Biodiversity monitoring constitutes a vital part of Jersey's obligations to provide a basis for evaluating the integrity of our ecosystems, their responses to disturbances, and the success of actions taken to conserve or recover biodiversity.
Between 2007 and 2018, volunteers surveyed ponds and terrestrial habitat to record native amphibians and reptiles across the island. The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust undertook this analysis report. NARRS formed part of the department's biodiversity monitoring programme, in order to monitor changes in Jersey’s amphibian and reptile species conservation status. The data was analysed to look at their distribution, occupancy and status of these species and to inform future conservation and monitoring efforts.
In summary the results and recommendations were as follows:
- there was little change in western toad, agile frog, wall lizard and green lizard occupancy rates over the last 12 years
- the palmate newt and slow worm have increased in estimated occupancy over the last 12 years
- toads were the most abundant amphibian recorded
- agile frogs remain restricted to the south west of the island
- green lizards were the most observed reptile
- slow worms were the most widespread of Jersey's reptiles
- wall lizards were observed in a handful of coastal localities
- additional data shows a wider, yet still restricted, distribution for the grass snake
- species richness was greatest in coastal regions, and was generally higher in 2013-2018 years
- habitat quality remained stable over the last 12 years
- the current NARRS survey design is unsuitable for monitoring Jersey's grass snake population
- for greater confidence in the occupancy status of Jersey’s species, widespread amphibians (toads and palmate newts) require five survey visits at a site, and for widespread reptiles (slow worms and green lizards) six survey visits are required
- the agile frog, wall lizard and grass snake are rarer and / or more restricted in their distributions, and it is recommend that these are monitored with separate monitoring efforts to those used for the widespread species
- utilise refugia more regularly and in greater numbers for widespread reptile surveys
- carry out water quality monitoring
- carry out amphibian disease screening
Based on the report, recommendations resulted in the Development of future reptile and freshwater monitoring schemes in Jersey (Report B). Within this report, existing monitoring efforts for freshwater and reptilian biodiversity in Jersey were reviewed, and an applied science based approach was used to develop two new monitoring schemes for the island:
- Pondwatch JE
- Reptilewatch JE
These new schemes use robust and repeatable methods to generate data for future analyses of population status and trends, whilst maximising the data collected by volunteers and improving our overall knowledge on many of Jersey's species.
Both schemes have three different levels of involvement, depending on the experience, skill and time commitment of the volunteers.
Where previous monitoring schemes have focused on amphibians and reptiles, the new schemes offer greater variety in the species that can be recorded, and the methods that can be applied.