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Sign up for volunteer newt survey training in Abbeyleix

posted Mar 1, 2012, 1:15 PM by Mark Clancy   [ updated Mar 1, 2012, 1:18 PM ]


Registration is now open for a newt survey training day in Abbeyleix. This training is led by Dr Daniel Buckley and is free to all IWT members.

To register as a surveyor or for more information contact Daniel at newts@iwt.ie or on 086 3691982 or check out our website www.iwt.ie . Places are limited so book early to avoid disappointment.

Laois: 25th March, Abbeyleix Heritage House, Co. Laois

In 2011 the IWT National Newt survey continued to reveal some of the secrets of the smooth newt in Ireland. Starting with a pilot project in 2010 the IWT survey is the first comprehensive attempt to study the distribution of this native amphibian in Ireland.

Ireland has only three species of native amphibian: the common frog, the Natterjack toad (confined to sand dunes in Kerry and Wexford); and the smooth newt. Results from 2011 have revealed that smooth newts are widespread in Ireland with positive records coming from Cavan in the north to Cork in the south, and from Dublin to Connemara. Newts are only found in still or slow moving water so the preservation of ponds, ditches and wetlands is essential to their survival. While smooth newts were scarce in agricultural landscapes the IWT survey revealed that man-made habitats, particularly garden ponds and quarries are now significant components of the newts natural habitat. We have also confirmed that newts are to be found in bogland habitats somewhere that had previously been discounted as suitable for this species.

However more needs to be done to fully assess the status of this important species in the Irish landscape. Despite recording effort we found no newts in Wexford, Offaly or Meath while we need surveys in Donegal, Leitrim, Tipperary, Limerick, Kilkenny, Louth, Laois, Kildare and Carlow to confirm their presence in these counties.

Being an amphibian, the smooth newt depends on healthy wetland habitats for its life cycle. Wetlands are vital for people too cleaning and storing water, storing carbon to mitigate climate change, alleviating flooding and enhancing valuable amenity and tourist areas. The IWT National Newt Survey highlights the importance of protecting these habitats for newts and people alike!

Our survey has been carried out with the help of Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park and we are grateful for their continued support. Crucially we also rely on a small army of volunteer ‘citizen scientists’. Our enthusiastic naturalists are providing real scientific data that is promoting conservation in Ireland.

We are delighted to announce that the survey will continue in 2012 and will be calling on our members and volunteers to once again get out and search their local pond for newts! Training days will be taking place around the country in March. Places are limited so book early to avoid disappointment. To register as a surveyor or for more information contact Dr Daniel Buckley at newts@iwt.ie or on 086 3691982.

Full report can be downloaded from our newt project page http://iwt.ie/what-we-do/newt-survey/

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