1 February 2019

The latest workshop for Abingdon schools involved in the Royal Society Partnership Grant wildlife monitoring project took place in the ASP lab this week.

Pupils and staff from the Eco-warrior club at Dunmore Primary, from Year 4 at Caldecott Primary and Year 5 at Thomas Reade Primary joined their secondary mentors from Abingdon and Fitzharrys Schools to discuss the results so far and ideas for the next phase of the project. They also started to receive more detailed training in animal behaviour and observation recording methods from Tanesha Allen, our scientist partner at Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit.

There was an interesting variation in numbers and species of wild animals recorded by our network of camera traps at each school, but this helped to formulate the final research question the group decided on for the next phase.

This is to carry out a study of wildlife access points at each school site and to report back on which access points seem to allow most wild animals onto school grounds. The primary pupils will now survey their schools to find suitable access points to monitor and the secondary mentors will be designing standard survey record forms, similar to those used by Tanesha in her own fieldwork.

One of the most exciting discoveries to date is that one of the schools is visited by a local badger. This will make it possible to carry out some research of direct relevance to Tanesha's work and to our project's overall aim, which is to answer the question 'How do badgers respond to the scent of animals from a distant population?'.

Work on this question and the final phase of the project will be able to start in the spring when the badgers emerge from their setts and become more active again.

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