Defra has recently published the results of an investigation into the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) to detect the presence of Great Crested Newt (GCN) in water bodies. On the basis of this study Natural England will now accept eDNA test results as evidence of presence or absence of GCN for licence applications.

Key information to note includes:

  • eDNA can have a better rate of GCN detection (99%) than a combination of conventional survey techniques ((95%);
  • It will detect GCN presence or absence within a water body up to 7 – 21 days after newts utilising it;
  • It requires 1 day time visit to each water body but the visit must be targeted when GCN are likely to be present in water bodies in the area (which may change on a yearly basis depending on local / regional conditions); and
  • The technique will not provide population size class assessments and therefore, should a population size class assessment be required to inform an EPS icence application, 6 survey visits will still be required using conventional survey methods, in accordance with current recommendations within the “Great Crested Newt Mitigation Guidelines, 2001”.