A big cheer for our PondNet amphibian volunteers
23rd June 2016
As the amphibian survey winds down for another year, we’d like to give a huge thank you to the PondNet volunteers. You’ve all been incredibly busy on behalf of the People, Ponds and Water project, visiting PondNet squares and Flagship sites all over England and Wales to look for Great Crested Newts.
This year we were lucky to have funding from a range of different organisations, including the Heritage Lottery Fund, Defra, Natural England, Thames Water, ValPak and Welsh Government, which allowed us to purchase 550 eDNA kits.
This has allowed us to:
- Re-survey the 100 1km grid squares (c. 300 ponds) we surveyed in 2015,
- Survey an additional 120 ponds within the Thames Water Region to increase our knowledge of pond biodiversity and engage communities with the pond heritage on their doorstep,
- Support our Welsh PondNetters by providing eDNA kits for surveys of 25 ponds, including in-part a joint project with Amphibian and Reptile Conservation who are developing models for predicting Great Crested Newt occupancy,
- Undertake surveys for Great Crested Newts at 12 of our Flagship Pond Sites where the current status of Great Crested Newts is unknown and where knowledge of which ponds they occupy can help to inform management,
- Complete surveys for Great Crested Newts at PondNet squares which we’d originally allocated for traditional torch survey techniques. Some of these sites were too remote or too difficult to access for a night time survey, but with eDNA we’ll be able to confirm Great Crested Newt presence or absence without having to fight our way there in the dark!
The first batch of eDNA kits has now been delivered to France and the second batch is due to leave the office next week. SpyGen, the French company undertaking the analysis will be sending us the results in September.
By the end of this year we will have completed Great Crested Newt surveys using eDNA or traditional techniques on over 170 PondNet squares – that’s over 500 ponds! More than 300 volunteers signed up for the Great Crested Newt surveys this year – that’s an additional 100 volunteers compared to last year.
Combined with the survey data we collected last year we’ll now be able to take a first look at how Great Crested Newt populations and their habitats change between years. This will take us one step closer to analysing national trends in the population of this endangered amphibian. We’ll be producing an interim report on the results this November so watch this space for more information.
Want to know more?
- Find out what PondNet volunteers do and how they contribute to our understanding of pond quality and species distribution.
- Read about the 2015 eDNA results.
- Join our mailing list to get news and updates on this and other projects direct to your inbox.
- Make a donation in support of People, Ponds & Water and the many other freshwater wildlife projects we run.