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Conservation Evidence Journal

Publishing evidence to improve practice


The Conservation Evidence Journal shares the global experience of those on the front line of conservation practice about the effectiveness of conservation actions. All papers include monitoring of the effects of the intervention and are written by, or in partnership with, those who did the conservation work. We encourage articles from anywhere around the world on all aspects of species and habitat management such as habitat creation, habitat restoration, translocations, reintroductions, invasive species control, changing attitudes and education. 

The Conservation Evidence Journal publishes peer-reviewed papers throughout the year collected in an annual Volume. We publish Special Issues and collate Collections on specific topics, such as management of particular groups of species or habitats. To search for papers on a specific topic within the journal select Advanced search, enter your keyword(s) and within the Source box type: "conservation evidence". This will take you to a list of actions that contain Conservation Evidence Journal papers. In order to see the list of individual Conservation Evidence Journal papers on the topic, please click on 'You can also search Individual Studies' at the top of this page.

Creative Commons License Copyright is retained by the author(s). All papers published in the Conservation Evidence Journal are open access and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

The Conservation Evidence Journal is a separate publication within the Conservation Evidence project. Conservation Evidence is a free, authoritative information resource designed to support decisions about how to maintain and restore global biodiversity. You can search for summarised evidence from the scientific literature about the effects of actions for species groups and habitats using our online database

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Volume 18

Effect of a joint policy statement by nine UK shooting and rural organisations on the use of lead shotgun ammunition for hunting common pheasants Phasianus colchicus in Britain

Green R.E., Taggart M.A., Pain D.J., Clark N.A., Clewley L., Cromie R., Elliot B., Green R.M.W., Huntley B., Huntley J., Leslie R., Porter R., Robinson J.A., Smith K.W., Smith L., Spencer J. & Stroud D. (2021), 18, 1-9


There are significant negative effects of exposure to spent lead ammunition on wildlife and human health. A joint statement was issued by nine UK shooting and rural organisations on 24th February 2020 intended to encourage a voluntary transition to non-lead shotgun ammunition within five years “in consideration of wildlife, the environment and to ensure a market for the healthiest game products”. We dissected carcasses of wild-shot common pheasants Phasianus colchicus sold or offered for human consumption in Britain in the shooting season between 1st October 2020 and 1st February 2021 to recover shotgun pellets. The principal metallic element composing one pellet from each bird was identified using inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry. The results showed that 99% of the 180 pheasants from which shotgun pellets were recovered had been killed using lead shotgun ammunition, compared with 100% in a much smaller study conducted in the 2008/2009 shooting season. We conclude that the shooting and rural organisations’ joint statement, and their subsequent promotional actions, have not yet had a detectable effect on the ammunition types used by shooters supplying pheasants to the British game market.


Effect of height and colour of bee bricks on nesting occupancy of bees and wasps in SW England

Shaw R.F., Christman K.P., Crookes R., Gilbert C.N. & Osborne J.L. (2021), 18, 10-17


Bee bricks are a novel solitary-bee nesting habitat made from reclaimed concrete, designed to be built into walls to provide nest sites in urban areas. We tested if cavity-nesting bees and wasps used bee bricks, and if they showed any preference for nesting in bricks of different colours or at different heights. We carried out surveys of solitary bees in 15 private urban gardens and eight rural public gardens, where the bee bricks were then placed for two years (2016-2017). Bee bricks were placed on structures that were either 1 m in height with 4 bricks (red, yellow, white and wooden control) or with three platforms where white bricks were placed at 0 m, 0.6 m or 1.0 m above the ground. The number of occupied nest holes was counted at the end of each summer. Nesting holes that were capped with mud were more common than those capped with chewed or cut leaves. The average % of holes capped with either mud or chewed leaf was greatest in red bricks and lowest in wooden controls. Only one brick out of 39 placed at ground level had capped holes, although the difference in the % of holes capped between heights was not statistically significant. Cavity-nesting bees and wasps use solitary-bee bricks for nests, but population level impacts are still untested.


Evidence of widespread illegal hunting of waterfowl in England despite partial regulation of the use of lead shotgun ammunition

Stroud D., Pain D.J. & Green R.E. (2021), 18, 18-24


Shooting of birds using lead shotgun ammunition was legal for all quarry species in the UK until 1st September 1999, when the Environmental Protection (Restriction on Use of Lead Shot) (England) Regulations 1999 and similar regulations in other UK countries came into effect. These regulations made it illegal to shoot ducks and geese and some other waterfowl species in England with lead shotgun ammunition and/or to use it in certain wetland habitats. The legislation was intended to reduce the incidence of lead poisoning of wetland birds caused by ingested and embedded shotgun pellets. We evaluate the effectiveness of this legislation by estimating the number of ducks shot in England with lead shot. We also assess the effectiveness of awareness-raising actions about the regulations, including an advocacy campaign intended to encourage compliance, and an undertaking by the UK Government to examine ways to improve compliance and enforcement. We estimate that about 13 million ducks have been shot illegally using lead shotgun ammunition in England since 1st September 1999 - an annual average of approximately 586,000 and representing approximately 70% of the total ducks shot. There was no detectable decline in the number of ducks killed using lead shotgun ammunition following the awareness-raising publicity and advocacy campaign by shooting and countryside management organisations. The government review of implementation and enforcement of the Regulations on the level of this wildlife crime was not followed by any new prosecutions. There has been one prosecution for an offence under the Lead Shot Regulations. We conclude that the 1999 Regulations and attempts to promote compliance with them have effected only a small reduction in the use of lead shotgun ammunition in wetlands in England.

Using Dartmoor ponies in conservation grazing to reduce Molinia caerulea dominance and encourage germination of Calluna vulgaris in heathland vegetation on Dartmoor, UK

Lunt P.H., Leigh J.L., McNeil S.A. & Gibb M.J. (2021), 18, 25-30


The increasing dominance of purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea in heathland ecosystems in the UK is of growing concern due to its detrimental impact on plant and animal diversity on sites of nature conservation interest. The use of free-ranging ponies to reduce Molinia dominance was investigated from 2017 to 2019 within a 425 ha site on Dartmoor, UK. Salt blocks were used to attract the ponies to a Molinia-dominated area of heath within the site, away from their previously-preferred grazing areas. The impact of pony grazing was assessed by measurements of vegetation structure and plant species composition. The increased presence of ponies in the vicinity of the salt blocks increased the percentage occurrence of bare ground, reduced sward surface height, reduced percentage occurrence of Molina and increased the germination of heather Calluna vulgaris seedlings. The conclusions of this research are that salt blocks can be used to attract ponies to graze targeted areas of Molinia-dominated heathland. Through their grazing and trampling, ponies can reduce the dominance of Molinia, leading to an increase in the germination and establishment of heather seedlings.


Autumn electrofishing reduces harm to Ontario (Canada) stream fishes collected during watershed health monitoring

Reid S.M. & LeBaron A. (2021), 18, 31-36


Electrofishing surveys provide important information on watershed health, and the status of imperiled and recreationally important stream fishes. Concerns about the harmful effects of electrofishing on the endangered redside dace Clinostomus elongatus have resulted in restrictions on its use in sampling activities in the province of Ontario, Canada. However, the effectiveness of these restrictions is unproven. We undertook a paired sampling gear study in 2018-2019 to test whether an alternate gear (seine nets) or a change in electrofishing timing (autumn rather than summer) reduced harm to stream fishes. The study took place in streams located in the Greater Toronto Area. We found large differences in the frequency and magnitude of sampling-related mortalities between sampling gear and seasons. During individual surveys, electrofishing mortality never exceeded 9% in the summer or 4% in the autumn, while seining-related mortality reached 60% at two stream sites. Overall, autumn electrofishing resulted in mortality rates that were 5.6 and 15 times lower than summer electrofishing and summer seining. These results indicate that survival of Ontario stream fishes can be improved by delaying electrofishing until early autumn.


Comparing post-release cover and burrow use by differentially head-started Mojave desert tortoises in southern California

McGovern P.A., Peaden J.M., Buhlmann K.A., Todd B.D. & Tuberville T.D. (2021), 18, 37-43


The effects of indoor rearing versus the conventional method of solely outdoor head-starting on post-release cover and burrow use of juvenile Mojave desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii), a threatened endemic species, were investigated. We found that partially indoor-reared tortoises exhibited similar post-release behaviours when compared to both same-aged, but smaller, and similar-sized, but older outdoor-reared head-started tortoises, thus increasing the success and decreasing the costs of head-starting.


Control of meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria through a change of management from grazing to mowing at an English floodplain meadow.

George L., Rothero E.C., Tatarenko I., Wallace H., Dodd M., Reed N., Fleckney A., Bellamy G. & Gowing D. (2021), 18, 44-49


Floodplain meadow grassland is a diverse habitat which has become increasingly rare throughout Europe. Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria, is a characteristic species of its plant community, however it can become overly dominant in the sward resulting in detrimental effects on the community as a whole. High abundance can reduce both the diversity of the sward, by shading out low growing species, and the quality of the hay crop.

An eight-year management trial (2011-2019) was undertaken at Fancott Woods and Meadows SSSI by the BCN Wildlife Trust and the Floodplain Meadows Partnership, to test whether it was possible to reduce the dominance of meadowsweet through an annual hay cut with aftermath grazing instead of grazing management only, across three blocks of experimental treatments. A secondary aim of the trial was to investigate whether a change in management could also increase the plant-species diversity. Three plots were cut in June and then aftermath grazed, compared to three control plots that were only grazed from July onwards. The study found that cover of meadowsweet decreased from 55% to 6% under the annual cut and aftermath grazing treatment compared to a decrease from 58% to 35% in the control (grazed only) areas. This was accompanied by an increase in plant-species diversity in the cut areas compared to control plots. The study concluded that annual cutting can be used to control coarse and dominant meadowsweet effectively, and that cutting followed by aftermath grazing in a floodplain meadow delivers greater botanical diversity compared to grazing alone.


Flashing lights to deter small stock depredation in communal farmlands of Namibia

Verschueren S., Torres-Uribe C., Briers-Louw W.D., Fleury B., Cristescu B. & Marker L. (2021), 18, 50-51


Flashing lights can work as an effective visual deterrent to protect livestock in kraals at night against wild carnivores.




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What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

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