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Habitat management, protected species, biodiversity, genetic conservation and forest reproductive materials - commissioned reports



Date:
2012
Title:
Understanding the implications of climate change for woodland biodiversity and community functioning - synthesis of key findings
Author: Pam Berry, Yuko Onishi, James Paterson
Full report: PDF 
Synthesis report: PDF

Summary
This synthesis report summarises the work done in an earlier report commissioned by the Forestry Commission Understanding the implications of Climate Change for woodland biodiversity and community functioning, which reviewed the known effects of climate change on woodland biodiversity and functioning.



Date:
2011
Title:
Bechstein's bat survey
Author: Helen Miller
Summary report year 3 (Sept 2009-2010): PDF 

Summary
The Bechstein’s bat survey is a four year funded project which aims to map the UK distribution of the elusive Bechstein’s bat (Myotis Bechsteinii). Bechstein’s bat is a UK BAP priority species and is also listed on Annex II and IV of the Habitats Directive. Then PDF above is an interim progress report for the survey which has now completed its third survey season. The four-year project started in September 2007 and is due to end in September 2011.


Date: 2011
Title:
Woodland structure and birds – effects of woodland management and deer browsing
Author: Andrea Kiewitt
Project information: PDF

Summary

The project aims to investigate how habitat quality for woodland birds is affected by woodland management and deer browsing by undertaking a large-scale survey of lowland broadleaved woodland in the UK. This will be complemented by a reference survey of upland conifer woodlands where populations of the target bird species have remained more stable.



Date:
2011
Title: Habitat networks - reviewing the evidence base
Author: Rob Briers
Full report: PDF
Revised guidance:
PDF  PPT

Summary
The overall objective of this project is to review the evidence-base behind, and the assumptions implicit within, the use of least-cost modelling approaches to developing habitat networks. The principle aim is to undertake a survey of the current evidence and use this to develop advice and guidance on how these models are best applied, and the outputs interpreted, in practical land-use planning contexts. Secondarily, it is aimed to identify potentially productive topics for further research which would improve understanding of the range of appropriate applications for least-cost models.



Date: 2005 
Title: Survey of Welsh small-leaved lime woods for the scarce lime bark beetle Ernoporus tiliae
Author: Tony Drane
Full report: PDF

Summary
The scarce lime bark beetle Ernoporus tiliae is classed as a Red Data Book category 1 species and is listed as a Priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan due to its apparent decline in post war years. The objectives of the Species Action Plan for Ernoporus tiliae, for which the Forestry Commission is the Lead Partner, set out to learn more about the distribution and habitat requirements of the species. The survey in Wales carried out in the autumn of 2005 complements work carried out in England in 2001-2, and together provide for the first time, a countrywide distribution for the species. The survey has been funded by the Countryside Commission for Wales and the Forestry Commission.



Date: November 2005
Title: Restoration of wooded landscapes – Informing assumptions with microsatellite technology
Author: Andrew Lowe
Full report: PDF

Summary
Microsatellites are a very powerful molecular marker tool. They can and have been used extensively to understand the contemporary population dynamics and connectivity of individuals within different landscape settings, and are arguably the best molecular marker currently available for such purposes. The literature on conservation genetics has ballooned since the introduction of these markers. Numerous studies now exist that examine the dynamics of genetic diversity across changing landscapes, inc luding those subject to fragmentation. Using specialized statistical methods and variation within nuclear and organelle genomes, microsatellites also offer insights into historical colonization processes and population evolutionary history, which are informative for making predictions of contemporary and future colonisation dynamics and range shifts, e.g. due to landscape changes and climate change.

One of the strengths of a PCR-based marker like microsatellites is that it can be used with very small quantities of living and/or dead tissue of the study organism. Thus it is possible to use historically collected material (e.g. from herbaria or museums), and has added a temporal context to several studies. Whilst not a universal marker (one which can be applied to any organism), microsatellites can be developed for almost any species with even modest research budgets. Microsatellites have been isolated for a range of species, including, plants, mammals, birds, insects and fungi. Whilst microsatellites do not give the researcher direct access to community or habitat assessments of species richness, by applying a range of recently developed statistical methods, they inform on the processes of propagule, individual and population movement and dynamics for specific species.

Microsatellites have been applied to an increasing number of studies of European flora and fauna. This review documents a representative sample of this research to examine; historical colonization, contemporary gene flow dynamics and the impacts and restoration of fragmented landscapes. This review finds that microsatellites are suitable for assessing each of these parameters and give detailed information on an individual species response. A key concern of many surveyed studies is that genetic diversity and connectivity processes are impacted by fragmentation. This is evident across taxonomic groups. Strategies to improve habitat connectivity, such as corridors and stepping stones, are demonstrated to improve patch connectivity and increase gene tic diversity. However the literature also indicated that connected remnant networks of this type were not as effective at maintaining diversity as large blocks of continuous habitat.

Three key and related issues are prioritized for future research development:

  • Undertake genetic studies for a range of species (flora and fauna with a range of life history characteristics) within heterogeneous fragmented landscapes containing different patch sizes, isolations and histories. Studies should either be done within a single location or aim to integrate studies that control for scale and habitat quality.
  • Improved evaluation of natural dispersal/recruitment processes and corridors/stepping stones as methods to maintain diversity and rehabilitate habitats.
  • Improved understanding of genetic diversity and differentiation of individuals/ populations to be used for reintroduction and rehabilitation. Knowledge is required on the number, proximity and habitat/environmental context of reintroduced individuals to maximize diversity and adaptive potential whilst minimizing genetic erosion.

 
Date: November 2004
Title: The Current Level of Butterfly Monitoring in UK Woodlands
Author: Durwyn Liley, Tom Brereton and David Roy
Full report: PDF

Summary
In 2004 Butterfly Conservation produced a report to the Forestry Commission on the current level of butterfly monitoring in UK woodlands and potential use of the data to inform sustainable forestry.


Date: 2003
Title: FOCUS
Author: Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Full report: Volume 1, Volume 2, Summary of recommendations

Summary
IFOCUS (Finding Out Causes and Understanding Significance) is a programme of research, designed to further analyse data from CS2000, with the aim of answering a specific set of questions. Where necessary, data from other sources will also be used. A further aim of FOCUS is to recommend improvements to survey protocols. The FOCUS work is being undertaken by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.