Secretary - Katy Perry
On behalf of the BBCARG, I hope that you are all well and getting on okay after this year; it has been a strange one for the group - and probably for many of the groups you interact with – as we have not been able to get out and about doing surveying, habitat management or running and attending events. That said, we are hopeful that next year we will be able to do more and already have a few things in the pipeline to work on and invite you to.
This spring, we did not send out requests for membership renewal as we expected that we would not be able to run events as usual. Something we have been working on since then is our very own ARGWEB platform, which will allow us to manage our members and help you manage your membership with us via a log-in portal. Once we have this set-up and working we will be emailing everyone and posting on here with more information, and if you would like to renew or start a membership with us you will be able to do so then.
Member or not, I hope you enjoy our newsletter put together by the committee. Please note that from next year, only our paying members will be receiving our newsletters and will have better access to events, training and updates from us - so if you would like to stay in the loop make sure to join again when we send out the details. Stay safe, and we hope to see you soon.
View our November 2020 Newsletter here.
This time of year everyone gets quite excited about the near arrival of our beloved frogs and toads as they move to ponds and start breeding. Many toad patrols are active and well, helping common toads move safely to their breeding ponds.
If you have ponds and wetlands near you, or some amphibians have taken up refuge somewhere nearby - it is very useful to be able to understand what it is that you've found so that you can then report your findings to us! The more information we have about our frogs and toads, the better we can act to protect and preserve them.
As a result, we've put together some guidance to help you figure out whether you have fabulous frogs or tremendous toads in your local area. The two species are quite distinct when you know what you're looking for, so hopefully this will help.
So what are frogs and toads?
If you do find frogs, toads or spawn near you - make sure you report it via the RecordPool portal on our website - find it under the 'Record A Sighting' tab.
Note - We 100% encourage people to get out an about looking for our wonderful amphibians, but care is needed. Make sure you're aware of how to keep them safe from harm, make sure you're up to date on amphibian disease. We do not recommend that anyone handle any animals unless it is absolutely necessary.
After our 'Evening of Herpetology' event, we held our Annual General Meeting (AGM).
During this we reviewed our year, what progress we had made, the successes we had achieved, and we also discussed what we have planned for the upcoming year.
We also elected our new committee, which is as follows:
Chair - Amber Hopgood
Secretary - Katy Perry
Treasurer - Hannah Lewis
Records Officer - Charlene Jones
Website and Social Media Officer - Amber Hopgood
Training and Events Officer - Paul Wilkinson
Newsletter Editor - Tasha Cain
Black Country Project Officer - Piotr Koryl
Birmingham Project Officer - Charlene Jones
Records Assistant/Committee member - Shannon McCallion
Our Valentine's day 'frogs, sex and rock 'n' roll' Evening of Herpetology event was a huge success! In case you missed it... we had a series of three talks by local ARG members on a variety of herpetology topics!
First of all we had Ben Wood from the Warwickshire Amphibian and Reptile Team (WART) talking about the work the group is currently doing using amphibian drain ladders designed by Trevor Rose.
In and around Warwickshire (and most other urban areas) there is a large problem with amphibians getting trapped in roadside drains and not being able to make their way out again without help. As a result WART has been liaising with local councils, transport agencies and water companies to try and help these animals as best as practically possible and provide drain ladders.
These ladders act as a relatively simple way of ensuring that any amphibians that find themselves in a drain have a chance of escaping, which is particularly important when there is limited volunteer-power and restrictions on how quickly (and widely) people can volunteer their time to check drains.
The group is now monitoring how effective these drain ladders are, and are looking to expand the area in which they are running this project.
Second we had Dr Stuart Graham from the Shropshire and Staffordshire Amphibian and Reptile Group (SASARG) talk about Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) and their impacts on UK wildlife.
Stuart has done a lot of work investigating INNS, with there being at least 21 non-native species present in the UK, and explained what species are involved and how they are distributed across the country.
He talked about the fact that there are positives and negatives associated with INNS, and although the detrimental effects and risks of disease, hybridisation and even predation are concerning, the presence of Invasive Non-Native Species not only provides us - as Herpetologists - with extensive research and monitoring opportunities, it may also have a positive effect on the adaptive capabilities of our native species.
That said, the main thing that Stuart highlighted was that we do not yet know enough about the species present in the UK and the effects they may have on our native flora and fauna - and so much more research and monitoring is needed.
We ended the evening with a talk from our very own Records Manager - Amber Hopgood - and her work on native reptile micro-habitat preferences.
For her undergraduate dissertation Amber set out to try and fill the knowledge gap surrounding microhabitat and whether native species (adders Vipera berus, grass snakes Natrix helvetica, common lizards Zootoca vivipara, and slow worms Anguis fragilis) showed any preference for certain microhabitat features.
Amber talked about the reptile surveys she conducted throughout the field season and detailed the habitat assessment method she designed for her study. She also presented her findings so far and discussed how the different species occupied different microhabitat types - in regards to the habitat structure and the thermal properties of the area.
She highlighted that this is an under-researched but important area of species conservation and hopes to inform future habitat management with her findings.
We would like to extend a massive 'thank you!' to our speakers and to everyone that came along and supported the group for this event, hopefully we will see you all again at one of our next events!