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)
- Grass Snake (Natrix helvetica)
- Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis)
- Green Lizard (Lacerta bilineata)
- Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis)
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.
The Department of the Environment commissioned the Amphibian and Reptile Trust to analyse and prepare a report on 10 years of citizen science data collected under the Toadwatch survey.
Jersey residents were asked to take part in Toadwatch by reporting sightings of toads using ponds. Data has now been collected over 10 years (2005 - 2014).
The analysis has created an up to date toad distribution map for Jersey. It has highlighted features of the Jersey landscape that are most important for toads and suggested areas to create new breeding ponds.
A breakdown of the types of ponds used for toad breeding overwhelmingly supports the suggestion that man-made habitats are critical for the species'' survival in the island. Ensuring these habitats are maintained and connected across the island is considered to be a critical task to conserve our toads into the future
Please find a link to this recently published report on the analysis of the data collected by Toadwatch volunteers since 2005.
Currently we are carrying out a PhD on the “Status and conservation of grass snakes Natrix natrix and slow-worms Anguis fragilis in Jersey, C.I.” Records of grass snakes in Jersey are limited with a patchy distribution. Its status is unclear, with little information available on its ecology and population size in Jersey, there is much to be discovered. The grass snake is undoubtedly the rarest of Jersey’s reptiles. Determining the status of the species will provide insight into the need for intervention and species recovery. One of many research objectives are to investigate and model their movements, home range size, and habitat use therefore the ‘Think grass snake campaign’ needs your help.
We require the support of keen volunteers to work alongside our PHD student to carry out this radio-tracking and monitoring. We are looking for people who are able to commit full regular days of independent radio tracking to up to 3 months starting ASAP. This could be 1 day a week or 5?
Volunteer activities will be focused around intensively tracking and, if necessary, searching for grass snakes and recording basic behavioral data in the field. Training will be given in radio-tracking, habitat assessment and understanding grass snake behavior. Volunteers will also be responsible for entering some of the data collected into the field database.
Applicants will need to:
§ Have a background in biological sciences
§ Be happy to work outdoors and have some previous herpetology experience
§ Have flexibility, commitment and determination to work, under sometimes uncomfortable or frustrating conditions, combined with good physical fitness
§ Provide careful attention to data recording
§ Be able to commit minimum of 1 day per week for 3 months
§ Be resident in Jersey
§ Have transport within Jersey
This is the ideal opportunity for someone looking for practical conservation experience working with reptiles. If you wish to apply, please contact Rob ward email@example.com or telephone 07829968303
A scientist leading a campaign to save Jersey’s only native snake is asking people to take some simple measures to help the Island’s dwindling grass snake population lay their eggs safely.
Doctoral student Rob Ward of the University of Kent is working with the Department of the Environment on the ‘Think Grass Snake’ campaign, carrying out research on ways to save Jersey’s non-venomous and harmless grass snake.
The grass snake, Jersey’s rarest reptile, relies on warm humid environments, such as those found in compost and manure heaps, to lay and incubate its eggs, so protecting these nesting habitats is an important step in preventing extinction.
June and early July are one of the most important times of the year for the grass snake; the females will have mated in the spring, and are now searching for vital egg-laying sites.
Rob, who’s been tracking grass snakes since the start of spring on various sites in the Island, is encouraging people to keep an eye out for grass snakes that may be using their compost and manure heaps for nest sites, and to report sightings all year round. He is also asking for the piles not to be disturbed until October if possible, to allow the young snakes to hatch after a two month incubation period.
He said: ‘This is one of the most important times of year for grass snakes, as the next generation's chance of survival depends on finding the best conditions. As humans have modified landscapes and habitat over centuries, grass snakes have come to be largely dependent on man-made piles of rotting vegetation, such as compost and manure heaps, to provide the perfect incubation chamber for their eggs.’
Rob continued, ‘Any information from the public, no matter how small or insignificant, is extremely valuable and will make a real contribution to the protection of Jersey’s grass snakes. It all helps build a clearer picture of where they’re living and nesting and how to protect them, and will contribute towards a study which aims to stop the decline of these native reptiles.’
Sightings can be reported through the campaign website www.ThinkGrassSnake.je which has a quick, online survey for submitting sightings. The site provides facts and resources about amphibian and reptiles, and how to encourage them. There is also a dedicated telephone line 441628 (a ‘spotline’) for people to call if they see a grass snake or slow worm.
The scientist leading Jersey’s Think Grass Snake campaign is calling on Islanders to report any reptile sightings over the next few weeks.
As the days get shorter and the temperature falls, Jersey’s reptiles will soon be searching for places to hibernate over the winter and may not appear again until March or April.
University of Kent researcher Rob Ward, whose work will be instrumental in the future conservation of Jersey’s grass snakes and slow worms, is asking people to send in any reports of grass snakes and slow-worm sightings this month (October) and to keep an eye out in spring for a number of reptiles turning up in the same spot.
The information will build a picture of where our rarest reptiles choose to hibernate. The loss of these sites can have a large effect on local reptile populations.
Mr Ward said: “The more information we have about potential hibernation sites, the more we can do to protect these magnificent but elusive creatures. By recording where reptiles are spotted, we can work out where hibernation may be occurring as sightings start to tail off. Similarly in spring, the first sightings can alert us to the emergence of reptiles from hibernation.”
If you think you may have spotted any going into hibernation, please get in touch with the Think Grass Snake Campaign by calling 0044 1534 441628, or visiting www.ThinkGrassSnake.Je/about
How to tell a possible hibernation spot
Collaboration between conservationists from Jersey and the UK, and scientists in the Netherlands and Portugal, has revealed that Jersey’s iconic toads are a distinct new species, different from toads found in England.
The new British species is revealed in a paper published in the October edition of The Herpetological Journal, published by the British Herpetological Society. The data will be presented by scientist/conservationist Dr John Wilkinson at this week’s Inter-Island Environment Meeting, at Durrell (Jersey Zoo) over the next two days (9-10 October).
Jersey is the only Channel Island to have toads. As a new species, unique in Jersey within the British Isles, they will need tailored conservation to ensure their future survival.
Most toad breeding populations in Jersey appear to be in small, privately-owned garden sites which often support only small (and possibly in the long-term non-viable) breeding populations of single numbers of spawning females. Many of these garden sites are in the west or south of the Island.
The Department of the Environment has been working to protect the Island’s toads for a number of years. Ongoing conservation measures include supporting and advising people who want to install a garden pond, improving where toads live and connecting different breeding sites so toad populations continue to thrive.
Jersey’s toad populations are monitored through Jersey Toadwatch, a project jointly run by the Department of the Environment and Durrell. The information is added to breeding records collected since 2005. This data gives conservationists a clearer picture on trends to inform future action.
Dr Wilkinson carried out his PhD research on Jersey toads and now works as Science Programme Manager for UK charity Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. He said “We always suspected there was something special about the toads of Jersey. They grow larger, breed earlier and use different habitats than English toads. Now we know they are a new species, we can ensure efforts for their conservation are directed to their specific needs.”
The Department of the Environment’s Principal Ecologist, John Pinel, added: “Conservation of biodiversity in Jersey has always had a high priority; this news will help ensure that toads continue to receive the positive action they deserve.”
The news is further evidence of Jersey’s biological distinctiveness, especially concerning amphibians. The agile frog Rana Dalmatina, is also unique to Jersey in a UK context, and has been the subject of successful conservation management in recent years.
The University of Oxford is running a course in Field Techniques for Surveying Fish and Amphibians due to commence on 22nd March 2013
The course is taught on-line across 5 weeks led by Dr Jon Shrives of the States of Jersey Environment Department with contributions from herpetologist Dr Steve Green from Operation Wallacea. Please visit our website below for full details:
The course is designed with professionals and volunteers working in ecology and conservation in mind, offering a flexible approach to learning so students can study outside of office hours and from further afield in the UK or internationally.
Topics covered include survey planning and protocols, egg estimating and counting, and netting and trapping techniques.
Field Techniques for Surveying Fish and Amphibians is taught at postgraduate level and can be taken with or without academic accreditation which can be used towards future study, such as the University of Oxford Postgraduate Certificate in Ecological Survey Techniques.
To find out more about the Course Director Dr Jocelyne Hughes please use the link below:
If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org or 01865 286952
How habitat loss threatens local wildlife is the focus of a seminar in Jersey later this month.
The Jersey Amphibian and Reptile Group (JARG) and the Department of the Environment jointly organise the day of talks, workshops and training on local amphibians and reptiles.
Each year the conference focuses on a different species or issues. This year, it’s how to protect the areas that reptiles and amphibians in Jersey need to thrive. Talks include one by National Trust for Jersey Countryside Ranger Sally Dalman called: ‘Relocation, relocation, relocation – how I become a lizard stalker for the summer’.
Many scientists consider loss of suitable habitat to be the largest single factor contributing to the drop in amphibian numbers. This can be caused by development, pollution incidents, invasive plants and animals, and more extreme weather.
States of Jersey Research Ecologist Nina Cornish said, “Habitat conservation for wild species is one of the most important tools for protecting and enhancing our natural environment. As land use increases, our frogs, toads, snakes and lizards have less space to call home which has an impact on numbers.”
She added, “However, we’ve seen how initiatives like the agile frog species recovery programme can make a real difference. Habitat management of the ponds at Ouaisné and Noirmont, where we’ve removed gorse, scrub and willow, has helped significantly. In 1997, there were just six frog spawn clumps in the ponds. Last year we counted 50 – proof that effective habitat conservation can contribute to saving a species on the brink of extinction.”
In the afternoon, the focus will be on Jersey’s National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme (www.narrs.org.uk), a partnership project which has been running in Jersey six years, led by the UK’s Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Group.
The event is open to anyone interested in learning more about amphibians and reptiles and who want to get involved in wildlife recording and conservation.
The seminar and training day is being held at the Frances Le Sueur Centre, St Ouen, on Saturday 14 February 9.30am to 3.30 pm.
If you would like to attend, please reserve a place by contacting Julia Meldrum on 441665 or by email email@example.com
Interested in Jersey’s wildlife and how you can make a difference?
Wild About Jersey takes place at Acorn Enterprises, Trinity on 11th and 12th February 2017 and is organised by the Department of the Environment’s Natural Environment team. It aims to bring people and organisations together to learn about protecting and conserving Jersey’s plant and animal life.
Upcoming events will be listed here.