Mapping the Relative Probability of Common Toad Occurrence in Terrestrial Lowland Farm Habitat in the United Kingdom.
Salazar RD., Montgomery RA., Thresher SE., Macdonald DW.
INTRODUCTION: The common toad (Bufo bufo) is of increasing conservation concern in the United Kingdom (UK) due to dramatic population declines occurring in the past century. Many of these population declines coincided with reductions in both terrestrial and aquatic habitat availability and quality and have been primarily attributed to the effect of agricultural land conversion (of natural and semi-natural habitats to arable and pasture fields) and pond drainage. However, there is little evidence available to link habitat availability with common toad population declines, especially when examined at a broad landscape scale. Assessing such patterns of population declines at the landscape scale, for instance, require an understanding of how this species uses terrestrial habitat. METHODS: We intensively studied the terrestrial resource selection of a large population of common toads in Oxfordshire, England, UK. Adult common toads were fitted with passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags to allow detection in the terrestrial environment using a portable PIT antenna once toads left the pond and before going into hibernation (April/May-October 2012 and 2013). We developed a population-level resource selection function (RSF) to assess the relative probability of toad occurrence in the terrestrial environment by collecting location data for 90 recaptured toads. RESULTS: The predicted relative probability of toad occurrence for this population was greatest in wooded habitat near to water bodies; relative probability of occurrence declined dramatically > 50 m from these habitats. Toads also tended to select habitat near to their breeding pond and toad occurrence was negatively related to urban environments.