The National Small Mammal Monitoring Scheme

As chair of the Surveys Committee of The Mammal Society (TMS), Simon Poulton was instrumental in creating the "National Small Mammal Monitoring Scheme". Subsequently rebadged as "Mini Mammal Monitoring", this scheme is a volunteer-based project open to individuals, conservation organisations, educational and research establishments, etc. It uses a number of different field methods, requiring a range of expertise and experience to obtain an index of abundance for ten of the UK's small mammal species. (Click here if you would like to know more about this scheme.)

The development of this project began in 2005 and took place in three stages:

a) In 2005, TMS won a contract from JNCC to carry out a scoping study on the feasibility of establishing a national scheme for monitoring small mammals. The project included a review of the past and current surveys for 13 species of mice, voles and shrews. It also included a comprehensive evaluation of field methods. The contribution made by BioEcoSS Ltd. to this project was to design a sampling strategy and field protocol, including five different field methods. Part of this exercise was to carry out a power analysis using computer-intensive simulations to determine the sample sizes needed to detect given rates of change over different time periods. The findings were published as TMS Research Report No. 6 (Sibbald et al, 2006).
b) As the conclusions of the scoping study were highly positive, a second contract was awarded by JNCC to TMS to undertake a two-year pilot study. This took place over 2006 and 2007 in 26 sites throughout England, Wales and the Republic of Ireland. BioEcoSS Ltd. designed the protocol, created a fully-relational MS Access database to enter and validate the data and undertook the final analysis. This included a detailed cost/benefit analysis and another, more sophisticated, power analysis based on over 125,000 logistic regressions. The findings were published as TMS Research Report No. 8 (Poulton & Stone; 2008).
b) In 2009, The Mammal Society launched the National Small Mammal Monitoring Scheme and contracted Simon Poulton to promote the scheme, co-ordinate sites and volunteers and analyse the first season's data. A total of 113 100m transects in 38 sites were completed and a large part of the analysis was focused on the efficacy of the sampling strategy. The final report was published as TMS Research Report No. 10 (Poulton; 2010).