Great crested newts (GCN; Triturus cristatus) are a protected species in the UK1.
Deliberately capturing, killing, disturbing or injuring GCN at any life stage and damaging, destroying or obstructing access to a breeding or resting place, are prohibited by law. GCN surveys are required for development projects that could affect this species.
Most frequently ponds are surveyed during the GCN breeding season, which runs in the period from March until June. GCN survey methods for bodies of water that Natural England accept include: environmental DNA (eDNA) testing, bottle or funnel trapping, egg search, torch surveys and netting. eDNA analysis is a relatively new methodology where the presence of a species is detected by analysis of the DNA contained within an environmental sample (e.g. water or soil).
Organisms are continually shedding DNA into the environment. Shed skin cells, sperm, eggs, mucus and faeces are sources of DNA which GCN release into bodies of water during the breeding season. Although recent studies2 have indicated the GCN DNA can be found in the water at any time of the year, Natural England will only accept eDNA survey results from samples collected between 15 April and 30 June.
1. Great crested newts are listed as protected in the following documents: Appendix II of the Bern Convention; Annexes II and IV of the Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora; Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981; Schedule 2 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994.
2. Rees et al. BMC Res Notes (2017) 10:327; Buxton et al. (2017) Sci. Rep. 7, 46294; Buxton et al. (2018) PLoS One 13(1):e0191737
Cellmark has a history of pioneering the introduction of quality standards in DNA and forensic testing and our state of the art laboratories in Abingdon, Oxon, follow the protocol as set down by Defra and Natural England for the surveillance of Great Crested Newts.Proficient - even at the lowest concentrations
Cellmark participated in the Natural England GCN DNA proficiency test for the first time this season and our scientists were able to identify the presence of GCN DNA in even the lowest sample concentrations.
A result that means you can choose Cellmark with the confidence of receiving a "forensic quality" service and that your test results will be accepted by Natural England!
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