Ponds are an ephemeral feature of the landscape but their large-scale loss can have profound implications for biodiversity and the persistence of amphibian populations. We quantified rates of pond loss throughout Ireland over a period of approximately 125 yr. Environmental parameters and perceived risk factors associated with the current occurrence and density of the Common Frog, Rana temporaria, were also analyzed. The numbers of farmland ponds declined by 54% between 1887–1913 and 2005–11, with most ponds and the greatest losses in the East, coincident with agricultural intensification and human habitation. The decline of pond numbers was significant but, at approximately 0.5% per annum, was substantially less than losses recorded in other European countries. Losses were coincident with major changes to the agricultural landscape including extensive land drainage. However, losses of pond and natural wetland habitats throughout Ireland may have been partially or wholly mitigated by a synchronous expansion of artificial field margin ditches associated with drainage projects during the mid-20th Century. The ecology of the Common Frog in Ireland was similar to its ecology elsewhere and it appears largely unaffected by pollution and disturbance. Consequently, the conservation status of the frog in Ireland was judged “favorable” and should remain so for the foreseeable future.

You do not currently have access to this content.