Water vole survey of Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve - October 2011
SNH commissioned Waterside Ecology to undertake a survey within Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve (NNR) to identify and map the distribution of water vole colonies and identify those potentially at greatest risk of extinction. A total of 19 separate locations were found to have current, recent or old signs of water vole activity, 8 of which were considered to have currently active water vole colonies. The dataset includes absence records. The distribution of water vole colonies and suitable habitat within the Beinn Eighe NNR had previously been largely unknown.
The survey covered the SNH Beinn Eighe NNR property. Apart from a small side tributary of the Allt Coire an Laoigh that enters the Torridon River, all watercourses surveyed were within the River Ewe catchment.
The aims of the water vole survey were to: Establish presence/absence of water voles along watercourses in the SNH Beinn Eighe NNR property; Assess the habitat quality for water voles along the same watercourses; Identify those water vole colonies considered to be at greatest risk of extinction. The findings were incorporated into a long-term management strategy for water vole conservation within the NNR.
There is a high degree of confidence - all signs were noted by experienced surveyors.
All sections of watercourse with level ground or a gentle slope (<3% gradient) within the NNR were included in the survey. The banks of each watercourse were surveyed and signs of water vole activity were noted. Where access and water depth allowed, the search was conducted from the channel itself. Water vole signs separated by less than 200 m within one watercourse were considered to be within one colony, as adult males are known to have a home range of up to 200 m (Capreolus 2005; Sah 1998).
Water vole habitat was assessed longitudinally as a series of contiguous survey sections. For the purposes of recording, habitat section breaks were inserted where the habitat type changed significantly. If habitat remained uniform section breaks were created approximately every 200 m. Each survey section was ranked in one of three categories: optimal (O), sub-optimal (SO) or unsuitable (US) water vole habitat.
NatureScot ([Insert download year]). Water vole survey of Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve - October 2011. Occurrence dataset on the NBN Atlas
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