Great Crested Newts
Although large areas of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland do not appear to have great crested newt (GCN) populations, they are present over much of mainland Scotland and Northern England. As a result any site with a pond or within 500m of a known location for GCN may require a survey for this species. Although an assessment of the likelihood of a site having GCN can be carried out at any time of year, definitive site surveys to determine presence/absence in a pond or population size can only be undertaken in spring and early summer.
In recent years Environmental DNA (eDNA) testing has been increasingly used as a cost-effective method to determine the likelihood of GCN being present in waterbodies. eDNA is secreted by newts into waterbodies via faeces, mucus, eggs and sperm etc. where it can persist for up to 21 days. Water sampling kits are provided by various companies and a field sampling protocol has been developed and published by Natural England. In detailed field studies by DEFRA, the eDNA technique detected Great Crested Newts 99.3% of the time in ponds where they were known to occur. When used by volunteer surveyors, eDNA detected Great Crested Newts at 91% of ponds where they were known to be present.
Reuben holds an SNH great crested newt science, research and education licence which allows him to survey GCN across England and Scotland. Reuben has collected water samples for eDNA analysis in both England and Scotland and is experienced in the eDNA sampling protocol. He has undertaken GCN surveys for housing developments, wind farms and commercial developments.