Monitoring Reptiles and Amphibians with ACOs

Artificial Cover Object - Media Image.jpg
28 March 2024

Have you ever seen one of these strange tiles in our parks? They are Artificial Cover Objects (or ACOs) used by reptiles and amphibians to help regulate their body temperature. The bitumen, tin or carpet tile ACOs attract these animals by retaining heat and providing shelter from predation. They help us determine the presence of certain species and monitor changes and distribution of populations over time.

Our Biodiversity Team carefully chooses and maps ACO locations in certain target parks throughout the city. Our trained and skilled volunteer wildlife surveyors use these to conduct surveys at appropriate times of the year to monitor the health and extent of reptiles and amphibians. The results drive local habitat enhancements while contributing to the national monitoring scheme, providing a broader understanding of status on a large scale.

About Great Crested Newts

In the 2023 season, we surveyed 5 sites, capturing 93 records of 43 reptiles and 50 amphibians! We found at least one target species at each location surveyed. Consistent data collection over the years will help us understand how reptiles and amphibians are doing across Milton Keynes, which is incredibly important with the pressures associated with a changing climate and increasing habitat fragmentation.

For 2024, we strive to create or maintain habitat features like hibernacula and nest piles to allow these animals to thrive in our targeted locations.

If you come across an ACO, please do not disturb it or allow pets to go near it. This can cause potential harm or disruption and ultimately discourage reptiles and amphibians from using them, making it difficult to understand the health of these elusive animals in our city. Thank you for your cooperation and for helping us keep Milton Keynes' parks a safe environment for newts, slow worms and grass snakes!

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