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 03. Summer and winter refugia of natterjacks (Bufo calamita) and common toads (Bufo bufo) in Britain


Open Access


Authors: Jonathan S. Denton And Trevor J.C. Beebee

Abstract: We have investigated the refugia used by Bufo calamita and Bufo bufo throughout the year on heathland, sand dune and saltmarsh habitats in Britain. On the first two habitats, natterjacks mainly lived at depths of >20 cm in burrows of their own making and these burrows insulated animals very effectively against temperature fluctuations during the summer. In saltmarsh habitats natterjacks used a variety of refugia and at all sites common toads were found in mammalian burrows and under stones, logs and piles of leaf litter. Natterjacks at the saltmarsh site vacated areas following tidal inundation with no evidence of mortality attributable to this event. At the heathland site, male natterjacks adopted two distinct strategies for refugia use during the breeding season: commuters travelled to and from the ponds every night, returning before dawn to their summer burrows, while residents took up temporary abode near the ponds for the duration of the breeding season. On heaths and dunes natterjacks usually used the same burrows for hibernation that were used in the summer months, but buried themselves more deeply. Common toads also used similar sites to those occupied in summer, but often these were selected following an autumn move towards the breeding ponds. At the saltmarsh and other coastal sites in Cumbria, most natterjacks and all common toads hibernated under piles of stones or logs. or in the burrows of small mammals.

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