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Boscombe, United Kingdom

Beebee T.J.C.,Amphibian and Reptile Conservation
Journal of Herpetology | Year: 2014

Agricultural intensification, starting during the Second World War, precipitated declines in all seven native species of amphibians in Britain. Problems in the United Kingdom (U.K.) therefore predated recognition of global amphibian declines and were due to relatively simple causes, notably habitat modification and destruction. Pesticides, acid rain, ultraviolet radiation, climate change, and disease have thus far proved relatively minor issues. Amphibian conservation started in the 1970s, initially with status surveys, but by the 1980s research into habitat requirements and proactive management was underway, particularly for the rare Bufo calamita (Natterjack Toad). The relatively widespread Triturus cristatus (Great Crested Newt) was given the same legal protection as B. calamita in 1981 due largely to declines elsewhere in Europe. This protection has become problematic for conservationists on account of the many sites with this newt that regularly come under threat from development. Additional difficulties identified in the 1990s included serious impacts of road mortality on Bufo bufo (Common Toad) and inbreeding in urban populations of this species and of Rana temporaria (Common Frog). A previously unrecognized rare native, the "northern clade" of Pelophylax (formerly Rana) lessonae (Northern Pool Frog) became extinct in the early 1990s but was reintroduced in the 2000s. In the past 4 decades conservation efforts have stabilized, although not increased, the U.K B. calamita population, but some of the widespread species are still declining, albeit at a slower rate than in the postwar period. Effective methods for amphibian conservation are now available and the outstanding question is whether there will be sufficient funding to make greater gains in future. Copyright 2014 Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles.

Beebee T.J.C.,Amphibian and Reptile Conservation
Journal of Zoology | Year: 2011

Severe recent declines of amphibians around the world have highlighted the need to identify factors that affect their population dynamics and viability. This study used a long-term (>30years) dataset collected for a British population of natterjack toads Bufo calamita, a rare and endangered species in much of northern Europe. Modelling was employed to test a series of hypotheses concerning the effects of anthropogenic (conservation management) and climatic factors on toad demographics. The best models accounted for >72% of the variance in population size, as judged by spawn string counts, between 1975 and 2007. Conservation management (pond creation) was important, as were spring and summer climate variables relating to larval survival, and winter conditions associated with hibernation mortality. The implications of trends associated with future climate change are also considered. © 2011 The Authors. Journal of Zoology © 2011 The Zoological Society of London.

Beebee T.J.C.,Amphibian and Reptile Conservation
Conservation Biology | Year: 2013

Road mortality is a widely recognized but rarely quantified threat to the viability of amphibian populations. The global extent of the problem is substantial and factors affecting the number of animals killed on highways include life-history traits and landscape features. Secondary effects include genetic isolation due to roads acting as barriers to migration. Long-term effects of roads on population dynamics are often severe and mitigation methods include volunteer rescues and under-road tunnels. Despite the development of methods that reduce road kill in specific locations, especially under-road tunnels and culverts, there is scant evidence that such measures will protect populations over the long term. There also seems little likelihood that funding will be forthcoming to ameliorate the problem at the scale necessary to prevent further population declines. © 2013 Society for Conservation Biology.

Smith R.K.,University of Cambridge | Dicks L.V.,University of Cambridge | Mitchell R.,Amphibian and Reptile Conservation | Sutherland W.J.,University of Cambridge
Conservation Evidence | Year: 2014

This editorial highlights the deficit of studies that directly compare different conservation interventions for the same threat. Most studies test a single intervention (86% in Conservation Evidence), comparing it against a control that lacks the intervention. Such studies can provide evidence that a particular intervention is effective, but do not inform a practitioner whether that intervention is the best option relative to others. Comparing results from different studies is difficult, as outcomes depend on factors such as the site, species and method of measurement. We suggest that a key step to understanding the effectiveness of conservation interventions is to compare different interventions in the same context within studies. If widely adopted this could transform global conservation practice. We provide some guidance on how to design and conduct comparative studies.

Beebee T.,Amphibian and Reptile Conservation | Beebee T.,University of Sussex
Herpetological Bulletin | Year: 2012

Common toads Bufo bufo have declined over much of southern and eastern England in recent decades where other widespread amphibian species have remained relatively stable. One such toad decline, at Offham marshes in Sussex, was investigated over the fifteen year period 1998-2012 immediately subsequent to a tenfold decrease in population size between 1989 and 1997. Syntopic amphibians (Rana temporaria, Lissotriton vulgaris and L. helveticus) probably also declined at this site. The surviving toad population continued to recruit new cohorts and had an apparently healthy age structure. Habitat quality (aquatic and terrestrial) remained good and there was no evidence of disease. An invasive species (Pelophylax ridibundus) was excluded as a likely cause of toad decline. However, traffic on a neighbouring road rendered more than half the previously available terrestrial habitat for toads essentially unreachable. Furthermore, reduced management of vegetation in ditches where the toads breed apparently increased mortality of developing tadpoles. Future prospects for conserving and increasing the toad population are discussed.

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