LFA für Feldherpetologie und Ichthyofaunistik

LIFE AMPHIKULT 350 Ponds for Lower Saxony

Welcome to the website of the LIFEproject AMPFHIKULT which is being carried out by Lower Saxony's Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU). We provide information on the project's background, the measures to be taken as well as news updates.

European tree frog at the Rottbach Brook

September 2011


Is the European tree frog returning?

Foto: Frank Körner


The European tree frog used to be common and widespread in Lower Saxony. It could be frequently observed - particularly in late summer and early autumn; this is the time when the frogs enjoy the warming sun rays on the leaves of shrubs and trees. Especially on blackberry-picking excursions, one could encounter the little green frogs just about everywhere.


Today, however, the European tree frog has disappeared from numerous areas and is ranked on the Red List of endangered species. It used to be widespread also in the lowlands of the Rottbach brook to the south of the Nienburg District near the border to North Rhine-Westphalia. Blackberry hedges can still be found here; spawning grounds for successful reproduction of the frogs, however, are missing. LIFE-AMPHIKULT aims at finding a solution for this situation. Currently, plans are underway for the new water bodies. Weather permitting, excavators will pull in this winter. ”Whether the European tree frog will accept the new ponds depends on various factors”, according to Dr. Markus Richter, project manager of LIFE-AMPHIKULT. “It is vitally important that there are close-by European tree frogs that are able to overcome the distance between old spawning grounds and new water bodies.”


To deal with this question, the project was assisted by Gunnar Mügge from Sulingen, who volunteered in the field mapping of the amphibians. He spent countless nights looking out for European tree frogs in the districts of Diepholz, Nienburg and Minden-Lübbecke. Thanks to their loud mating calls, the males are relatively easy to spot at the spawning grounds. The positive result of this nightly quest was the locating of calling males at three sites near the Rottbach brook. Even though only individual males could be heard and the populated water bodies are hardly suitable for a successful reproduction, the species has evidently not yet totally disappeared from the area. This augurs well for the return of the European tree frog to the Rottbach brook.

LIFE AMPHIKULT im Fernsehen (no translation available at the moment)

August 2011
                                                                                                                      Foto: Thomas Brandt

Einen Film über Teiche und seine Bewohner sendet der NDR auf N3 am Dienstag,

dem 9. August 2011 von 18:15 bis 18:45 Uhr in der Reihe NaturNah. Vom Ende des Winters, als gerade das erste Leben in den Teichen erwachte, bis in den Hochsommer verfolgte Autorin Stefanie Milost von der AZ Media TV mit ihrem Team das Leben in den Teichen. Mit dabei auch Dr. Markus Richter, Projektmanager beim NABU- Niedersachsen für das Projekt LIFE AMPHIKULT. Neben faszinierenden Aufnahmen unter und über Wasser bietet der Beitrag auch viele Informationen zur Gefährdung und Schutz der Amphibien.

Wiederholungen des Films werden am Mittwoch, dem 10.08.2011 um 2:15 Uhr und um 13:00 Uhr gesendet.

Saving the European tree frog in the Artland?

Current population survey documents urgent need for action

4th of july 2011

Foto: Frank Körner

The Artland in the northern district of Osnabrück used to be one of the strongholds of the European tree frog in Lower Saxony. The complex landscape with its various structures that combines many small water bodies and hedges offers an ideal habitat for this amphibian species. As recently as 1994, calling tree frogs were documented in over 30 water bodies - altogether several hundred animals lived there at the time. The population decline that can be observed in all of Central Europe has, however, not spared the Artland either. At a field mapping conducted by NABU Osnabrück in 2003/2004, a considerable decline was observed. The dramatic extent of the situation is documented in the results of a current population survey. Birgit Hesselkamp, a graduate engineer for landscape development, volunteered to field map amphibians and spent many hours this spring in the Artland in search of calling tree frogs. She was assisted by Michael Weinert of the regional nature conservation work group in the Artland (Regionalen Arbeitsgruppe für Naturschutz im Artland e.V. (RANA)). Apart from calling males, water bodies were also scanned for tadpoles. The latter provide important information on the reproductive success at a particular body of water. The tree frog will be able to survive only when adequate numbers of offspring are regularly produced. Fears for the frog population were only confirmed by the results of the population survey. Calling tree frogs were spotted at only four water bodies and only one of these showed evidence of offspring. Altogether, only 20 to 30 animals were calling. It is to be feared that the European tree frog will have disappeared from the Artland in a few years.

However, salvation is in sight. One of the objectives of NABU Niedersachsen's LIFE AMPHIKULT project is to create new spawning grounds for amphibians in the Artland. Dr. Markus Richter, project manager of AMPHIKULT, is confident that the European tree frog can be saved: ”Numerous bodies of water that are ideally suitable as spawning grounds have been created by the RANA Association, our on-site project partner. However, the European tree frog has not yet been able to benefit from this. As the current survey shows, the distance between the populations to these ponds is too great for the tree frog to overcome. AMPHIKULT is now attempting to decrease the distance between the frogs and the ponds.” Richter is particularly grateful for the tireless efforts of Birgit Hesselkamp. ”Her voluntary field mapping of the population provides an excellent base for a detailed planning of AMPHIKULT measures.”

Dr. Markus Richter und Birgit Hesselkamp

Kingdom of the Water Dragons

26th of June 2011


Popular excursion

“They really do look like little dragons!” a participant of the excursion spontaneously exclaimed while spotting a crested newt larva.


Sixteen people had accepted an invitation by NABU Niedersachsen and the Naturschutzring Dümmer to join an excursion to the “Kingdom of the Water Dragon”. Dr. Markus Richter, project manager of NABU Niedersachsen's LIFE AMPHIKULT project and Ulrike Marxmeier, staff member of the Naturschutzring Dümmer, provided the participants with insights into the mostly hidden life of frogs and newts. The tadpoles of the pool frog and the European tree frog, as well as the larvae of common and crested newt, could be observed at close range at an expanse near the Thielmannshorst which was designed by the Lake Dümmer Nature Park authority. The newt larvae's outer gills, together with the fringe of skin on its tail and back, are responsible for their dragon-like appearance and were of particular interest. While these features degenerate before the shore leave of the larvae, participants were nevertheless able to witness three grown specimens of the crested newt that exhibited an impressive body length of 18 cm. A report on NABU Niedersachsen's amphibian protection project "LIFE AMPHIKULT" completed the extensive information provided on the amphibians' way of life.

The first AMPHIKULT frogs!

30 May 2011

Young European tree frog leaves AMPHIKULT spawning ground

Sooner than expected, the first amphibians have appeared at the newly constructed ponds.

As one of the objectives of the AMPHIKULT project, three new water bodies were created in the Marler Fladder project area in the Diepholz district last autumn. The settlement of amphibians at the ponds had not been expected for this year. Indeed, the water bodies are still absolutely bare; vegetation in the water and along the banks will develop only gradually. Hence, project manager Dr. Markus Richter’s astonishment to discover dozens of small European tree frogs at the banks of two of the water bodies last weekend was all the greater. Moreover, several hundred common toad tadpoles could also be seen swimming in one of the ponds. Both species usually populate bigger and deeper bodies of water exhibiting vegetation under water and along the banks - their spawning into new ponds bare of vegetation is rather exceptional. While the European tree frog and the common toad are not among the project's target species, their settlement in the project area can nonetheless be regarded as a success. The population of the European tree frog, in particular, had decreased substantially in the Marler Fladder as well as in numerous other areas. Although this frog can be found at many sites, extensive spawning grounds with several hundred clusters of eggs have all but disappeared. The main reason for this decline is the advancing loss of acceptable spawning grounds. New water bodies are thus well accepted.

tree frog
Scoop with newly transformed European tree frog.