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 06. Make the Adder Count: population trends from a citizen science survey of UK adders

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Open Access

https://doi.org/10.33256/hj29.1.5770

pp. 57-70

Authors: Emma Gardner, Angela Julian, Chris Monk & John Baker

Abstract: Concern has been growing about the status of UK adder populations, with expert opinion reporting widespread declines. Assessing the true scale of these declines, however, has been hampered by a lack of quantitative data. Make the Adder Count began in 2005 as a national surveillance programme collecting standardised counts of adders lying-out after emerging from hibernation. 260 sites have contributed data, confirming a significant decline, on average, across sites with small populations, while the few with large populations (<10 % of sites) are weakly increasing. If these trends continue, within 15‒20 years, adders will be restricted to a few large population sites, significantly increasing the extinction risk for this priority species in the UK. Public pressure/disturbance was reported as the most frequent negative factor affecting sites, followed by habitat management and habitat fragmentation. Negative impacts from habitat management were reported almost as frequently as positive impacts, suggesting many management plans do not adequately consider the requirements of adders. The dataset also demonstrated earlier emergence among males, in warmer springs and at more northerly sites.

Key words: adders, population trends, habitat management, conservation, emergence survey, citizen science

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