LIFE-AMPHIKULT's scope is to be expanded as the programme is also extended.
Photo: The European green toad (Bufo viridis) is the rarest amphibian species of Lower Saxony (Photo M. Richter)
The conservation of native amphibian species is a key objective for Lower Saxony's NABU. NABU will now also direct its attention to the conservation of the rarest amphibian species in Lower Saxony, namely the European green toad. The broadening of the scope of the LIFE-AMPHIKULT project, which was recently approved by the EU commission, makes this possible. To meet the project's objectives, since the beginning of 2010 numerous new spawning grounds for endangered amphibian species have been either created or restored within 15 project areas in central Lower Saxony. Five more areas in the south east of the state have now been added to the list. The local districts of Helmstedt and Wolfenbüttel, as well as the city of Salzgitter, are the only areas with established populations of the European green toad.
The population numbers of the European green toad have severely declined in recent decades and their range of distribution has scaled down considerably. A current survey of calling males at all currently established spawning grounds was able to identify only a few dozen animals. Their occurrences are also widely scattered across an area of approx. 40 by 15 km, thus preventing a genetic exchange between the populations in most cases.
The main cause for the decline of the European green toad is the loss of suitable habitats. Their preferred spawning grounds, namely shallow, sunny ponds with scarce shoreline vegetation, have been lost due to backfilling and drainage in particular. Furthermore, the spread of shading woody plants on the shore and at their terrestrial habitats reinforces the decline of the species. Thus, the reestablishment of suitable habitats by creating new spawning grounds, as well as keeping open their existing terrestrial habitats, is the most pressing measure. The broadening of LIFE-AMPHIKULT's scope will now entail the provision of necessary financial means. There are plans for the new creation or restoration of at least fifty spawning grounds; approval for most of the measures has already been granted by the land owners.
"Time is running out for the European green toad," according to project manager Markus Richter. "Therefore, we are particularly glad to be able to use the purposefully targeted LIFE-AMPHIKULT resources to support the rarest amphibian species of Lower Saxony. In order to implement the additional measures, the project term was extended for another year.
Further information on the European green toad and the new project areas.
Photo: European green toad primarily uses open ground areas for their terrestrial habitat. These are, however, commonly threatened by scrub encroachment (Photo: M. Richter)