of the advantages of the eDNA technique is the ease with which larger numbers of ponds can be surveyed in one visit.  The teams coordination and resourcefulness were put to the test when, due to periods of dry weather, many ponds had either completely dried-out or did not hold sufficient amounts of water to be able to take a sample, and new ponds were either sourced onsite or offsite on a separate survey occasion. A fantastic group effort was required to meet the required target in the allotted time-frame.

The nationwide dataset has now been mapped and will be used to inform the District Level Licencing framework by providing an improved evidence base of GCN distribution and habitat suitability across England, allowing opportunities for targeted GCN conservation. By habitat creation in areas where the results of the surveys show it will most effectively connect and expand existing GCN populations, the new licencing approach aims to increase GCN populations at a County level, rather than just at the proposed development site. FPCR look forward to trialling this new scheme and are proud to have been part of the project so far.