Innovative mammal conservation

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Non-invasive methods for monitoring weasels: emerging technologies and priorities for future research (2024) DS Jachowski et al

This report looks at how emerging non-invasive methods for monitoring the elusive weasel may help to more accurately assess populations and distribution across the world in order to develop management actions.


Photo: Weasel ©Robert Cruickshanks


O’Malley KD, et al. (2023). An acoustic-based method for locating maternity colonies of rare woodland bats

Locating colonies of rare bats can be a time consuming process, as it is often difficult to know where to focus survey effort. However, identifying peaks of bat activity via acoustic monitoring may provide insights into whether a colony is locally present, and help screen out sites with low potential. Using a triage approach, we developed a survey methodology for locating colonies of the woodland-specialist barbastelle bat (Barbastella barbastellus). We investigated whether woodland occupancy by a colony could be predicted by acoustic data, and assessed the influence of survey effort (number of acoustic detectors deployed) on detectability.



Ternenge Apaa et al. (2023) Sarbecoviruses of British horseshoe bats; sequence variation and epidemiology

Horseshoe bats are the natural hosts of the subgenus that includes SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2. Despite the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is still little known about the underlying epidemiology and virology of sarbecoviruses in their natural hosts, leaving large gaps in our pandemic preparedness. Dr Samantha Bremner-Harrison, VWT’s Head of Conservation, has contributed to the research and this paper, which describes the results of PCR testing for sarbecoviruses in the two horseshoe bat species ( and ) present in Great Britain, collected in 2021–22 during the peak of COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo: Lesser horseshoe bat ( ©Frank Greenaway


Bavin, D. et al. (2023) Stakeholder perspectives of the prospect of lynx (Lynx lynx) reintroduction in Scotland.

Conservation translocations, particular of large predators, are complex and challenging but are frequently used to tackle biodiversity decline. We used Q-Methodology to explore stakeholder perspectives on the reintroduction of Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx) to Scotland. We provide a foundation for future dialogue between stakeholders over the prospective reintroduction of the lynx to Scotland and recommend a stakeholder-focused participatory process as the next step. Our findings have wider relevance for wildlife reintroductions, species recovery and conservation conflicts elsewhere.

Photo: Eurasian lynx ©David Selbert


Marina Bollo Palacios et al. (2023) Exclusion of barn owls Tyto alba from a greater horseshoe bat Rhinolophus ferrumequinum roost in Devon, UK.

The greater horseshoe bat Rhinolophus ferrumequinum is a rare species in the UK that relies heavily on undisturbed stone buildings in which to breed. Barn owls Tyto alba are also a protected species that roost and raise their broods in similar places. This overlap in roosting requirements can lead to barn owls moving into buildings containing well-established greater horseshoe bat maternity colonies. This in turn could result in disturbance and abandonment of the building by the bats. Such an event occurred at one of the largest greater horseshoe bat roosts in the UK in 2018 when the colony deserted the roost after barn owls moved in. In this paper, we describe measures used to exclude the owls while retaining access for the bats, to encourage the colony to return.

Conservation Evidence, 20, 8 – 12  ISSN 1758-2067 8

Photo: Hibernating greater horseshoe bat ©Daniel Hargreaves


Patrick G. R. Wright et al. (2023) Can social media be used to inform the distribution of the marbled polecat, Vormela peregusna?

The marbled polecat (Vormela peregusna) is a small mustelid that occurs from the Balkans to Mongolia and is listed as vulnerable under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List. There are currently no efficient methods to monitor populations at a broad scale and most records come from opportunistic sightings. However, the elusive nature and unique pelage of the species often results in a lot of interest when sighted, with observations regularly being shared on social media platforms. Such records from social media can provide an extensive source of freely available information that could be used to inform the species’ distribution. In this study, we systematically collected marbled polecat records from five social media platforms by using a manual and automated search targeting the western range of the species.

Photo: Marbled polecat ©Zoofanatic


Croose, E., et al. (2023) Mink on the brink: comparing survey methods for detecting a critically endangered carnivore, the European mink Mustela lutreola

Our latest Open Access paper led by Lizzie Croose is out. We investigated the use of different survey methods (cameras, live-trapping, hair-tubes and eDNA) to detect the critically endangered European mink.

Photo: European mink captured on trail camera


Wright, P.G.R. et al. (2022). Effect of roost management on populations trends of Rhinolophus hipposideros and Rhinolophus ferrumequinum in Britain and Ireland

This paper published in the Conservation Evidence journal details how effective building management at VWT’s bat reserves has resulted in stronger greater and lesser horseshoe bat population size increases compared with unmanaged sites.


The Lynx to Scotland Project: assessing the social feasibility of potential Eurasian lynx reintroduction to Scotland (David Bavin and Jenny MacPherson)

The Lynx to Scotland study sought to assess the social feasibility of potential lynx reintroduction to Scotland through consultation with stakeholders and communities in two focal areas – Cairngorms National Park (CNP) and Argyll. Whilst the ecological feasibility of lynx reintroduction has been approached by previous efforts for Scotland, the Lynx to Scotland study represents the first effort to assess social feasibility. This is of central importance for the proposed reintroduction of a large carnivore that has been absent from Britain for a period of time equivalent to multiple human generations. The backbone of the study constituted an academic investigation using Q-Methodology, a technique used to quantify the subjective views of people towards a given topic. 

Photo: ©Pexels-David Selbert


Croose, E. et al. (2021) Assessing the detectability of the Irish stoat Mustela erminea hibernica using two camera trap‑based survey methods

The Irish stoat M. erminea hibernica is a subspecies endemic to Ireland and the Isle of Man but, despite being widespread in Ireland, no information exists on its population status due to the difficulty of detection. This study compared the efficacy of two camera trap methods (the Mostela, a modified camera trapping device, and an external camera trap outside the Mostela) to detect Irish stoats in counties Mayo and Galway, Republic of Ireland. It also evaluates the potential applicability of both methods for future work to assess the population and conservation status of this little-studied species.

Photo: Irish stoat ©Carrie Crowley (Crossing the Line Films)

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