As mentioned in the summer edition of The Lark magazine, the CRT’s two farms in Herefordshire are involved in a research project into what kinds of hedgerow suit hazel dormice, an endangered species.

Ecologist Dave Smith is an expert in hazel dormice and bats and provides freelance surveying services in Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

He’s also studying towards a Master’s degree in Applied Ecology at the University of Gloucestershire. His dissertation has a working title of ‘variables effecting the presence or absence of hazel dormice in hedgerows’.

Dave explained: “Not a great deal of research has been done into dormice in hedges. Many surveys have been done in woodland, where they’re traditionally known to live, but they live in the wider countryside too if the habitat is good enough. Alongside being a freelance ecologist, I also do tree surgery and hedge laying, so hedges are part of my work.

“Hazel dormice are a rare, protected species and they’re on the edge of their distribution here, except for sites where they’ve been reintroduced further north.”

Dave is studying 10 sites in Herefordshire and West Worcestershire, including the CRT’s Awnells Farm and Turnastone Court Farm and several Wildlife Trust sites.

Dave added: “I will be creating a map of each site recording the height and width of hedges, number and size of gaps in the hedgerow, distance and connectivity to the nearest woodland, species composition of the hedge, and the percentage of suitable habitat in the surrounding landscape.

“I will then feed in data recording the presence or absence of hazel dormice in these hedgerows. I am carrying out dormouse surveys on four sites myself. I am grateful to CRT Wildlife Monitor Ruth Moss and her volunteers for monitoring dormice on Awnells Farm and Turnastone Court Farm, and to the Herefordshire Mammal Group and all the volunteers that are sharing dormouse monitoring data for this study.”

Dave will continue collecting data until the middle of September and his dissertation deadline is at the end of November. We look forward to finding out what he discovers.

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