CLM Spring issue 2018 - Magazine - Page 44
Living with mammals: an urban study
demanding a long-term commitment from volunteers. A lot is
asked of survey participants and
much can be gained.
Up to 43 mammal species
have been recorded in a
questionnaire-based survey of
gardens (Ansell et al. 2001)
but, more typically, around
two dozen (Baker & Harris
2007; Toms & Newson 2006)
are recorded, including seven
of the 11 non-bat species
formerly designated priority
terrestrial-mammal species in Figure 1 Composition of site types in the survey. The site type of 2,895
the UK Biodiversity Action Plan sites was identified, gardens comprising 70.0%.
(Hedgehog, Brown Hare Lepus
timidus, Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris, Water Vole by Paul Bright, at Royal Holloway, University
Arvicola amphibius, Otter Lutra lutra, Pine Marten of London, and its ongoing management is underMartes martes and Hazel Dormouse Muscardinus taken by PTES.
Weekly records of sightings and field-signs
avellanarius). Only six species or species groups,
however (bats, Red Fox Vulpes vulpes, Grey of mammals are collected by volunteers during
Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis, Hedgehog, mice and a 13-week period each year between the end of
voles), are recorded in a fifth or more of gardens March and the start of July, recording the largest
group of animals seen at one time. Sites are
(Baker & Harris 2007).
Two surveys, the BTO’s Garden BirdWatch, chosen by participants and identified as one of
described by Toms & Newson (2006), and the 13 types, described either by use (e.g. ‘allotment’
People’s Trust for Endangered Species’ (PTES) Living or ‘churchyard’) or by predominant habitat type
with Mammals, described here, have produced long- (e.g. ‘riverbank’ or ‘woodland’). Information about
term datasets of mammal records in gardens and, in the site, as well as species records, are recorded
in a ‘tick-box’ format and captured by optically
the latter case, other urban green spaces.
For some mammals, urban green space is an scanning survey forms.
Sites can be any green space within 200m of
important resource. Species that have shown
declines in the wider countryside (notably in buildings or wholly within a town or city (for
farmland), such as the Song Thrush Turdus philo- example, within a large civic park). Nature reserves
melos and the Hedgehog, are found in significant or urban farms are excluded. The pattern of distrinumbers in urban areas (Hubert et al. 2011; Mason bution of sites closely mirrors that of built land,
2000). A better understanding of these relation- indicating that the survey’s coverage is predomiships and of how species are faring in the built nantly ‘urban’ in the sense used by the ONS.
In total, 7,500 surveys of wild mammals were
environment will be important in the provision
and development of green infrastructure in towns collected over the 12-year period, providing data
and cities, to improve the lot not only of our wild from more than 3,000 sites. Domestic gardens
make up the majority of sites in the survey (Fig. 1)
neighbours but of ourselves as well.
and are the largest single category of urban land
use, typically making up about a quarter of the
Living with Mammals
area of cities (Loram et al. 2007; Smith 2010).
The Living with Mammals survey started in 2003, The extent of the resource represented by gardens
with the aim of producing effort-based indices of has been characterised in Sheffield University’s
mammal abundance across the built environment, Biodiversity in Urban Gardens in Sheffield (BUGS)
and has run annually ever since. It was developed and BUGS II projects. Gardens in the eponymous
190 British Wildlife February 2016
BWM27_3 09 mammal survey.indd 190