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 04.Habitat use by smooth snakes on lowland heath managed using ‘conservation grazing’

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Open Access

pp. 225-231

Authors: Christopher J. Reading & Gabriela M. Jofré

Abstract: Heathland in the UK, and parts of mainland Europe, is being managed increasingly by landowners and statutory conservation bodies e.g., Natural England, using cattle grazing which is often referred to as ‘conservation grazing’ in an attempt to justify its use in the absence of any detailed prior research into its actual benefits for wildlife species whose individual habitat requirements are likely to vary. Over four years, between 2010 and 2013, cattle were excluded from six hectares of lowland heath that had been subject to annual summer cattle grazing between May 1997 and autumn 2009 and in which reptile numbers had been monitored annually since 1997. Changes in smooth snake (Coronella austriaca) numbers were recorded annually in the ungrazed area and in a four hectare area of heathland adjacent to it that continued to be grazed. The number of individual smooth snakes, and the total number of smooth snake captures, were significantly higher in the ungrazed heath than the grazed heath and were associated with increased habitat structure, resulting principally from tall heathers and grasses. The results of the study suggest that the use of cattle grazing as a management tool on lowland heath is detrimental to smooth snake populations and that their recovery, following the cessation of grazing, may take many years.

Keywords: Agrostis curtisii, Calluna vulgaris, cattle grazing, Coronella austriaca, habitat degradation, habitat structure, Molinia caerulea, Ulex minor

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IMPORTANT NOTE - JUNE 2020

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.