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Water vole surveyor training

Course summary

The purpose of the course is to provide the knowledge, skills and experience required to survey for water voles in a professional capacity.

Course outcomes

First Ecology will ensure that trainees are able to competently survey for water voles via attainment of criteria recognised by CIEEM.

Course content

Theory session 

a. conservation status;

b. distribution;

c. threats to water vole populations, species range and species survival;

d. water vole ecology, breeding biology and behaviour;

e. mink ecology, breeding biology, behaviour and distribution;

f. basic freshwater ecology;

g. known ecological requirements (including landscape requirements of water vole meta-populations);

h. legal protection;

i. licensing and permissions;

j. appropriate survey season and conditions;

k. current relevant guidance on survey methods and standards;

l. main survey methods used to survey for water voles (including visual surveys (from bank, wading or using a boat) for latrines, feeding stations, burrows and footprints and including trapping and marking/tagging) and the strengths, weaknesses and limitations of these methods;

m. safety and welfare issues involved in live trapping and handling and marking of wild animals (including Home Office Licensing if required);

n. range of factors that might lead to bias in the survey results, and false negatives (e.g. lack of field signs after rain);

o. identification issues with water voles and other small rodents (e.g. field voles, bank voles and brown rats); p. sources of information on known occurrence and distribution of water voles (including NBN Gateway, national surveys, local biological/environmental records and local contacts/species groups);

q. metadata standards / data sharing; and

r. health and safety issues commonly associated with surveying for water voles (including Weil’s disease and risks of handling biological material by water).