Mammals

Context

Mammal features on SSSIs can be notified if they qualify under criteria outlined in sections 3.1 - 3.4 of Chapter 13 'Mammals' of the Guidelines for Selection of Biological SSSIs.  In Northern Ireland, ASSIs are selected on a very similar basis – the Guidelines for the Selection of Biological ASSIs in Northern Ireland is an addendum to the SSSI guidelines rather than an alternative.  Sites are currently notified mostly for bats, otter and seals.

 
Sites for seals may be notified both for moulting haul-out or for breeding locations.  The basis of site selection for otter is mainly breeding holts or holt complexes, together with the immediate surroundings and cover.  For bats, both hibernating and breeding sites can be selected, in some cases for individual species, in others for an assemblage of breeding and hibernating species.  
 
Sites are not notified directly for other mammals such as pine marten Martes martes, wildcat Felis sylvestris, polecat Mustela putorius, red squirrel Sciurus vulgaris, common dormouse Muscardinus avellanarius, yellow-necked mouse Apodemus flavicollis, Orkney vole Microtus arvalis orcadensis and lesser white-toothed shrew Crocidura suaveolus, but such species can be taken into account as attributes that enhance the value of sites that are notified predominantly for habitat or botanical features.
 
Mammals listed on Annex II of the EC Habitats Directive, and thereby qualifying as features for the selection of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), are: lesser horseshoe bat Rhinolophus hipposideros, greater horseshoe bat Rhinolophus ferrumequinum, barbastelle Barbastella barbastellus, Bechstein's bat Myotis bechsteinii, bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus, harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena, otter Lutra lutra, grey seal Halichoerus grypus and harbour (common) seal Phoca vitulina.
 

Summary statistics

  SAC A/SSSI Total
Favourable condition 65% 72% 67%
Main monitoring coverage E, S E, S  
Reported assessments 97 47 144
Completeness of assessments 66% unknown  
Distribution of features     UK
 

Number of assessments reported by country and site type

Country SAC SSSI/ASSI
England 48 32
Scotland 42 15
Wales 7 0
Northern Ireland 0 0
United Kingdom 97 47
 

Natura features

List of Natura 2000 interest features within this reporting category

Interest feature name  
Formal name Informal name No. of assessments reported Total no. of features % assessed
Barbastella barbastellus Barbastelle 7 9 78%
Halichoerus grypus Grey seal 5 12 42%
Lutra lutra Otter 57 76 75%
Myotis bechsteini Bechstein's bat 8 9 89%
Phoca vitulina Common seal 2 11 18%
Rhinolophus ferrumequinum Greater horseshoe bat 10 12 83%
Rhinolophus hipposideros Lesser horseshoe bat 7 15 47%
Tursiops truncatus Bottlenose dolphin 1 3 33%
 
Natura 2000 comprises Special Protection Areas (under the Birds Directive) and Special Areas for Conservation (under the Habitats and Species Directive). The list presented here includes all of the qualifying interest features under these Directives, and shows the proportion of these features for which a condition assessment has been made.
 

SSSI features

List of SSSI and ASSI interest features in this reporting category

Interest feature name  
Formal name Informal name No. of assessments reported
Halichoerus grypus Grey seal 8
Lutra lutra Otter 8
Muscardinus avellanarius Dormouse 3
Phoca vitulina Common seal 3
Rhinolophus ferrumequinum Greater horseshoe bat 7
Rhinolophus hipposideros Lesser horseshoe bat 4
Barbastella barbastellus and Myotis bechsteini Maternity colonies of Barbastelle and Bechstein`s bats 2
Hibernating populations of bats Hibernating populations of bats 12
 
This list has not been fully standardised at a UK level yet. It is intended to show the principal constituent "feature types" for this reporting category.
 

Maps - distribution

UK distibution of reported interest features

Distribution of reported interest features.

Map showing the locations of the 10km squares in which at least one condition assessment has been reported. It does not show features that have not yet been assessed.

 

Maps - Natura

Distribution of SAC features showing assessments of favourability Condition of SAC features, with those currently reported as unfavourable-recovering shown as favourable
Current condition of SAC features
Distribution of SAC features showing assessments of favourability (where unfavourable-recovering is counted as unfavourable).
Condition of SAC features, with those currently reported as unfavourable-recovering shown as favourable
The implication of the unfavourable-recovering condition assessments is that at some point in the future these features should become favourable. This map shows the effect of that recovery by counting the favourable and unfavourable-recovering assessments together.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: we do not have information on the timescale of the predicted recovery, which may be influenced by many past, natural and human related factors. A sustained sympathetic management regime is more likely to result in favourable condition being attained.

Key: Proportion of assessed features on 10km squares that are favourable:

Natura map legend - Key: proportion of assessed features on 10km squares that are favourable

 

Details of how these maps were produced

 

Maps - SSSI

Current condition of SSSI/ASSI features Condition of SSSI/ASSI features, with those currently reported as unfavourable-recovering shown as favourable
Current condition of SSSI/ASSI features
Distribution of SSSI/ASSI features showing assessments of favourability (where unfavourable-recovering is counted as unfavourable).
Condition of SSSI/ASSI features, with those currently reported as unfavourable-recovering shown as favourable
The implication of the unfavourable-recovering condition assessments is that at some point in the future these features should become favourable. This map shows the effect of that recovery by counting the favourable and unfavourable-recovering assessments together.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: we do not have information on the timescale of the predicted recovery, which may be influenced by many past, natural and human related factors. A sustained sympathetic management regime is more likely to result in favourable condition being attained.

Key: Proportion of assessed features on 10km squares that are favourable:

SSSI map legend - Proportion of assessed features on 10km squares that are favourable

 

Details of how these maps were produced

 

Condition summary

Reporting category condition summary on Natura 2000 sites and SSSI

This lists the 10 different condition assessments and presents a bar chart showing the number of features within the SSSI series and the Natura 2000 series (either SPA for bird features or SAC for features other than birds). Note that for Natura 2000 we are able to estimate the number of features that have not been assessed during the 6 year reporting period - we are unable to do this for SSSI/ASSI because we do not have an overall list of notified interest features for these designations.

 

NB favourable unclassified and unfavourable unclassified have been used in this first six year cycle to get around difficulties in identifying trends in condition as common standards monitoring is implemented. It is expected that these categories will not be used for subsequent assessments of a feature.

 

Condition assessment - Natura 2000 features

The number and proportion of assessments for Natura 2000 (SAC and SPA) interest features falling into each of the condition categories
The number and proportion of assessments for Natura 2000 (SAC and SPA) interest features falling into each of the condition categories. Note that the �unfavourable� category includes all reports of unfavourable condition except �unfavourable recovering� which is shown as a separate segment.
 

Condition assessment - SSSI features

The number and proportion of assessments for SSSI/ASSI interest features falling into each of the condition categories
The number and proportion of assessments for SSSI/ASSI interest features falling into each of the condition categories. Note that the �unfavourable� category includes all reports of unfavourable condition except �unfavourable recovering� which is shown as a separate segment.
 

Adverse activities

The number of interest features where an activity has been reported as being implicated in the "unfavourable" condition of a feature
The number of interest features where an activity has been reported as being implicated in the "unfavourable" condition of a feature. More than one adverse activity may be reported for each feature.
 

Management measures

The measures summary bar chart lists the management measures relevant to the reporting category
For each "measure" the chart shows the number of interest features where that measure has been taken on a site to improve or maintain the condition of an interest feature. More than one measure may be reported for each feature assessed.
 

Interpretation

Overall 67% of the mammal features reported are in favourable condition.  This is the average for species features but above the average for all features.  72% of the A/SSSI and 65% of the SAC features reported are in favourable condition.  A further 11% of A/SSSI and 10% of SAC features reported are in unfavourable-recovering condition. 

Bats

53% of bat features reported are in favourable condition.  Two thirds of the sites notified for hibernating bat populations are reported as favourable.  For greater Rhinolophus ferrumequinum and lesser horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros bats the corresponding figures are 47% and 53% respectively.  Through the national bat monitoring programme, we know lesser horseshoe bat to be increasing - further investigation is therefore needed to ascertain why half of the features reported are unfavourable. 
 
Bechstein's and barbastelle bats are restricted to England.  Two-thirds of the barbastelle Barbastella barbastellus assessments reported are in favourable condition, which is encouraging for barbastelle conservation, a species poorly covered by other monitoring schemes.  Conversely, only one of eight Bechstein's bat Myotis bechsteini sites is favourable.  As one of the UK's rarest mammals the distribution and habitat preferences of this species are not well understood, however forestry practices and lack of remedial management measures, amongst others, appear to be the key threats.  As all sites have management agreements it is hoped this trend will soon be reversed.

Otter

82% of the sites on which otter Lutra lutra is reported are in favourable condition.  All of the otter SACs and SSSIs reported from Scotland are reported to be favourable, a recent national survey also found Scottish otter populations to be in good condition.  In England only 4 of the 15 otter sites are favourable; however this does not match with other recent surveys which suggests their populations are recovering throughout large areas of their former range.  Further information is therefore needed before any judgements can be made about how the site series is aiding otter conservation in England.  In Wales, 5 sites are reported, all assessed as favourable.

Seals

77% of seal assessments reported are favourable.  It is encouraging that many of the harbour seal Phoca vitulina and grey seal Halichoerus grypus sites are in a favourable condition in Scotland.  In England all three grey seal sites reported are favourable but the one site for harbour seal (The Wash) is unfavourable-declining.  Here the unfavourable status was attributable to natural causes rather than human activities.  Harbour seal numbers have declined in The Wash in recent years as a result of the 2002 phocine distemper virus epizootic that reduced numbers by 22%.