Dormouse footprint tunnels with Essex and Suffolk Dormouse Group
Over the past 12 months, Greenlight ecologists have volunteered with the Essex and Suffolk Dormouse Group. to set up, check and take down dormouse boxes, nest tubes and footprint tunnels across multiple sites. The most recent work conducted by Alison Looser, is looking at the effectiveness of footprint tunnels in identifying dormice in woodlands with known populations.
Surveying for dormice often requires setting up numerous nest tubes and leaving them in situ for the majority of summer and autumn. This survey method is currently the gold standard but relies on two main factors:
- A population of dormice in the area.
- Dormice creating a nest within a nest tube.
There have been several cases where surveys have been conducted in accordance with the current guidelines and not recorded any signs of dormice, only for a nest to be discovered just before construction works being.
The Essex and Suffolk Dormouse Group have trialed footprint tunnels over the past year to assess their ability at detecting dormouse compared to dormouse boxes and nest tubes. In theory footprint tunnels allow for:
- Earlier detection – they rely solely on dormice walking through a footprint tunnel, instead of building a nest, although there have been cases where dormice have built nests within a footprint tunnel.
- Detection on more marginal habitats – a hedgerow connecting two woodlands may be used by commuting dormice, but may be unsuitable for nesting.
During the inspections last week, a total of 14 dormice and 19 nests where recorded. Over the next few months, Alison will be analysing the data and drawing conclusions as to the effectiveness of footprint tunnels.
Greenlight has experience with conducting dormouse surveys and appropriate mitigation works. Please click here for more information on dormouse surveys or the ecology services we offer. If you require a quote, need further explanation or have any questions, please contact us by clicking here.