For a water vole population to be secure and be able to expand, the animals have to be able to move along watercourses and between water bodies such as ponds. In winter they form larger groups below ground and then move out to find breeding territories in spring, often travelling several kilometres in the process. This movement promotes a healthy exchange of genes within the population.
Conservation work involves increasing the amount of good quality and inter-connected habitat in and and around areas where water voles are known to occur. To know where to concentrate one’s efforts, it is necessary to carry out surveys of water vole distribution and habitat quality.