Why British mammals?


© Water vole by Andy Brough. 

Because mammals matter

Mammals play a vital role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem in the British Isles, as keystone predator and prey species, indicators of habitat quality and diversity, and as shapers of our environment. Small mammals sustain our rare carnivores and birds of prey, and bats control insect numbers. Rabbits and deer are important grazers in grassland and forest. The otter and water vole indicate excellent water quality in our rivers. And thriving harvest mouse and hedgehog populations represent diverse, connected landscapes. 


© Brown hare by Silviu Petrovan.

What's the problem?

The natural environment in the British Isles faces a number of modern challenges. Mammals in particular have several:

  • Loss of habitat through land use change, development and agricultural intensification affects hares, harvest mice and hedgehogs;
  • Introduced species bringing risk of competition, hybridisation and disease to native mammals, particularly for water voles, red deer and red squirrels;
  • Conflicts with humans including road collisions, damage to housing, forestry and agriculture, and urbanisation of species like the fox; 
  • Information and research gaps that limit our understanding and ability to identify and help vulnerable populations.

Because of their elusive nature, finding and recording mammals is difficult, resulting in patchy, unreliable and out of date distribution records. We don’t know in enough detail how well they’re doing, where key populations exist and whether they are thriving. Without this information, population changes and declines can not easily be identified, important species movements and interactions can not be monitored and as such we can not reliably advocate effective conservation efforts. 


© Deer by Clare Rogowski

What is being done?

The Mammal Society is working to collect and share information on mammals to get a clearer picture of mammal distribution, abundance and population changes over time, and from that a better understanding of how mammals are being affected by the challenges they face. This information will support science-led conservation policy to ensure a future for mammals in a balanced, thriving ecosystem.

We support a growing network of mammal experts and enthusiasts who are  monitoring mammals, submitting records, sharing results of new research, developing skills on training courses, networking and working together, and through The Mammal Society are the national voice campaigning for conservation that benefits mammals.

Get involved and add to our collective efforts to understand and conserve mammals for the future.


© Common seal by Tim Hunt.