The discovery of a smooth newt raised concerns that great crested newts could also be using a nearby water body; the similarities in habitat suitability between the two species meant that, the works in the area were halted to avoid an offence being committed.
Great crested newts are fully protected under both European and national nature conservation legislation. Great crested newts are defined as a European Protected Species through inclusion in the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended). Further protection is afforded to the species by Section 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). In brief, these legislative instruments make it an offence to intentionally or recklessly kill, injure or capture any great crested newt. Places of shelter used by the species are protected from disturbance while in use, as well as from damage, destruction or obstruction.
eDNA sampling and analysis detects the biological traces, such as skin cells and saliva, that breeding newts leave in the water, remaining there for several weeks. A lack of Great Crested Newt DNA in the water can establish “likely absence” of this protected species in one survey visit, thus greatly reducing survey effort that may be needed to determine this otherwise. More conventional methods which combine bottle trapping and torchlight searches take 4 separate overnight surveys to establish likely absence, and can therefore be much more labour intensive. Additionally, this relatively new method is now supported by Natural England, the licensing authority.
Enims recommended that an eDNA survey to determine the presence or absence of great crested newts should be undertaken. Enims used their own qualified ecologist to collect water samples from the site and co-ordinated with a reputable laboratory to ensure the most accurate results were achieved for their client.
The results Enims obtained on behalf of their client gave a negative result, indicating that there were no great crested newts using the waterbody and Enims could therefore recommend that no further surveys to establish population size or specific mitigation measures were required. The client’s highways work was able to continue efficiently, in full compliance with the law and with as little impact to their own project deadline as possible. Enims also provided ecological supervision for the on-going work as specialists in ecological highways supervision.
enims can provide advice on how eDNA sampling could be used to support your project’s timetable.