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Jersey toad unique in British Isles

09 October 2014

​Collaboration between conservationists from Jersey and the UK, and scientists in the Netherlands and Portugal, has revealed that Jersey’s iconic toads are a distinct new species, different from toads found in England.

The new British species is revealed in a paper published published by the British Herpetological Society and presented by scientist/conservationist Dr John Wilkinson at the annual Inter-Island Environment Meeting, held at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.

Future survival

Jersey is the only Channel Island to have toads. As a new species, unique in Jersey within the British Isles, they will need tailored conservation to ensure their future survival. Most toad breeding populations in Jersey appear to be in the west or south of the Islands, in mall, privately-owned garden sites which often support only small numbers of single numbers of spawning females.

The Department of the Environment has been working to protect the Island’s toads for a number of years. Ongoing conservation measures include supporting and advising people who want to install a garden pond, improving where toads live and connecting different breeding sites so toad populations continue to thrive.


Jersey’s toad populations are monitored through Jersey Toadwatch, a project jointly run by the Department of the Environment and Durrell. The information is added to breeding records collected since 2005. This data gives conservationists a clearer picture on trends to inform future action.

Dr Wilkinson carried out his PhD research on Jersey toads and now works as Science Programme Manager for UK charity Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. He said “We always suspected there was something special about the toads of Jersey. They grow larger, breed earlier and use different habitats than English toads. Now we know they are a new species, we can ensure efforts for their conservation are directed to their specific needs.”

Positive action

The Department of the Environment’s Principal Ecologist, John Pinel, added “Conservation of biodiversity in Jersey has always had a high priority; this news will help ensure that toads continue to receive the positive action they deserve.”

The news is further evidence of Jersey’s biological distinctiveness, especially concerning amphibians. The agile frog Rana Dalmatina, is also unique to Jersey in a UK context, and has been the subject of successful conservation management in recent years.

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