Froglife run several research projects, largely based on three main areas:
Evidence based conservation
- This area of research is in relation to biodiversity improvements through our practical habitat work, especially pond creation and restoration. It includes impacts on a wide group of organisms such as aquatic plants, aquatic invertebrates and of course, amphibians and reptiles. A large component of this work is based at Hampton Nature Reserve where we delivered our Second Life for Ponds project. The results of this project (see links below) informed our latest large scale pond restoration project funded by Natural England through CES for Bearded Stonewort (Chara canescens), now in its fourth year. We are also investigating the application of new and more robust methods for large scale surveys of amphibian species.
Road mitigation projects for amphibians and reptiles
- Froglife has managed the national Toads on Roads project for many years and in 2016 published research findings indicating a 63 % decline in populations of the common toad across the UK over the past 30 years. The full research paper can be found at: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0161943. This important piece of research will enable Froglife to take further positive action to help conserve this species.
Froglife have developed an automated monitoring system for monitoring amphibian and reptile movement through under-road wildlife tunnels. These projects have been funded by Natural England, with support from the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and Esmée Fairbairn. This research has expanded in recent years and we currently have four monitoring sites across the UK, with a further six tunnels at a site in Scotland proposed for 2018. In addition we are working with partners abroad with tunnel monitoring currently in Switzerland, Portugal and France with the potential for work in Sweden and Spain. This research is revealing important aspects of amphibian and reptile ecology which will be useful for understanding the effectiveness of road mitigation measures and how to improve habitat connectivity for UK and European species.
Amphibians diseases in the UK
- Froglife has been involved in citizen science projects and research relating to amphibian diseases since the 1980s. This area of work has grown as the conversation community has become increasingly concerned about the threats faced, particularly by frogs, due to disease. Our work has included involvement in research into ranaviruses including several projects with the Institute of Zoology (IOZ) in London and the University of Exeter. We work with members of the public finding dead or diseased frogs in their gardens, offering advice and linking them in to wider research into disease. We are partners in the new Garden Wildlife Health project with the IOZ, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
- As part of our broader international strategy, Froglife is collaborating with the University of Glasgow’s Trinidad Expedition in 2015 to help raise funds for work to survey the critically endangered golden tree frog (Phytotriades auratus). This species is found only on two Trinidad mountain tops, is very difficult to observe and the 2015 surveys will be using the new and exciting method of eDNA. Since previous survey methods for this frog damage its specialised bromeliad tank habitat looking for the frogs, we hope that eDNA will provide a satisfactory and non-harmful method with which populations of this very rare species can be identified and protected. Samples of water from bromeliads will be tested using in the search of traces of DNA left by the golden tree frogs.
For the first time Froglife in collaboration with students at Glasgow University ran a crowd funding appeal to help fund this work, a total of £2063 was raised. You can find out more information about the project and the work here Golden Tree Frog.