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Shrew Project Proposals


This space is reserved for your proposals for research projects related to the biology and conservation of the Soricidae.

The Occurrence of the Water Shrew (Neomys fodiens) in Staffordshire

(Joanne Isaac / The Environment Agency 2001 / Environment Agency Proposal)

Date: Sat, 10 Mar 2001 04:11:45 EST
Subject: shrew proposal attachment2

I attach a copy of a shrew project proposal which we are currently undertaking at the Environment Agency, Upper Trent Area, England.  We would
like to see the project proposal online as it may encourage others to undertake similar surveys around Britain.

Many Thanks,
Joanne Isaac
Conservation Officer
Environment Agency

Contact: Frances Hall

Joanne Isaac / The Environment Agency 2001

Environment Agency Proposal:

The Occurrence of the Water Shrew (Neomys fodiens) in Staffordshire


In recent years, riparian species such as the otter (Lutra lutra) and water vole (Arvicola terrestris) have been at the forefront of conservation management strategies.

Populations of the water shrew (Neomys fodiens) are almost certainly affected by the same factors that have decimated otter and water vole populations. Such factors include drainage schemes and riverbank clearance, which can alter water supplies, reduce prey populations and destroy burrows. Shrews are also vulnerable to pollutants and pesticides in the water, which affect them indirectly via their prey and directly through grooming activities.

Water shrews are an elusive species and tend to occur in low densities in localised areas (Churchfield et al. 2001). As a consequence, little is known of their geographical distribution and habitat requirements in England. Water shrews, along with other shrew species, are protected under Schedule 6 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) and have been identified as a species of concern under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP). A nationwide survey of water shrew distribution has only recently been initiated in Britain (Churchfield et al. 2000) and the conservation status of this mammal remains unclear.

Aims and Approach:

The primary aim of this survey is to determine the occurrence of water shrews along watercourses in the Staffordshire area.

The survey will use the ‘bait tube’ method developed by Churchfield et al. (2000). Approximately 30 tubes will be used per site, dependant upon site size. Tubes will be baited with blowfly pupae and left in position for seven days at each survey site.

Any scats removed when the tubes are collected will be analysed using a binocular microscope. The scats of N. fodiens will be distinguished from those of terrestrial shrew species by the presence of aquatic invertebrates, such as Gammarus and Asellus.


The bait tube method of surveying water shrew activity will provide important information on water shrew activity, habitat preference and use. In undertaking this study the Environment Agency will be able to fulfill its duties to a) further water shrew conservation when undertaking its water management functions and b) promote the conservation of flora and fauna associated with the aquatic environment. Since water shrews are thought to be fairly localised in their distribution it is likely that opportunities to promote additional appropriate habitat may be required in order to reduce the risk of local extinctions.

This survey, along with similar studies being carried out nationwide, will provide crucial data on the current conservation status of the water shrew, encouraging the development of management plans to safeguard the future of the water shrew in Britain.


Churchfield, S., Barber, J., Quinn, C. 2000. Mammal Review. 30, 249-254

If you have a proposal you would like to see online, please contact me. I think it's a good vehicle, not only for attracting possible grantors, but also to gain the attention of the public. Since a proposal describes a project, it gives people a way to learn more about what you are doing. Many visitors to Shrew (ist's) Site enjoy reading in depth about work with the shrews.

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