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.

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pdf 08. Frogs in pre-industrial Britain


Open Access

pp. 368-378

Authors: Lee Raye

Abstract: This paper examines the pre-industrial historical record of Britain’s anuran species. The records examined include especially
the writings of naturalists and physicians, most notably Gerald of Wales (1188), John of Gaddesden (c.1314), Edward Wotton
(1552), Timothie Bright (1580), Thomas Brown (1646), Robert Lovell (1660), Christopher Merrett (1667), Robert Sibbald (1684)
and John Morton (1712). The common frog is attested as present throughout the period. Several reliable historical records
are located that describe the presence or absence of a water frog species (Peloyphylax spp.: two records of presence, two of
absence) and the tree frog (Hyla arborea: five records of presence, three of absence). The moor frog (Rana arvalis) and agile
frog (Rana dalmatina) are not described separately – if present in the time period, they may have been considered varieties
of the common frog. The evidence of presence comes exclusively from England. The records taken together confirm the
presence of populations of water frogs between (at least) the fifteenth and eighteenth century, and provide new evidence
attesting to populations of tree frogs between the sixteenth century (when the species may have been introduced) and the
eighteenth century (when the species seems to have become locally extinct/locally distributed).

Keywords: pool frog, tree frog, native status, species history, historical analysis

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