Bean, C.W. (2003c). A standardised survey and monitoring protocol for the assessment of spine-deficient stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus, populations in the UK. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough 43pp.

Bean, C.W. (2003c). A standardised survey and monitoring protocol for the assessment of spine-deficient stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus, populations in the UK. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough 43pp.
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  A standardised survey and monitoring protocol for theassessment of spineless stickleback ( Gasterosteus aculeatus L.) populations in the UK Final ReportPrepared by:Dr Colin BeanScottish Natural HeritageAdvisory ServicesFreshwater Group January 2003  2 CONTENTSPageExecutive Summary31. Introduction6The Biology of Sticklebacks within the UK72. Stickleback Distribution7 2.1 Global Distribution72.2 Distribution Within the British Isles7 3. Biology of the stickleback8 3.1 Genetic relationships83.2 Age and Growth93.3 Spawning and Fecundity93.4 Diet and Feeding103.5 Parasites and Disease10 4. Conservation Status105. Exploitation of Natural Stocks10Sampling and Monitoring of Stickleback Populations116. Review of stickleback sampling methodologies 11 6.1 Electric fishing116.2 Seine netting and hand netting126.3 Trapping13 7. Description of the selected sampling method 148. Sampling strategy15 8.1 Temporal considerations158.1.1 Seasonal 158.1.2 Diel158.2 Number of sites and fequency of sampling15 9. Field treatment of stickleback samples 1610. Laboratory treatment of stickleback samples 17 9.1 Storage179.2 Somatic measurements189.3 Assessment of maturity and age189.4 Condition18 11. Reporting19  3 12. Assessment of Conservation Status1913. Costings 2012. References21  4 EXECUTIVE SUMMARYBackground One of the special functions of the three country agencies (Scottish NaturalHeritage, Countryside Council for Wales, and English Nature) is theestablishment of common standards throughout Great Britain for themonitoring of nature conservation. The standards will apply to statutory sitesdesignated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and Areas of SpecialScientific Interest (ASSIs). They will also apply to areas designated as part of the Natura 2000 series, (Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and SpecialProtection Areas (SPAs) under the EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) and EUBirds Directive (79/409/EEC), together with Ramsar sites designated under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. A review of ecological and habitat needs of Arctic charr suggests that water quality and the availability of suitable spawning areas are the key featureswhich dictate their distribution and abundance. Spineless stickleback condition assessment Three strategies are proposed for assessment of conservation status of spineless stickleback populations in SSSIs.  Abundance classification : The first approach classifies the density of spineless stickleback in order to establish the relative condition of fishpopulations in lakes. No comparative data are available for spinelesssticklebacks within the UK or abroad to enable comparisons to be madebetween SSSIs and other sites. Abundance may be used as an indicator of population status once a number of surveys have been carried out inthis location and other sites. Only once this task has been completedcan numerical density targets be set. Initial survey work on LochRuthven suggests a favourable condition threshold of one spinelessstickleback per m 2 . The ratio of spined: spineless stickleback morphshould be recorded. Population demographic structure:  A further assessment can be made of the demographic structure of the population, i.e. the contribution of differentage classes to the population to demonstrate recruitment success. Three-spine sticklebacks are relatively short-lived species and typically up to five ageclasses may be present within any population. Juvenile (0+) fish shoulddominate fish populations in any given year and should be present insignificant numbers. It is suggested that to achieve favourable conditionspineless stickleback populations should have > 40 % of individuals inthe 0+ age class.  5 In addition to numerical targets for juvenile production, it is suggestedthat demographic structure of the population should reflect acontinuous pattern of recruitment. Maintenance of habitat quality: Sticklebacks are commonly, but notexclusively, associated with littoral vegetated habitat during the summer months. Changes in habitat quality through the loss of fringingmacrophytes (particularly sedge spp.) should not have occurred to anydegree if favourable condition is to be recorded.Monitoring strategy Monitoring should be carried out using a modified 0.19 m 2 hand trawl. A seriesof ten 10 m long trawls should be carried out at three locations within sedgebeds and other fringing macrophytes is recommended as the approach toprovide an overview of the status of the spineless stickleback populationswithin SSSI’s. All sampling should be carried out during daylight hoursbetween the months of August and September.Other data required to interpret the status of spineless stickleback populationsinclude fork length, weight, condition, sex and state of maturity. Ageing can becarried out by plotting length-frequency distributions although it may benecessary to verify this approach by otolith reading.Information relating to the nutrient status of each waterbody containingspineless stickleback and the current distribution of fringing macrophytes isalso required. If possible, this information should be viewed against long-termdata sets.Prior to undertaking fisheries surveys there is a need to ensure theappropriate access permission and fishing rights have been obtained. Costings  Approximate costings for carrying out a monitoring survey for spinelessstickleback by external consultants are provided.
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