DEVON MAMMAL GROUP – SMALL GRANT SCHEME

Have you ever wanted to carry out research into mammals but have been prohibited due to costs?  The Devon Mammal Group Small Grant Scheme was set up to enable members to carry out research into mammals in Devon.  Grants of up to £500 can be awarded to help cover research costs i.e. cameras, traps and other equipment.

To obtain a Grant, the application form should be completed and sent to the DMG Committee for approval.  We are keen to encourage applications from our members and will look especially favourably on unusual applications. You do not have to be a student to obtain a grant.  In return for funding, recipients will be asked to provide an article for our Newsletter and Website and/or to provide a short talk at one of our events.  Our members love to hear about new research!

If you would like to apply for a grant, please complete the application form here and return it to jsmallcombe@yahoo.co.uk.

 

An overview of recently approved Grants:

 

Otter © Tom Williams 2012
Otter © Tom Williams 2012

Diet of the European Otter Lutra lutra on the River Dart catchment.

There is a lack of current data on the foraging behaviour of Otters within lowland freshwater habitats.  Knowledge of diet is one of the most important aspects of any species ecology, and in particular with apex predators such as the otter.  Therefore fieldwork to collect and analyse the content of Otter spraints on the River Dart catchment area started in October 2013 and finished in September 2014.  The collected spraints are now being analysed.

The Small Grant Scheme provided £500 for this research and the fund was used to purchase a stereomicroscope and two camera traps, which were essential items of equipment for conducting this study.  We look forward to hearing about the results!

Recipient: Luke Sutton, Undergraduate at Plymouth University

 

Do field voles utilise Gorse flowers in their diet?

One of our members became interested in field vole behaviour after finding runs and chamber-like structures in grasses under gorse bushes.  There is a possibility that the gorse is used for huddling to conserve heat and for protection from predation.  After coming across some photographic evidence that field voles may actually eat gorse flowers, he decided to conduct some research.  The importance of field voles utilising gorse flowers in their diet is that gorse is a legume and contains high levels of nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus, which may be deficient in moorland grasses.

The Small Grant Scheme enabled the use of a trail camera to video field voles and help establish whether gorse is indeed part of the field vole diet.  This research is still underway in the South Dartmoor area.

Recipient:  Christopher Hughes

 

Overview of some completed Grant research:

 

Dormice in Devon gardens

Rare and secretive dormice are sometimes seen visiting garden bird feeders. Based on sightings reported to Devon Biodiversity Records Centre between 1999-2009, further investigations were made analysing ‘dormouse gardens’ and their surrounding landscape features. Dr. Pat Morris says this is the first garden survey of dormice that he has heard of.

Gardens visited by dormice were generally in rural or rural edge areas, and although sometimes some distance from large woodlands or other suitable habitat, were often linked by hedgerow networks. Hedge quality was also found to be an important factor within individual gardens. The findings relate to other studies of dormouse populations in fragmented woodland habitats.

You can read the full report here:
 Dormice in Gardens

Recipient: Stephen Carroll

 

Nut Hunts!

HG and Elaine Hurrell in South Devon made the observation that dormice open hazel nuts in a distinctive way.  This method was then used as a basis for two national dormouse surveys (‘Great Nut Hunts’) in 1993 and 2001. 10 years after the most recent national survey, Devon Wildlife Trust, in partnership with dormouse workers from Cornwall and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), aimed to carry out a follow up survey across Devon (with a parallel exercise taking place in Cornwall).  The study would look at past Nut Hunt sites, and explore potential new sites, as well as encouraging community involvement in wildlife surveys. This was to take place in affiliation with a repeat of the national survey led by People’s Trust for Endangered Species in 2009-2011 (entitled the ‘Golden Great Nut Hunt’).

Devon Wildlife Trust organised a series of public workshop events through late summer and autumn 2009.  This was advertised county-wide through DWT’s event publicity, with at least one event in each Devon district. Events comprised a mini-talk, practice identifying different mammal gnaw marks on hazel nuts, and a site visit. Attendees were then encouraged to visit their own local sites to look for dormouse hazel nut feeding signs and report back on findings.

Devon Mammal Group provided grant support towards room hire and event costs. Eleven workshops were held between August – October 2009, with events in Ipplepen, Bideford, Loddiswell, Welcombe Barton, Exeter, Stockland, Colyton, North Tawton and south Dartmoor. A number of DWT family Nature Club Watch groups also took part.

Results of the national Golden Great Nut Hunt 2009-2011 can be viewed via the PTES website: 
http://www.ptes.org/files/1642_gnh_update.pdf

Recipient: Devon Wildlife Trust

 

Bat Study at Paignton Zoo.

Tracey and Katie waiting for dusk!
Tracey and Katie waiting for dusk!

A study of bats at Clennon Gorge Nature Reserve at Paignton Zoo resulted in the recording of nine species including Barbastelle – a new record for the site.  The survey findings underlined the importance of WWCT’s wetland areas for foraging bats and raised new questions for future research.  There are plans to introduce ongoing monitoring, and this information will help to manage the site and promote conservation of native bats.

You can read the full report here:
Bats at Paignton Zoo

Recipients: Tracey Hamston, Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust & Katherine Luxmoore, student University of Plymouth