Great crested newt eDNA detection service

Great crested newt (Triturus cristatus).
Great crested newt (Triturus cristatus). Image source: Tiberiu Sahlean via Getty Images

Due the ongoing Corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic we are unable to provide any newt detection tests until further notice.

However, if you would like to discuss the possibility of future work please contact: 

Dr Paul Parsons:

or Dr Katy Maher:


The season for detecting newt DNA from pond water is from mid-April until the end of June.

We provide a service for screening pond water samples for Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus) DNA.

For full information, details of our charges and provision of water sampling kits please contact:
Dr Paul Parsons:

The Great Crested Newt is a protected species and are therefore the focus of surveys for their presence.

We offer both a standard and fast-track detection service:

Standard service = results returned within ten working days

Fast-track service = results returned within four working days

We have provided this service since 2015 and have screened hundreds of samples. We were one of only four labs in the UK to achieve 100% in the proficiency tests carried out in both 2017 and 2018. We successfully identified all samples correctly as positive or negative for Great Crested Newt DNA in a ‘blind’ test. These proficiency tests have recently become a requirement of Natural England, and are organised by FAPAS (proficiency testing from Fera Science Ltd. UK).


1. Pond water sampling kits are posted out to users, 
2. Water samples are collected from ponds,  
3. Water samples are posted back to the University of Sheffield, 
4. Samples are analysed in the lab using qPCR and a species-specific probe,  
5. Data is analysed and positive and negative controls checked,  
6. A report of the results is prepared,
7. Samples are recorded as positive or negative for Great Crested Newt.

Quality Controls

All work is done in accordance with the standards and protocols described in DEFRA Technical Advice Note WC1067. The analysis is carried out following the methodology outlined in Biggs et al. 2014. 

We include positive and negative controls: the positive is from a pond known to contain Great Crested Newts and from the negative is from a pond known to be free from them. We have demonstrated that the sensitivity of Great Crested Newt detection achieved in our laboratory matches that in Biggs et al. (2014). The limit of quantification was 3 * 10-3 ng/μL.

Additionally we include our own method that allows the sample integrity to be assessed and this is an additional check in our laboratory that ensures that the data is reliable.


Biggs J, Ewald N, Valentini A, Gaboriaud C, Griffiths RA, Foster J, Wilkinson J, Arnett A, Williams P and Dunn F (2014) Analytical and methodological development for improved surveillance of the Great Crested Newt. Appendix 5. Technical advice note for field and laboratory sampling of great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) environmental DNA. Freshwater Habitats Trust, Oxford.

DEFRA PROJECT WC1067 - Technical advice note for field and laboratory sampling of Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus) environmental DNA.