At the start of June, a selection of ecologists from the ecology team at Arbtech paid a visit to the University of Southampton. Throughout the day, the team ran a careers workshop to offer advice to Soton students and were also fortunate enough to be allowed to use the university grounds as a suitable environment for training a few of the graduate consultants on various techniques for collecting newts and identifying them by species.

Organised by consultant ecologist Harley Stone, the University of Southampton agreed to let the group use the on-site campus pond to conduct a newt survey and demonstrate numerous exercises in surveying to the graduate Arbtechers present in exchange for leading an all-day ecology careers workshop. In total, eight members of the team took part in representing the company, including a mix of our graduate ecologists, consultant ecologists and principal ecologists.

Arbtech Run Careers Workshop and Training at the UoS

Speaking to Students About Getting Into Ecology

During a planned visit to the Highfield Campus at the UoS, an ecology careers workshop was set up in one of the lecture theatres. Students attending the university were then able to come and meet a handful of Arbtechers to discuss the possibility of working in the ecology sector in the future and what it entails. Graduate ecologist Georgina Rennie used this as an opportunity to run a QGIS (quantum geographic information system) workshop to demonstrate how the skills learned from different degrees could be transferable and utilised for such ecological concepts as biodiversity net gain (BNG).

Bringing with them a large amount of frequently used assessment gear, the ecologists displayed to UoS students how to operate many of the highly specialised survey equipment we use on a daily basis. After showing them footage from the infrared cameras we employ for bat surveys, they explained the sorts of tools, techniques and methodologies involved in this type of inspection, as well as the benefits of moving into ecological consultancy and working for Arbtech, with a focus on preliminary roost assessments (PRAs) and bat emergence and re-entry surveys (BERS) for bats.

Arbtech ecologists at the University of Southampton

Conducting Newt Survey Training in Valley Gardens

After students had finished asking questions about working in ecology, becoming an Arbtecher and relevant subject areas such as biodiversity net gain, preliminary ecological appraisals (PEAs) and protected species surveys, the ecologists moved outside to provide newt survey training to the graduates of the group. Involved in the training alongside Harley Stone and Georgina Rennie were Maddy Carter, Leah Cook, Anna Dolby, Olga Hermann, Millie Holland and principal ecologist and BNG lead Craig Williams. The University of Southampton kindly offered to let them use the campus pond situated within Valley Gardens.

With access to the rural grounds of the UoS, the team went through a wide range of survey techniques used during newt surveys, including bottle trapping, egg searching, torching and in-hand identification. Not only was the exercise useful to the graduates, but they were able to find every single species of newt native to the country in one pond alone, including healthy populations of great crested newt, palmate newt and smooth newt. The results also confirmed the presence of efts (juvenile newts), meaning that all life stages of newt from egg to adult were in the vicinity, and after leaving bottle traps overnight, 12 newts of mixed species were captured.

An Arbtech ecologist holding a newt

A Massive Thank You to the University of Southampton

Speaking about the event, Arbtech consultant ecologist Harley Stone said:

“Thank you to everyone for your efforts in organising our visit over the past two days to conduct surveys and for the opportunity to offer career advice to your students.

“The students we were able to meet were an absolute credit to you and it would be fantastic to continue to collaborate with the university and careers team in the future.

“If there is anything Arbtech can do to assist with any future endeavours, please let us know and we would be happy to help.”

Following an immensely enjoyable and beneficial time at Highfield Campus, we would like to say a huge thank you to everyone at the University of Southampton for making it possible, with a special mention to Siobhan Balfour, Amanda Boorer, Simon Kemp, Sarah Puckett, Adam Tewkesbury, Ian Williams and the security team.