The Jersey toad (Bufo spinosus, known locally as the Crapaud) has an iconic status and was once a familiar sight in island ponds and waterways. Recently numbers have declined and so, since 2005, conservationists have been using information from Jersey residents to create an island-wide picture of the toad’s distribution, abundance and breeding patterns.
Thanks to local support we currently have over 300 records in our database with every parish represented to some degree. This shows us that toads have been declining in natural ponds for some time and that a majority of breeding populations are in private garden ponds. Our concern is that garden ponds only support small breeding populations of spawning females raising the possibly that Jersey’s toad population may not be viable long-term. Also, a majority of these garden sites are also found in the west or south of the island.
How You Can Help
If you have a pond and/or toads in your garden please help us by completing a TOADWATCH online form. All information submitted to us is treated as confidential.
Jersey Toadwatch maintains a comprehensive database of toad breeding and general activity patterns. All of this information is taken directly from the reports we receive from islanders. Keeping us informed of what happens each year is therefore very important, as it allows us to keep an eye on what is happening to toads across the island. In particular, detecting changes in patterns and numbers allows the identification of any areas of concern. A continuing inflow of information also advances ongoing research into the biology and conservation of our much-loved toad.
Toadwatch was initiated to encourage local people to monitor and report the activity in their gardens and ponds. This information allows us to draw an accurate picture of the annual population status of this threatened species.
The Jersey (Bufo spinosus) is a species that split from the usual “common” toad (Bufo bufo) some nine million years ago. Following the rising of the Pyrenees mountains, the species evolved in Iberia and afterwards spread south into North Africa and north through Western France as far as Jersey – but nowhere else in the British Isles. Jersey toads share more of their genetic history with toads from Algeria and Spain than they do with English toads. B. spinosus (referred to as the western European toad) grows bigger than B. bufo and has evolved to take advantage of smaller ponds that dry out over summer in warmer, often open habitats (as are found in Iberia, for example).
B. bufo prefers large, deep permanent lakes and woodland areas. So when toads arrived in prehistoric Jersey and encountered dune slacks and maritime heaths, they would probably have been perfectly at home. Only recently have larger water bodies such as reservoirs become a feature of the Jersey landscape.
In 2005 Jersey residents were asked to take part in Toadwatch as part of a PhD research project funded by the Jersey Ecology Fund. People were asked to report sightings of toads in order to generate information regarding the species’ conservation in the island. The Toadwatch campaign then became a joint initiative between the Jersey Amphibian & Reptile Group (JARG) and the Department of the Environment (States of Jersey) and Durrell.