Hazel Dormouse Species Conservation Strategy Pilot Project

Hazel dormice populations are experiencing ongoing declines, having reduced by 72% between 1993-2014. This is believed to be due to a loss and degradation of suitable habitats, reductions in traditional forestry methods such as coppicing, potentially exacerbated by increasingly unfavourable weather conditions resulting from climate change. At the University of Exeter, we are leading a 6-month project to develop and test evidence for a Species Conservation Strategy that aims to restore and improve dormouse conservation status. We are focusing on two pilot counties: Devon and Dorset. The project will involve:

· Mapping the locations of suitable habitats for hazel dormice across Devon and Dorset.

· Modelling hazel dormice populations across these landscapes to understand where the most important areas currently are.

· Bringing together evidence on management actions that benefit hazel dormice populations.

· Creating a range of future scenarios to understand what needs to be done to recover hazel dormice populations.

· Discussing with landowners, land managers, conservation organisations, and a variety of stakeholders, to understand what actions might be possible to help to recover hazel dormice populations.

The project is being led by the researchers at the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute (headed by Prof Robbie McDonald), and is working in partnership with colleagues at Newcastle University. The project is being sponsored by Natural England and is being delivered in partnership with Devon County Council and Dorset Council.

Research Team

Professor Robbie McDonald (University of Exeter)

Dr Regan Early (University of Exeter)

Dr Sarah Crowley (University of Exeter)

Dr Ben Phillips (University of Exeter)

Dr Olivia Bell (University of Exeter)

Zoe MacMullen (University of Exeter)

Dr Aileen Mill (University of Newcastle)

Professor Steve Rushton (University of Newcastle)

Dr Zelda Van Der Waal (University of Newcastle)