Mammal Society Science Officer Frazer Coomber writes:
We were recently contacted by Philippa Mountjoy of East Anglia’s Shifting Sands project.
Shifting Sands is one of nineteen nationwide Back from the Brink conservation programmes which aims to save 20 animal, plant and fungi species from extinction and benefit over 200 more.
The focus of the Shifting Sands project is Breckland (or the Brecks) and the rabbits which are its keystone species. Phillippa explains “Breckland is unusual in lots of ways – the landscape is unique (open, sandy, dry lowlands), it supports incredible biodiversity, and in this area rabbits act as a keystone species. They maintain conditions which many rare plant & invertebrate species rely on; by grazing down the competitive grasses, creating a mosaic of successional habitats, and disturbing the ground with burrowing, they act as essential habitat engineers.”
Rabbit numbers are in decline and this means that the Brecks and the numerous species which inhabit it are at risk.
Part of the Shifting Sands project involves creating habitat enhancement plots and monitoring the sites. Philippa got it touch with us as they have volunteers who could play a vital part in the project on a larger scale, by recording rabbit populations in the Brecks using the Mammal Mapper app.
We were really happy to get involved and we’ll be heading to BTO at The Nunnery in Thetford on the afternoon of Friday 26 July to meet up with citizen scientists and provide a free Mammal Mapper workshop and guided walk. If you are interested in taking part on the day please email ShiftingSands@NaturalEngland.org.uk.
For more details, or if you’re running a similar scheme and would like more information on using the Mammal Mapper app for recording, please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org.