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The natterjack toad: a climate change winner?

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 16:41 UK time, Wednesday, 19 January 2011

After last week’s conservation paradox about how feeding birds in the mating season could actually be detrimental to them, here comes another seemingly perverse wildlife story. The natterjack toad, one of the most endangered of our amphibian species, could be a climate change winner.

A 30 year study of the toads, conducted at Woolmer Forest, one of the key natterjack sites in the south of England, has found that warmer Mays have a positive effect on the species’ numbers. So if summer temperatures continue to rise as predicted, the poor natterjack will see its fortunes reversed.

Of course, there’s nothing unique about the fact climate change will bring good news for certain species. We’ve long known that fortunes will improve for, amongst other species, bee eaters, greater horseshoe bats, cattle egrets, muntjac deer and some migrant butterflies. And then there’s all that olive oil and wine we can make…

The striking thing about this list, however, is only the horseshoe is native to this country. So if we can add another – the natterjack – that can only be good news. Another bonus: just like the natterjack, the greater horseshoe bat is highly endangered in the UK.

So amongst all the doom and gloom – climate change, amphibian numbers across the world, frog numbers in the UK – there are little pockets of light.

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