Archive of: April, 2017

‘Amphibians & Reptiles of Scotland’ book published

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‘Amphibians & Reptiles of Scotland’ book published

A new book, ‘Amphibians & Reptiles of Scotland’, has been published.  This is the most comprehensive publication on Scotland’s herptiles (amphibians and reptiles) in recent history, including all details of ecology and distribution for all of our native species (including sea turtles) as well as introduced and vagrant species.  Chapters also cover conservation, legal protection, cultural connections, projects and development mitigation.

The principle authors, Chris McInerny (University of Glasgow) and Pete Minting (Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust) bring a wealth of experience, while guest authors bring particular expertise.  Chris Cathrine (Caledonian Conservation Ltd) prepared the grass snake and development mitigation sections, while David O’Brien (Scottish Natural Heritage) wrote the chapter on great crested newt.  All authors drew on a wide range of published sources, and information from other experts.

The book also boasts lavish colour photographs, distribution maps and a beautiful frontispiece by Chris Rose.

Caledonian Conservation Ltd is proud to have sponsored the production of this book, which is an excellent resource for professionals and interested members of the public alike.

The book is available in print, costing £27.50 (inclusive of postage within the UK) – contact Chris McInerny for details of how to order your copy (

The book can also be downloaded as a free PDF from the Glasgow Natural History Society website.


TWIC 2017 Spring Conference: Farming and Biodiversity in Scotland – An Essential Partnership

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TWIC 2017 Spring Conference: Farming and Biodiversity in Scotland – An Essential Partnership

Caledonian Conservation Ltd is proud to sponsor The Wildlife Information Centre (TWIC) 2017 Spring Conference, to be held in Musselburgh on 29th April.  The topic, Farming and Biodiversity, is always important but is brought in to sharper focus with the uncertainty created by Brexit.

Farming and biodiversity are an essential partnership – farming cannot succeed without the ecosystem services necessary to support it, such as pollination (by wild solitary bees, bumblebees, beetles, flies, butterflies and moths as well as domesticated honey bees), soil creation and recycling (by a variety of worms, springtails, symphylans, fungi – the list goes on!), clean water and natural pest control.  Farming can also offer excellent opportunities to support biodiversity, for example birds (breeding habitat for farmland bird species, nesting opportunities for owls, foraging habitat for raptors and owls), mammals (foraging and roosting opportunities for bats), reptiles (hibernation sites in walls and foraging opportunities in field margins), amphibians (ponds and a mix of farmland habitats can be excellent for great crested newts), invertebrates and plants.

Reflecting this, the conference has a superb and varied programme with talks on soil communities (by Dr Tim Daniell of University of Sheffield / The James Hutton Institute), grey partridge conservation (by Fiona Torrance of The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust) and great crested newts (by Pete Minting of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust) amongst other topics.

Of course, members of the Caledonian Conservation Ltd team will also be at the conference, so it is an opportunity to learn more about the work we do.

The conference is free to attend, and includes a buffet lunch.

For more information on the programme and to book, visit the TWIC website.

We hope to see you there!


Museum Collections are Critical for Identifying Invertebrates

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Museum Collections are Critical for Identifying Invertebrates

In September 2016, Director Chris Cathrine carried out invertebrate surveys at Scottish Wildlife Trust’s (SWT) Balgavies Loch reserve using Caledonian Conservation’s bugvac (a modified leaf blower that sucks bugs into a net).  Bugvac is excellent at turning up invertebrates such as spiders and beetles hiding deep within vegetation that would be difficult to collect or missed entirely using traditional collection methods.  Recently we identified the species collected, however some of these invertebrates can be very difficult to differentiate from one another, even using the microscopes, identification keys and reference collections we have in the office. 

Luckily the National Museum of Scotland Collection Centre in Edinburgh allows access to their collections for reference and research, giving us the opportunity to compare anatomical features of our samples against curated specimens in the collection.  In Britain there are around 4,000 known beetle species and, just like people, individuals of each species are unique, coming in a natural range of shapes, colours and sizes.  Around a quarter of all beetles are members of the Staphylinidae family (rove beetles), many of which show only very minute physicals differences from one another.  A good reference collection with a number of specimens of the same species collected from different geographical locations can prove very useful in aiding identification.

Despite the difficulty of identifying some species, the information gained can be very useful for making informed decisions about changes to land management.  Since many invertebrate species require very specific microhabitats or host plants, they are often excellent indicators of habitat quality and change.  The conservation status and habitat preferences of the species identified in different parts of Balgavies Loch reserve will help SWT plan how the site can be best managed for a wide range of wildlife in the future.

Check out National Museum of Scotland’s website for more information about their excellent resources.

The SWT Balgavies Loch invertebrate report is also available to read via the Caledonian Conservation Ltd website, here.

Visit SWT's website to learn more about Balgavies Loch and their other reserves.


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