The British Herpetological Society

The Herpetological Journal is the Society's prestigious quarterly scientific journal. Articles are listed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences,Current Contents, Science Citation Index, and Zoological Record.

 ISSN 0268-0130

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pdf 07. How reliable is the habitat suitability index as a predictor of great crested newt presence or absence?


Open Access

pp. 111-117

Authors: Andrew S. Buxton, Hannah Tracey & Nick C. Downs

Abstract: The application of a habitat suitability index (HSI) assessment to predict the use of ponds by great crested newts (Triturus cristatus) is commonly used in association with distribution and monitoring projects. Such projects are often used to inform development and planning decision making. However, this type of assessment is frequently misused, and misinterpreted. We used a large, commercially collected environmental DNA (eDNA) survey for great crested newt pond occupancy (489 ponds) to; (1) assess whether it is appropriate to use low HSI scores to rule out occupancy, (2) discuss the use of high HSI scores to identify ponds of high importance for the species and, (3) explore the eDNA detection method. We conclude that there is no evidence to support ruling out pond occupancy based on low HSI scores. However, the conventional view that ponds with HSI scores above 0.7 are of high importance to great crested newts is somewhat supported by the data. Both eDNA and direct observational survey methodologies suffer from sampling error and these need to be acknowledged in the analysis of large data sets.

Keywords: Great crested newt, habitat suitability index, HSI, Triturus cristatus, environmental DNA, presence absence survey

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Please note that as from Volume 31 Number 1 (January 2021) on, the Herpetological Journal will be available as an online publication only - the last print edition will be Volume 30 Number 4.   

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