Researcher helping to protect seabird colonies

A research student at Nottingham Trent University is playing a key role in the conservation of seabird colonies at Alderney in the Channel Islands.

Many vulnerable seabird species breed on Alderney and its surrounding islands, such as Shags, Razorbills, Guillemots and the iconic Atlantic Puffin.
Nicola Cox, Nottingham Trent University

A research student at Nottingham Trent University is playing a key role in the conservation of seabird colonies at Alderney in the Channel Islands. Nicola Cox – who is studying for a Master's degree in Endangered Species Recovery and Conservation – is working with the Alderney Wildlife Trust to detect if there is rat presence on the island.

Rats can pose a serious threat to the seabirds, taking eggs and chicks from the nests, and so the conservation work is seen as vital. Surveys carried out by Nicola will aid the ongoing rat control in the area, which is being led by the States of Alderney's Agriculture Team.

The work, which will run until the end of July, involves placing non-toxic 'rat attractive' chew sticks – wooden dowels covered in cocoa powder - along the coastal paths. The sticks will be checked every few days to look for teeth marks which would indicate rat presence.

Nicola, who is based in the University's School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences, said: "Many vulnerable seabird species breed on Alderney and its surrounding islands, such as Shags, Razorbills, Guillemots and the iconic Atlantic Puffin.

"Therefore carrying out rat presence and absence surveys around these colonies, of which some sites are previously unstudied, will be vital in the ongoing conservation efforts currently undertaken by the Alderney Wildlife Trust and the States of Alderney's Agriculture Team. The baseline research may also help develop rat monitoring programmes in other areas in which seabirds are present."

Members of the public who see any sticks which appear to have been gnawed, or accidentally removed or damaged, should please contact the Alderney Wildlife Trust on 01481 822935.

Researcher helping to protect seabird colonies

Published on 25 July 2014
  • Category: Research; School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences

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