Evaluating The Bude Water Vole Reintroduction Project And The Factors Which Determined The Successes And Failures
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Water voles (Arvicola amphibius), once a widespread species in Britain, became the fastest declining British mammal due to habitat fragmentation and North American mink (Neovison vison) introduction. Bude catchment (North Cornwall, England) was the location of the first water vole release project in Cornwall and has been closely monitored since the first releases in 2013. Latrines, being the most accurate field sign, were recorded twice a year, alongside burrows and feeding signs, giving an indication to the presence of voles in and around the release locations. In the Bude release catchment the presence of water voles was strongly correlated with static / still water bodies, suggesting that the water voles had moved from lotic (fast flowing) to lentic (still / static) habitat following reintroduction. Comparing this to further releases across England shows that they do not always thrive in static / still water. This was an interesting finding of the project and suggests that water voles are likely to have a plethora of habitat requirements which cannot be easily determined prior to release. Since the cause is unknown this is an area requiring further study. The main objective of the project was to follow up the reintroduction of water voles and latrine numbers show water voles are still active and, therefore, the release can be considered a success due to their short natural lifespan.
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