Great crested newt survey
Great crested newts (Triturus cristatus) and their associated habitats are protected by European legislation. There have been significant population declines in great crested newts over recent decades, mainly due to habitat loss from agricultural intensification. If potential great crested newt habitat is to be significantly affected by a proposed development, then further survey work should be carried out.
Habitat suitability index surveys should be undertaken to identify any potential great crested newt breeding ponds within the site boundary or within the local area. If any of these waterbodies are identified as being suitable for great crested newts then further phase 2 surveys should be undertaken to establish presence or absence.
Three methods per visit effort, should be undertaken to understand the presence/absence of the species. The following techniques can be used:
- Torch survey
- Bottle trapping
- Egg search
Great Crested Newt Eggs Search
April – June are the most effective months for undertaking egg searches for newts. The female can lay up to 200 individual eggs on both live or dead, submerged vegetation. This can all be completed over a period of a several weeks, which gives ecologists a short window for egg hunting! After a female has laid an egg on a leaf, she will often fold the vegetation around the egg to act as protection and cover during the developmental stage of the embryo.
Photo 1: Great crested newt egg
Smooth and palmate newts on the other hand lay greyish-brown or dirty white coloured eggs, surrounded by a translucent jelly capsule that is roughly 3mm across, which is significantly smaller in size. Smooth and palmate eggs are very impossible to differentiate in the field. (Photo 2).
Photo 2: Smooth or palmate newt egg
English Nature. 2001. Great crested newt mitigation guidelines. [pdf]
Langton, T., Beckett, C. and Foster, J. 2001. Great crested newt conservation handbook. [pdf] Froglife: Halesworth.