Postgrad focus: Joe Reynolds’ PhD on amphibian conservation

We’re pleased to bring you this blog post from one of our PhD students. If you’re interested in postgraduate study in Biosciences, check out the links on the Research section of our website (click here)

Hi all. My name is Joe Reynolds and I’m coming to the end of my first year of my PhD in the Biosciences research team.

Joe Reynolds

Joe Reynolds

Previously, I have undertaken fieldwork on a number of projects in Romania and completed my BSc in Conservation Biology at the University of Plymouth. Although still new to research, it seems that my current research interests are drifting towards investigating the global amphibian decline and amphibian conservation as a whole.

Joe carrying out fieldwork on lizards in Romania

Joe carrying out fieldwork on lizards in Romania

Here, I am exploring the relationships between amphibians and the agricultural environment. One interest in particular of my project is investigating the effectiveness of Entry-Level stewardship (ELS) (an agri-environment scheme looking to protect the UK’s wildlife within agricultural landscapes) with regards to conserving Britain’s native amphibian species. To complete this objective, fieldwork across the county of Gloucestershire at a number of farms and estates is being undertaken including a variety of techniques. Numerous amphibian fieldwork techniques (egg-mass counts; dip-net sweeps; trapping; torching; terrestrial searching), water quality analyses, phase-1 habitat surveys, hedgerow surveys and aquatic and terrestrial vegetation surveys are being completed to try and understand how ELS and amphibians interact. Analyses of the ELS management techniques used by landowners and farmers will also be investigated in an attempt to relate any positive correlation between increased amphibian abundance/diversity and specific management techniques. This set of techniques as a whole will allow for the establishment of spatial patterns of amphibians in a focal study area in Gloucestershire and the ability to relate these patterns to landscape features, especially agricultural practice and Entry-Level Stewardship (ELS).

A Really Big Toad

A Really Big Toad – or is that a frog?

Alongside this fieldwork, I’ll use a geographic-information systems (GIS) to explore how habitat fragmentation affects Gloucestershire’s amphibian population, using my data in conjunction with previously collected data from other studies and the local biological records keeping office. Friction mapping considers the costs migration of amphibians through landscapes of varying suitability, which combined with population density mapping will explore the potential effect of habitat fragmentation on amphibian populations and communities within Gloucestershire.

Joe Reynolds
PhD student, Biosciences

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