The Parc Slip wildlife survey has now come to an end, and analysis of the results has been taking place over the last month. When the survey began, the aims were to provide evidence that artificial refugia can be used to survey for small mammals, and to determine which of two sizes, 1m2 or 0.5m2, were most effective for producing the highest numbers of sightings.
There were a total of 2858 sightings beneath all the artificial refugia between August 2010 and July 2011. Small mammal sightings made up the largest proportion of the total numbers of sightings, even above reptiles, for which artificial refugia are an accepted survey method.
This suggests that artificial refugia could be a suitable method for surveying for small mammals. The small mammal cannot be captured using ACS’s, so features such as sex and weight of an individual cannot be determined, but presence of a species at a site can be confirmed and behaviours observed that would not be seen using trapping, for example, nesting behaviour.
Overall, the larger artificial refugia had higher species richness and a greater number of sightings than the smaller artificial refugia. However, preference for the different sheet sizes varied from species to species.
Snakes and small mammals (excluding common and pygmy shrews) were sighted more beneath the larger refugia, whereas lizards (including slow worms), amphibians and pygmy shrews were sighted more beneath the smaller refugia. Great crested newts and common shrews showed no preference for a sheet size.
The reason why the different species showed different preferences is unclear: temperature and humidity beneath the two different sheet sizes were tested during July 2011, but no difference was found between the two sheet sizes, so these microhabitat variables were not affecting size choice. It is possible that other factors such as social interactions or size of the animal affected the choice of refugia size by different species, and this could be tested in further experimentation.
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