This year, the Zoological Society of London and Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK (ARG-UK) are repeating their 2008 project to monitor the spread of Chtyid amphibian disease within Britain. This involves collecting skin swabs from a range of amphibians at many sites throughout the country. The swabs are then sent off to be tested for the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, the cause of Chytrid disease which has been responsible for serious declines in the populations of some amphibians in some parts of the world.
As part of the sampling effort, John Sweeney has recently been taking swab samples from Common Toads at Balgray Reservoir (Barrhead). A total of 30 toads were sampled there last night (3rd April), out of an estimated population of at least 200 animals. No photos unfortunately, due to a lack of free hands (these things can wriggle!) but further sampling is planned targetting Palmate and Smooth Newts and photos of this type of operation will appear here very soon.
Other CARG members are planning to obtain swabs this spring, from other sites and species (including the locally rare Great Crested Newt). Watch this space for news.
Emma Downie, CARG Secretary