Agricultural intensification, starting during the Second World War, precipitated declines in all seven native species of amphibians in Britain. Problems in the United Kingdom (U.K.) therefore predated recognition of global amphibian declines and were due to relatively simple causes, notably habitat modification and destruction. Pesticides, acid rain, ultraviolet radiation, climate change, and disease have thus far proved relatively minor issues. Amphibian conservation started in the 1970s, initially with status surveys, but by the 1980s research into habitat requirements and proactive management was underway, particularly for the rare Bufo calamita (Natterjack Toad). The relatively widespread Triturus cristatus (Great Crested Newt) was given the same legal protection as B. calamita in 1981 due largely to declines elsewhere in Europe. This protection has become problematic for conservationists on account of the many sites with this newt that regularly come under threat from development. Additional difficulties identified in the 1990s included serious impacts of road mortality on Bufo bufo (Common Toad) and inbreeding in urban populations of this species and of Rana temporaria (Common Frog). A previously unrecognized rare native, the “northern clade” of Pelophylax (formerly Rana) lessonae (Northern Pool Frog) became extinct in the early 1990s but was reintroduced in the 2000s. In the past 4 decades conservation efforts have stabilized, although not increased, the U.K. B. calamita population, but some of the widespread species are still declining, albeit at a slower rate than in the postwar period. Effective methods for amphibian conservation are now available and the outstanding question is whether there will be sufficient funding to make greater gains in future.

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