2017 marks the Year of the Toad here at Froglife!
A recent study by Froglife and our partners from The University of Zurich in Switzerland has shown that on average common toads have declined by 68% over the last 30 years in the UK. In some areas, such as the south east of England, declines have been even more pronounced. These declines have been mirrored in Switzerland. The full paper was published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE (http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0161943).
The data for this study was collected from thousands of Froglife’s volunteers in the UK, who brave the British weather each year, on Toads on Roads patrols, saving amphibians as they migrate to their breeding ponds across busy roads. Toad species are particularly vulnerable to Road deaths, as their defence mechanism isn’t to run or hop away like frogs, it is to stay still and flatten their bodies to make themselves look bigger. They rely on a pair of glands that secrete a toxin to deter any predators (which isn’t too useful for avoiding cars unfortunately!).
It is not clear what has caused numbers of toads to drop so dramatically but likely causes are a combination of changes to farming practices, loss of ponds, an increase in urbanisation and more deaths on roads as traffic values have increased. Climate change could also be a factor as research has shown that milder winters are detrimental for hibernating toads.
Due to this decline, and to celebrate how awesome toads are, we’ve decided to dedicate a whole year to help them. We kick started this campaign with a Toad Art Competition, where we invited our supporters to get creative and submit drawings of toads to us. We had some wonderful pictures sent in to us, and these will feature in our upcoming toad colouring book!
Here are a few of their lovely submissions and some tips on how you can help too:
- Telling others about the issue i.e. talking to friends and family and sharing posts on social media using #YearoftheToad