Amphibians. Sensitive to their environment, needing suitable open water and land around it, amphibian populations have declined and are lost to some places.
Five of Britain's seven native amphibian species are found in Barnsley: Great Crested Newt and Common Toad, both national priority species because of the severity of their decline, and Common Frog, Smooth Newt and Palmate Newt.
Amphibians lay their eggs in water and their larvae (tadpoles) develop there. Outside the breeding season adults and juveniles spend much of their time on land, foraging, sheltering, and hibernating.
Common Frog (Rana temporaria) is the most widespread and common amphibian and tends to be associated with fish-free, shallow-edged pools for breeding.
Common Toad (Bufo bufo). Because toads are more selective than frogs and possibly more 'site faithful' they are more at risk from pond loss; destruction of a toad breeding site can eliminate the species over a relatively large area. They are also more sensitive than frogs to changes in habitat.
Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus) has had a massive massive historic decline. There are signs of recent improvements but they remain vulnerable. Good populations are found in Barnsley in at least eight different sites.
Smooth Newt (Lissotriton vulgaris). Although the most widespread newt species, Smooth Newt is thought to have declined in numbers. Good populations found in suitable habitats across Barnsley.
Palmate Newt (Lissotriton helveticus) as only been recorded in Barnsley in the Wharncliffe Wood area.
Local Priority Species include the national priority species:
Common Toad Bufo bufo
Great Crested Newt Triturus cristatus.
These are local priority species due to their national status and because there are sites in Barnsley with good populations and these deserve conservation management.
Sites with good assemblages of amphibian species, including Common Frog and other newts, are also a local priority.
In our region 67% of ponds surveyed included Common Frog, whereas this dropped to 48% Common Toad, 39% Smooth Newt, 26% Palmate Newt, and only 12% Great Crested Newt.
Great Crested Newt is protected under part of Section 9(1) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) against intentional killing, injuring and taking from the wild.
This legal protection does not apply for the other species of amphibian.
Amphibians are however protected under Section 9(5) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) against selling, offering or exposing for sale, or having in possession or transporting for purpose of sale.
There are also general controls relating to animal welfare.
As Section 41 species Great Crested Newt and Common Toad need to be taken into consideration by any public body in managing their estate.
Reasons for decline and loss of amphibian populations
As well as open water for breeding and their early development as tadpoles, amphibians need adequate areas of foraging habitats with sufficiently large populations of invertebrate prey species, damp areas for resting as well as shelter and suitable places for hibernation.
Good Practice Habitat management for amphibians
The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust provides comprehensive information on amphibians: arc-trust.org/
The National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme provides general information as well as surveys: narrs.org.uk
Froglife, a conservation charity for amphibians provide advice and information: froglife.org/
What has been done
Amphibians benefit from wetland creation schemes and from the creation and restoration of farm ponds under stewardship and other schemes.
Surveys have identified a few new breeding ponds and other water bodies including parts of Barnsley canal.
Work has taken place to maintain Keepers Pond at Stainborough Park in positive management.
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Sections on amphibian priority species: