Toad numbers in Roundhill, Brighton dropped in 2023. Local residents see climate change as the cause.
For the past 3 years, local volunteers have mounted a toad patrol during mating season to monitor numbers. This year they saw a drop to almost half those counted in 2020, the first year of the patrol.
The toads appeared a month late this year, in March. Volunteers put this down to the dry, cold winter. The warmer rains in the second half of March saw toads, frogs and newts making their annual appearance.
The good news is that the number of frogs seen in the lane increased dramatically compared to any other year and the Patrol hopes this means that frog populations are recovering from the effects of ranavirus.
“We have come away from the season with a much greater sense of the extent to which our amphibians are susceptible to weather changes, and how prolonged periods of cold and dry can affect populations,” said Paolo Oprandi, Patrol volunteer. “I’m left with sad thoughts of the devastating effects the droughts in the Mediterranean must be causing.“
Although the toad and newt numbers were lower this year than when the patrol started in 2020, the March showers have allowed for good breeding conditions in the ponds. The rise in frog numbers is exciting too and we are intrigued to find out how they will fare. Will frog numbers continue to jump? Will newts swim to the top? Can toads crawl back?
Most toad patrols are set up to carry toads from one side of a road to another to reduce road casualties. The Roundhill Patrol counts the amphibians passing through, and spreads awareness amongst passers-by to help protect migrating toads, newts and frogs from the perils of using this popular pedestrian shortcut.
How you can help
If there is a lane or road near you where amphibians congregate during February and March consider setting up your own Toad Patrol.
Put a pond in your garden or communal space to help amphibians and many other animals besides.
Keep wild areas in your garden – holes in brickwork, upturned terracotta pots, tree stumps, log and leaf piles all provide ideal safe hiding places.
Wildlife agencies now recommend that we do not move amphibians or their spawn because it has proved to lead to the spread of Ranavirus disease amongst amphibians.