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Monitoring terrestrial mammals in the UK: past, present and future, using lessons from the bird world


J. E. Battersby. E-mail:


1. A monitoring network for UK terrestrial mammals, the Tracking Mammals Partnership, is currently being set up to provide a coordinated programme to collect surveillance and monitoring data.

2. Monitoring UK mammals is important for a number of reasons including: setting conservation priorities; measuring the effects of conservation management; managing populations of problem species and the sustainable use of game species; assessing the effects of agriculture and other human activities; providing evidence for the need for policy change; and because of obligations under intergovernmental treaties and national legislation.

3. The bird world, largely but not solely through the work carried out by the British Trust for Ornithology, has provided a useful model for mammal surveillance and some important lessons in setting up and running a UK wide multispecies monitoring programme.

4. Lessons include the importance: of annual monitoring; of long-term data sets of population indices rather than absolute population sizes; and of the use of volunteers in data collection.

5. Two scoping studies have been carried out to assess the feasibility and costs of setting up a mammal surveillance and monitoring network and the survey methods that could be used for different species.

6. The Tracking Mammals Partnership, comprising 23 organizations, has the remit of implementing the recommendations of the scoping studies. There are a number of programmes operating within the Partnership including the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme, the National Bat Monitoring Programme and the Breeding Bird Survey Mammal Monitoring. There are also a number of pilot schemes being tested.

7. Reports on the population trend data collected should enable more informed policy and management decisions concerning UK mammal species.