The British Herpetological Society

The Herpetological Journal is the Society's prestigious quarterly scientific journal. Articles are listed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences,Current Contents, Science Citation Index, and Zoological Record.

 ISSN 0268-0130

2020 Impact Factor for the Herpetological Journal is 0.862

pdf 05. Relating spawn counts to the dynamics of British natterjack toad (Bufo calamita) populations


Open Access

pp. 25-30
Authors: Beebee, Trevor J.C. & Buckley, John

Abstract: Counting cumulative numbers of spawn strings deposited by female natterjack toads Bufo calamita is widely used in Britain as a surrogate estimator of trends in population size. We analysed long-term data from 20 of the best recorded British natterjack populations to assess the relationship between spawn count and population dynamics. Spawn count, toadlet production and numbers of ponds producing toadlets were all correlated. However, high spawn deposition was more likely the cause of high toadlet production than a converse mechanism in which high toadlet production might subsequently increase adult population size. Good toadlet years did not generally correlate with spawn deposition three years later, the expected delay for cohort maturation. Conversely, new ponds could trigger large increases in spawn deposition within a year of their construction. This situation presumably arose because only a fraction of the available adult females usually breed in any one year. We conclude that although spawn string counts and actual female population size were not demonstrably synonymous, spawn counts probably do reflect relative sizes between populations and temporal trends within them except when numbers of productive ponds also change significantly over short timescales. Individual ponds can remain productive of toadlets for at least 25 years provided the habitat is managed appropriately.


Download Access:

The latest 8 issues can be downloaded when logged in with a Herpetological Journal subscription membership.

Individual articles can be purchased for download.

Older issues and occasional Open Access articles are available for public download


For further information and submission guidelines please see our Journal Instructions to Authors

pdfBHS Ethics Policy


Please note that as from Volume 31 Number 1 (January 2021) on, the Herpetological Journal will be available as an online publication only - the last print edition will be Volume 30 Number 4.   

Aligning with this change, it is now no longer possible to purchase a subscription that includes a print copy of the HJ.  All members who have existing HJ print subscriptions that remain active as at end June 2020 will receive the full four 2020 print editions.  New subscribers or renewals after this time will only have option to subscribe to the online only subscription package.  Subscription pricing has been amended to reflect the content changes.