My name is Cari Metcalfe and I am studying Wildlife Conservation at Aberystwyth University. Over the past year I have had the pleasure of volunteering at Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC), with the WTSWW for dormouse surveys at Cwm Clettwr, North Ceredigion Bat Group for bat surveys and spent a short spell at Ynys-hir RSPB Reserve as general volunteer.
I am incredibly fortunate, and very thankful to have been offered the opportunity to work with the Mid Wales Red Squirrel Partnership on a project for my dissertation. Over the next year I will be working in partnership with the Mid Wales Red Squirrel Partnership to establish an updated estimate of the populations of red squirrels in Mid Wales.
As a result of meetings, emails and consultations with Red Squirrel Officer (Sarah Purdon) it was decided that we would like to try to improve upon the population estimate using a combination of camera trapping and hair tube traps with genetic analysis. The genetic analysis would be done using hair obtained from the squirrels from the hair tube and microsatellite markers. Hopefully allowing us to, to some degree, distinguish between individual red squirrels.
Currently we are still in the pilot phase of the project. On the 16/03/2020 we set up the first of many pilot studies, whereby we set up five (unbaited) hair tubes with adjacent camera traps in an area of the woodland where red squirrels have been observed previously. The aim of this first pilot study is to establish if a) the red squirrels will use the hair tubes and b) if any hair captured can be used for genetic analysis. In the actual study we are hoping to have many more setups such as these where the location has been randomly chosen, so new locations may be tested and give us even more information on where the reds are present in the woodlands.