OTHER SURVEYS

In addition to the surveys described on other pages which form the main part of my contract work, I have carried out a wide range of other projects. These range from a review of the policy and practice of garden centres toward invasive non-native species (INNS) for the magazine "Gardening Which?", preparation of risk assessments other INNS, assessment of the effects of herbicide application on a floodplain grassland to an assessment of the potential for restoration of Butrint Freshwater marsh in southern Albania, as well as a range of surveys of other taxa including birds and fungi and various editing projects, including the new edition of the Wildflower Key for - Penguin Books (Warne publishing).
Relevant positions held:
  • Member of the IUCN SSC Heron Specialist Group 1984-2000
Assessment of the conservation value of sites for fungi
Without complex molecular methods, almost all fungi which occur in the UK can only be recorded when they produce fruiting bodies. Whilst in some species, such as some of the larger Ganoderma species, these are large and permanently visible, most species only produce fruiting bodies in response to particular conditions, the fruiting bodies are short-lived, often seasonal and may not be produced every year. A number of surveys have shown that there is a relatively small number of common fungi which fruit every year but in contrast new species are continuously added to site lists after decades of recording, consequently comprehensive documentation of the fungus flora of a site can require decades of recording. So, no matter how desirable, it is not practical to attempt to document the fungus flora of a site for the purposes of environmental impact assessment.
 
There is also something of a peculiar attitude to fungi in the British Isles compared to other taxa, thus species which are uniquely dependent upon a non-native vascular plant species (such as non-native conifers) and which cannot themselves be native may be considered to be of conservation concern. This, combined with the limited data available on the macro fungi in Britain and Ireland, makes assessment of the conservation value of a site for fungi, at best, very coarse and consequently any attempt to predict impacts on fungi of conservation concern at a site islikely to be somewhat speculative.
 
Therefore,a pragmatic approach is needed to assess the conservation value of a site for fungi. It is obviously important to strive for the ideal, which involves regular surveys throughout the year for a number of years to establish a good enough list of species to indicate the richness of a site for fungi. However, the minimum must involve a thorough survey of the fungus habitats represented (so including availability of different sizes, ages and species of dead wood, acid substrates, vascular plant species as potential hosts etc.). This, in comparison with national data such as the UK Red List of Fungi and local Red Lists, where available, can then allow for an assessment of the potential of a site to support a fungus flora of conservation value.
Bird Surveys
During the first ten years of my career, my work was entirely based around survey and conservation of birds, culminating in specialist projects such as compiling information on the conservation status of herons throughout Asia and coordinating ICBP (now BirdLife International) fieldwork on Gurbey's Pitt in Thailand in 1988. Although I have expanded my interests to include EIA and to concentrate on plant conservation, I still carry projects on birds and of course am able to document elements of the avifauna of all sites that I survey. The following are a few projects carried out under the auspices of Ardeola which have involved or included work on birds:
 
  • Breeding bird survey linked to a Low Flowing Monitoring Study of the River Misbourne
  • Breeding bird survey of land adjoining Wimbleball Reservoir
  • Bird survey of the River Kennet
  • Bird survey of the River Wolf
  • Population assessment of sand martins on the Rivers Haddeo and Exe
Otter Surveys
Although I have, at times, contributed to studies of a range of mammals, from small rodents to cetaceans, the only mammal species for which I carry out formal surveys is the otter. This is mainly because having been taught to survey them in the early 1980s, my river work has enabled me to maintain a good understanding of their behaviour and signs.
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