The Group, formerly known as The Agile Frog Group, originally formed in 1993, it was then was renamed to Jersey Amphibian & Reptile Group, JARG, in 2007. The aims of JARG are to:
- Raise awareness of our 3 Amphibian Species and 4 Reptile Species. - Collect and collate herpetofauna records, sharing these with www.recordpool.org.uk & www.jerseybiodiversitycentre.org.je - Encourage the general public to report their herpetofauna sightings. - Conserve the native amphibians and reptiles through study and direct action. - Provide general advice on our amphibian and reptile species as well as their habitat management.
The Amphibian and Reptile Species found on Jersey are:
- The Jersey Toad aka Crapaud (Bufo spinosus) - Agile Frog (Rana dalmatina) - Palmate Newt (Lissotriton helveticus)
All 3 Amphibians and 4 Reptiles are protected under the Conservation of Wildlife (Jersey) Law 2000.
Amphibians and reptiles suffer from a poor public image – feared by some people and simply misunderstood by many others. It is important to encourage public appreciation and awareness of amphibians and reptiles by providing the opportunity for people to become involved in wildlife recording and conservation.
Many people have never seen a lizard or a snake and would not know where to see one; yet with simple guidance, the experience could be brought to many people, whilst overcoming the negative perceptions that often hamper conservation efforts.
2010 has been a bumper year for agile frog spawn. A record breaking 125 clumps of spawn were recorded at sites at Ouaisne and Noirmont this spring, which is great news.
The frogs had a drier start to the year than 2009, but never the less after distribution of spawning branches in early February, 9 frogs were spotted within their proximity. The first frog spawn clumps appeared on Feb 15th and tens more were recorded in the following weeks. 18 clumps were found in the main pond area at Ouaisne. This is fantastic as no clumps have been found in this area since back in the 1990’s. Spawn was also found in a previously uninhabited slack. These finds suggest a healthy recovery of the agile frog population may be in progress. A steady upwards trend began in the years just after 2000 and in the last 3 years the number of clumps has been doubling annually!
The newt population also seems to be increasing, with many more spotted than in previous years. However, it cannot be certified that this increase is in relation to increasing frog numbers.
Unfortunately, the long dry spell of early summer caused many of the slacks used by the frogs to shrink in size, and some to dry out completely. In a normal year only around 2.3% of tadpoles survive to the froglet stage, and the dry spell will mean the journey to adulthood will be even more hazardous this year. Time will tell whether the high numbers of spawn recorded this spring will be enough to offset this additional challenge faced by the tadpoles. The tadpoles take 2-4 months to metamorphose, depending on water temperature and so should emerge in late summer.
In a Grouville pond in 2009, a clump of common frog spawn was found. This species is not native to the Island. Thankfully, this incident was spotted and reported by a observant member of the public and the spawn was subsequently removed. It is thanks to vigilance such as this that our local amphibians remain relatively safe from threats from invaders.
Licence now Required to Import Amphibians
Posted on Tuesday 25th January, 2011
As of February 2010, a licence is required to import amphibians into Jersey. This means that the Environment Department can now control which amphibians are entering the Island. Amphibians are the latest group to be added to the schedule of animals, such as foxes, grey squirrels and reptiles which require a licence.
One problem with bringing non-native amphibians into the Island is that there is a risk they may be carrying diseases. There is a risk that the natural amphibians of Jersey, such as the agile frog, could contract these foreign infections and their survival rate could potentially be reduced. A prominent worry is that the fatal fungal disease chytridomycosis will be introduced. The Island is currently free from the disease which is sweeping many other parts of the world, including the UK. The Diseases of Animals (Importation of Miscellaneous Goods) (Jersey) Order 1958, with its new reach to amphibians means that it will become easier to monitor the importation of all amphibians. There will obviously be particular interest in keeping out ‘chytrid’ fungus as well as other harmful diseases.
Foreign species can not only bring disease, but if released into the wild, intentionally or otherwise, can interfere with the survival of natives. This might be by competing with them for already limited habitat resources, for example.
In addition to controlling amphibians entering the Island, it is therefore of utmost importance that amphibian pets are not released into the wild. If these pets can no longer be cared for, the JSPCA Animal Shelter should be called, rather than anything being released. Please be vigilant, and if you spot any creatures which you suspect might be alien, please get in touch with the Environment Department.