Protect habitats for amphibians
Overall effectiveness category Unknown effectiveness (limited evidence)
Number of studies: 2
Background information and definitions
The effectiveness of protecting areas for amphibian populations is rarely assessed. For example, since 2005, Conservation International and the Amphibian Specialist Group have partnered in the creation of 14 new protected areas in Africa, Asia and Latin America. These cover 22,000 ha and support 55 Threatened or endemic amphibian species (Moore 2011). However, the effectiveness of these protected areas has not been monitored.
A modelling study of the distribution of endemic Mexican amphibians found that 65% of species may have less than 20% of their range protected and 20% are not protected by governmental Protected Areas (Ochoa-Ochoa et al. 2009). Private and community conservation areas were also found to play a role in protecting endemic Mexican species, with 73% of species represented within those areas (Ochoa-Ochoa et al. 2009). Another modelling study reported that the range of 50% of threatened amphibian species in Australia was not considered to be adequately covered by the protected area system (Watson et al. 2010).
Moore R. (2011) Protecting the Smaller Majority Amphibian Conservation Case Studies. Conservation International and the IUCN/SSC Amphibian Specialist Group.
Ochoa-Ochoa L., Urbina-Cardona J.N., Vázquez L.-B., Flores-Villela O. & Bezaury-Creel J. (2009) The effects of governmental protected areas and social initiatives for land protection on the conservation of Mexican amphibians. PLoS One, 4, e6878.
Watson J.E.M., Evans M.C., Carwardine J., Fuller R.A., Joseph L.N., Segan D.B., Taylor M.F.J., Fensham R.J. & Possingham H.P. (2011) The capacity of Australia's protected-area system to represent threatened species. Conservation Biology, 25, 324–332.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated, site comparison study in 1970–1989 of natterjack toads Bufo calamita in the UK (Banks, Beebee & Cooke 1994) found that populations at sites with a statutory level of habitat protection were better protected than those outside protected areas. Populations within Sites of Special Scientific Interest or National nature Reserves were better protected from damaging activities (before 1980: 40%; 1989: 100% of threats defended) than those outside (0–29%). Protection for natterjacks in the wider countryside did not improve following Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 (1970–1979: 0–20%; 1980–1989: 0–29%). Populations that were not ‘protected’ were either lost, damaged or had a planning decision made against their conservation interest. ‘Damaging activities’ included direct development such as caravan parks or intensification of agriculture. Surveys of known and new populations were undertaken annually.Study and other actions tested
A before-and-after study in 1986–1999 of a pond within a housing development in Cambridgeshire, UK (Cooke 2000) found that pond protection during development did not prevent a significant decrease in common toads Bufo bufo, but resulted in an increase in common frogs Rana temporaria during the following ten years. Toad day counts decreased from 145–262 in 1990–1991 to 63 in 1999. Night counts showed a similar trend (240–434 to 59). However, numbers of frog egg masses increased significantly from 12 in 1990 to 96 in 1999. Development was undertaken in 1988–1989 and part of the largest of three breeding ponds was protected. The pond section was 375 m2, with a terrestrial margin of 5 m. Each spring, day and night pond counts were undertaken.Study and other actions tested