Sunday, 12 April 2020

Q is for Quadrats, transects and other surveys

Please remember! We ask that people do not visit the Reserve particularly if you have to travel. All car parks on Holy Island are closed to visitors until government restrictions are lifted. Many residents on Holy island fall into the vulnerable category. Please adhere to these guidelines for the health and safety of yourself and others during this time.

As a discussed in a previous post, Lindisfarne is a National Nature Reserve. Part of being a National Nature Reserve is the ability to be an outdoor laboratory. Research and monitoring is carried out by  Natural England staff, volunteers, partner organisations and universities and is vital to inform whether particular management techniques on the Reserve are proving effective and finding innovative solutions to solve issues. On going monitoring and research can also be used to assess impacts and resilience of large scale issues such as climate change.

Every 5 years at Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve staff and volunteers descend to monitor fascinating and special vegetation in the dunes as part of the larger Long Term Monitoring Vegetation Surveys carried out throughout the country. Fifty fixed point markers are used for the quadrats required for the survey. 
Botany surveying in the dunes

Using quadrats is a great way to quantify the prevalence and make up of species in a given area. Quadrats are also used in the same way when surveying the salt marsh, eel grass beds and even the presence and population of winkles within the intertidal area.
Winkle survey on the rocky shore - quadrat can be seen at the bottom of the photograph!

Every year we monitor the biodiversity across the Reserve. Often the best way to do this is walking a set transect that is then repeated year after year to build up a data set of the wildlife using the area. A set butterfly transect in the dune system on Holy Island is walked every week during the spring and summer months; an important survey as HolyIsland is a hotspot on the Northumberland coast for Dark Green Fritillary. A transect is also walked to ascertain the breeding bird assemblage in the dunes. This is walked twice a year both early and midway through the breeding season. This survey builds up a picture of the importance of the habitat for breeding Skylarks and Meadow Pipits. Both these data sets are then shared with the Butterfly Conservation Society and the BTO respectively.

As the majority of the Reserve is intertidal there are a number of rocky shore surveys that are carried out throughout the year. The Natural England Marine team assist in invasive species surveys within the rocky shore and also carry out MarClim surveys. This survey investigates the effects of sea temperature change on the marine biodiversity within the rocky reef and is building a long term data quantify the change.
Invasive species monitoring on the rocky shore

These surveys also sit alongside the annual Breeding Shorebird Monitoring Programme which I will describe in more detail in a later post. As you can see a vast amount of data is collated every year to draw conclusions from and feed back into the management plan. I would like to thank our volunteers, who give up their own time to assist in many of the surveys and without whom a lot of data would not be collected.

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