Keep an eye out for amphibians!
It’s the middle of February, the weather has started to become more mild and the rain has become less of an obstacle. It’s at this time of year when amphibians will start to move out from where they’ve been hibernating over the winter months and start to make their way towards their breeding ponds. This tends to take place on warm evenings that are twinned with rain in order to reduce to risk of desiccation and to ensure that metabolic processes can take place (more amphibians are active when evening temperatures are above 5°C). Due to the fact that amphibians are active at night, there are a number of risks which they face which they wouldn’t do so in the day time. One of the most significant is road traffic, newts and toads are quite low to the ground and small in size so motorists can’t always see them. Recently with a colleague we’ve found evidence that urban cycle paths may be having negative effects on local amphibian populations due to mortality events associated with cyclists.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, you can help by helping out with your local toad crossing. If there isn’t one in your local area, then why not look into starting one up? FrogLife can help give you all the advice and guidance you need. If you’ve got amphibians in your pond then why not record them? As I mentioned in a previous post, we can’t monitor declines in widespread species if we’re lacking data. When you first notice amphibians breeding in your pond, you can participate in a nationwide survey called the Big Spawn Count. All of the data collection from these schemes is used to help monitor the breeding and population patterns in our native amphibian species which may help in the future assess how they are dealing with threats such as climate change and habitat loss.
There is lots you can do to help your local amphibian populations at this time of year but it’s important to be aware that they are currently on the move!
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