Conservation studies and activities

HCI has a modest track record of supporting and progressing nature conservation via direct funding of university CASE studentships. It has also part-supported several with ‘contribution’ contracts and through government body commissions. A few examples are given below.

05a_cr.gif Non-native crested newts from mainland Europe and hybrid newts  look quite similar to the native UK species. In the UK a ‘ little ice age’ ended at the start of the 19th century, causing the retreat of several species in northern Europe. Many species have been released outside their natural range in Europe and around the world over the last few thousand years and in particular the last 300 years. Some were native prior to natural climate fluctuations.

GCN Hybridization field study 

In 1998 HCI carried out investigations at Beambrook nurseries in Surrey, where exotic reptiles and amphibians had escaped from commercial enclosures over several decades. The sale of great crested newt (GCN) showing hybrid characteristics with at least two of the continental crested newt species had been stopped as a result of action taken by the charity Froglife. With police action  to halt the trade, an evaluation of the extent of hybridization in the surrounding countryside was conducted. This was part-funded via a HCI CASE study lead  by Prof. Roger Thorpe at the School of Biological Sciences,  University of Wales, Bangor, an expert in studies using body form and colouration (morphometrics). The study fortunately concluded  little sign of spread of non-native genes into surrounding populations and that local GCN appeared to be dominant and possibly resistant to replacement by hybrids.  A morphometric study of a hybrid newt population (Triturus cristatus/T. carnifex): Beam Brook Nurseries, Surrey by E. Brede (1998) is available here ;

Crested newt  hybrid study

Speciation and differentiation in Lesser Antillean lizards.

This was a jontventure withFauna and Flora international,  looking at impacts of introduced lizards on native species at the molecular level. Robert Ogden at University of Wales, Bangor undertook research from 1999-2003 for Roger Thorpe at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor. Several  spin-off projects were possible including evaluation of the current status of herpetofauna conservation on Martinique. 

Scottish herpetofauna: Home ranges reference report

With increasing road, industrial and housing pressures in Scotland , in 1995 HCI compiled a short report for Scottish Natural Heritage to act as a reference to generalist key conservation workers. This included  help in assessment of impacts upon these species when change in land use threatens populations. Home range size and other population characteristics of five species of native Scottish amphibian and three species of native (non-marine) reptile, together with one introduced (UK native) reptile species were investigated together with habitat use in these species.  The report can be viewed online: 
Home range report