Crayfish Ark Site Project - Water Quality Monitoring Volunteer

Blackdown Hills AONB

Hemyock, Devon

Volunteer • Part Time 07977402399 Samantha Fraser

Sectors: ecology, conservation & wildlife, water & hydrology

Closing date: Friday, 22nd March 2019  

Background - Crayfish in the River Culm

The Blackdown Hills are designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) for their landscape value, including their importance for wildlife, geology and culture.

In 2018 The Blackdown Hills AONB Partnership (BHAONB) undertook the Culm Community Crayfish project which focussed on gathering data about native white-clawed crayfish and invasive non-native American signal crayfish in the River Culm. Although surveys found a small population of white-clawed crayfish surviving, this endangered species is now facing extinction due to the spread of the American signal crayfish.

To address this, The BHAONB is working with Paignton Zoo to safeguard the future of the species by identifying ‘ark’ sites where native crayfish can be translocated and perhaps one day put back into the river. Ark sites in this case are lakes and ponds where crayfish can safely live and breed away from the threat of invasive species. This is a vital part in the long-term protection of this native species in the Blackdown Hills.

Three potential new ark sites have been identified and these now need further regular monitoring during 2019, before crayfish can be released in 2020 and we are looking to recruit a volunteer to assist with this process.

What will this role involve, and commitment required?

The volunteer will be trained and supported by AONB staff and a crayfish specialist to collect and analyse water quality samples from potential ark sites to confirm suitability, ahead of releasing white clawed crayfish.

The role will require the following time commitment during normal weekday working hours, starting in March 2018 for 12 months:

  • Pond 1 - monthly water sample collection and analysis (3-4hrs total time)
  • Pond 2 - quarterly water sample collection and analysis (3-4hrs total time)
  • Pond 3 - quarterly water sample collection and analysis (3-4hrs total time)

The water quality monitoring includes the following:

  • Visiting ponds and collecting water samples whilst adhering to safety measures/ risk assessments and the AONB’s lone working policy.
  • Analysing water samples using technical equipment at AONB office in Hemyock.
  • Inputting water quality results/data into excel spreadsheet

After initial training, you will be undertaking the monitoring work alone and will need to be able to navigate to the survey locations and use a lone working buddy system with AONB staff.

What skills do you need?

We are looking for a volunteer with the following skills:

  • Ability to work safely in an outdoor setting - taking responsibility for your welfare
  • Good attention to detail and the ability to understand survey methods and accurately record data
  • A methodical approach to their work and comfortable using sensitive scientific equipment (full training required)
  • Own transport
  • The ability to work as a team with project staff

What’s in it for you?

  • Being part of an exciting project working with an internationally endangered species.
  • Experience working within the conservation sector with volunteers, members of staff and our AONB partners.
  • Full training is provided
  • Travel expenses reimbursed
  • Experience in wildlife surveys, recording and recording

As a volunteer for the Blackdown Hills AONB you will have the opportunity to be involved in other aspects of volunteering such a wildlife surveys, attending events, and being involved in other community engagement work. You will also gain knowledge about how AONBs work to conserve and enhance the landscape as well as invaluable work experience in the environmental sector.

Get in touch with the AONBs Volunteer Coordinator, Sammy, on

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