“The presentations ranged from pool frog reintroduction in West Sussex to iguana conservation in the Turks and Caicos Islands,” says Patrick. “Perhaps the most relevant presentation for me centred on the relationship between bottle trap design and great crested newt capture rates. It was found that nearly 30% of captured great crested newts escaped from bottle traps over a three-hour period, showing that false absences (or underestimates of population size) may be potentially recorded in our surveys.
“Another talk focused on the characteristics of artificial refugia on slow-worm detectability. Smaller refuges (0.25 m2 in size) were found to detect significantly higher numbers of slow-worms covering the same total area (compared with refuges of 0.5 m2). Doubling the tin density from 20 to 40 tins also increased the number of recorded individuals.
“Since returning, I have disseminated what I learned to the rest of the RSK ecology team. This information will help the team plan and design their reptile and amphibian surveys for the upcoming season, taking into consideration industry standard methods and the latest scientific findings.
“It was a very informative day,” concludes Patrick. “I am looking forward to attending the annual ARC Workers Meeting in February, which will help me to further my understanding of these animals and to inform my work in the future.”