About / CV

Robert Aquilina

MSc, MCIEEM(rtd)

Key Skills

Environmental Knowledge

Holder of Natural England licences for protected species: sand lizard, smooth snake, great crested newt (including trapping and handling allowing swabbing for chytrid), white-clawed crayfish, Medicinal leech (Hirudo medicinalis), Fairy shrimp (Chirocephalus diaphanus) and Tadpole Shrimp (Triops cancriformis).

Holder of CCW licence for Great crested newt and White-clawed crayfish.

Identification skills and survey/census techniques for botanical and entomological surveys (PSYM, RIVPACS). Species level identification of freshwater macroinvertebrates. Statistical analysis of results, calculation of standard diversity and impact indices (BMWP, WHPT, PSYM, LIFE, PSI, RICT).


Designed and delivered training courses on Freshwater macroinvertebrate id (Freshwater Habitats Trust, IEEM and NERC at University of Oxford), pond creation and management (Flora Locale) and in-house courses on Great Crested Newt surveying and Dragonfly id.


Accredited River Habitat Surveyor (EA). Marine taxonomy and habitat survey course undertaken at Bournemouth University – an accredited course for intertidal survey, May 2010.

Electro-fishing certificate of competence

Holder of First Aid at Work certificate

MSc Environmental Quality (with distinction)

The course covered the methods and techniques for assessing and managing environmental quality whether for conservation or development. Particular attention was paid to local heathland and freshwaters. The course was jointly run with Bournemouth University and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (Winfrith).

My dissertation was on habitat quality in Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems and used a range of industry standard measures (RIVPACS, PSYM, BMWP) to measure and compare environmental quality of artificial and natural ponds.  Multiple regression techniques were used to compare invertebrate and macrophyte scores across the sampled environments with the result that the artificial ponds were found to be as rich as the natural ponds.

IT Skills

15 years experience of Microsoft Office products and general PC skills. MSc covered GIS using Mapinfo. Experience of statistical packages such as CANOCO, SPSS, Statistica and Minitab.

Taxonomic Experience

I have 16 years experience of identifying aquatic invertebrates; higher plants (esp. aquatic); reptiles and amphibians; field signs for most protected species (mammals, Barn owl etc).

I have attended aquatic macrophytes identification courses for River Surveyors (Richard Lansdown) and the EA (Nigel Holmes), and FBA identification courses on Chironomids.

Teaching aquatic invertebrate identification on the NERC funded Freshwater Ecology course at University of Oxford (2014 and 2015)

Work Experience

March 2007 – present day

Full-time self-employed consultant carrying out protected species surveys, freshwater biodiversity assessments and macroinvertebrate species identification, pond design and management.

Recently, I have been carrying out specialist species surveys for Medicinal Leech and One-grooved Diving Beetle (Bidessus unistriatus) surveys for the Forestry Commission in the New Forest and involved in major lake restoration projects at Fonthill Bishop and Longleat.

Co-author of Outline Management Plan for Hatchet Pond report to Natural England.

Past projects include the status of Fairy shrimp in Dorset and the New Forest, effects of solar panels on aquatic insects, macroinvertebrate surveys of river restoration projects in Richmond Park, River Wandle in SE London (South East Rivers Trust) and on the Dorset Winterbornes (Dorset Wildlife Trust and EA).

I am experienced in the National Pond Survey technique (plants and invertebrates) through working at Pond Conservation (now the Freshwater Habitats Trust) and have carried out surveys for them as part of the Important Pond Areas project in Wales.

I now work as an Associate of the Freshwater Habitats Trust undertaking teaching and survey work across the south of England

March 2007 – April 2012
Dorset Ecological Consultancy, Brooklands Farm, Forston, Dorchester, DT2 7AA

Part time ecological consultant working on protected species surveys and translocations (including Smooth snake and Adder), habitat and species assessments for planning applications and management plans, BREAAM assessments.

Examples of major projects:

  • Purbeck Important Ponds Project surveying macroinvertebrates to species level in 41 ponds;
  • Reptile survey and subsequent Ecological Clerk of Works at Holton Heath;
  • Biodiversity Mitigation Plans for variety of smaller development projects across Dorset.

September 2004 – March 2007
Pond Conservation (now the Freshwater Habitats Trust)

Freshwater ecologist working for Pond Conservation at Oxford Brookes University. Still recommended as an Associate on their website and undertake contracts for them.

Examples of specific projects:

  • Evaluate the food potential of agricultural ditches to farmland birds using emergence traps (Defra-funded, joint project with RSPB in Leicestershire). Involved developing emergence traps and a sampling protocol, the identification of Diptera and aquatic insects to family level, counting and developing biomass estimates, evaluating emergence patterns against environmental factors using regression and factor analysis. Preliminary results presented at the West Midlands and North-west England Freshwater Group meeting (5 April 2006). Article on Stratiomyidae published in Bulletin of the Dipterists Forum. Poster for AAB conference on Arable Diversity.
  • Presenting training courses on PSYM survey methodology (Aug 2005 and 2006) and on Pond Creation and Conservation (July 2006). Presenting a freshwater ecology field trip for Oxford Brookes University Biology undergraduate course (Sept 2005 and 2006).
  • Providing ecological assessment and management recommendations for ponds surveyed as part of the Oxfordshire parish pond survey (May 2005 and June 2006).
  • Surveying, sorting and identifying invertebrates for a variety of projects including headwater streams in Midlands (March 2005 -April 2006), Windrush Valley (Oxon) gravel pits (Sept-Jan 2005), and the Montgomery Canal (Oct 2004).

Membership and Affiliations

  • AIDGAP identification key testing panel for the Field Studies Council
  • Full Member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management
  • Member of British Ecological Society
  • Member of Freshwater Biological Association

Specialist interests and voluntary work

  • Freshwater Recorder for Dorset

  • Founder of Freshwater Recording Group

  • Aquatic Coleoptera – member of the Balfour-Browne Club

  • Dorset Amphibian and Reptile Network pond surveys (NARRS volunteer)

  • Butterfly transect walks on Sopley Common (includes Dragonflies)

  • Founder member of Dorset Dragonfly Group and Dorset Flora Group

Robert Aquilina

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