Nos complace anunciar que, a partir de la próxima edición del boletín AArk, estaremos ofreciendo nuestro boletín de noticias tanto en inglés como en español.

Si desea suscribirse a la versión en español del boletín, por favor haga clic en el botón de abajo e inscríbase al boletín de español.

Estamos seguros de que nuestros lectores españoles apreciarán esta nueva iniciativa. Nos gustaría transmitir un agradecimiento enorme para Silvia Flores, quien ha ofrecido generosamente a traducir los boletínes para nosotros cada trimestre.

You could summarize this with a John Lennon lyric: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” From the Leicester Mercury:



A dad’s plans to transform his garden for his young son have been put on hold – after 35 newts were found living in his pond.

Wildlife experts say they have to be sure none of the amphibians are of the rarest variety before they can allow any work to go ahead.

Mohammed Sheikh, 36, wants to fill in the small pond at his home in Uppingham Road, in Leicester, to make it a safer area but he has been asked to wait until September – when the newt breeding season ends.

By then, wildlife experts will have had time to make sure there are no protected great crested newts living in the garden. The problem came to light when Mr Sheikh’s friend, a landscape gardener, spotted the creatures when he was asked to redesign the plot.

He warned Mr Sheikh that there could be great crested newts living in the pond and asked him to call in the experts.

He said: “I didn’t think anything of it until I read in the Leicester Mercury that the Earl Shilton bypass may have to be delayed after that variety of newts was found.

“I bought the house in October and at the moment I’m doing a renovation of the property.

“I have a four-year-old son and I wanted to fill in the pond and make it a nice area for him to play in.”

He contacted Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust and a conservation officer did a survey which found 35 smooth newts.

Mr Sheikh said: “We have had neighbours who say they have seen great crested newts in their gardens so there is a possibility that they are in the area.”

Neill Talbot, a senior conservation officer with Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, said it was unusual to find so many newts in a small garden pond. He said: “It took about half-an-hour to identify all the animals as the common variety, but I will do another survey in about three weeks.

“It is quite rare for great crested newts to be found in Leicester and it may have been the case that they were passing through.

“If they are found, then they can be relocated, but that requires a licence from Natural England.”

Great crested newts are 15cm long and have wart-like markings across their bodies. They also have a large crest on their heads and a bright orange underbelly. The common or smooth newts are about half the size and, as their name suggests, have a smoother body.

Mr Talbot said: “Mr Sheikh can landscape the garden but we would prefer if he waited until September when the newt breeding season ends. Newts gather in ponds in the spring and summer to breed, then leave.”

In February, the Leicester Mercury revealed the discovery of great crested newts had hindered the progress of the Earl Shilton bypass and could send the cost of the project soaring.

Landmark Environmental Consultants Ltd.
Newt fence photo from JPR Environmental

If you do a search for “fence” and “newt”, you either come across a story about Newt Gingrich and border control, or you learn about the terrific effort in Scotland to put up a fence that protects the great crested newt as it heads to its breeding ponds. The latter story, from the BBC, is here.

There are, arguably, three great questions about the amphibian crisis. The good news is that all are being researched.

  1. How can we slow down, even neutralize, the ravage of species caused by amphibian chytrid fungus? This naturally occurring fungus broke out of Africa 60-or-so years ago on the backs and littled webbed feet of the African Clawed Frog which was being exported as a human pregnancy test. It’s lethal to most species it contacts, resulting in a thinning of frog families to the  point that the few remaining males and females can’t find each other to mate.
  2. What is the cause-and-effect of global warming on this mass extinction? If chytrid is the cryptonite to frogs, are warmer temperatures a steroid shot for chytrid? Or, are amphibians just getting worn out by the heat and, in such a weakened state, more susceptible to all sorts of diseases and enemies?
  3. What happens to ecosystems when amphibians disappear because of #1 and #2? In other words, what is the role of frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, and caecilians in the food web? When you remove them from an acre of rainforest, or a bubbling brook, what happens to the populations of insects, fish, snakes, lizards, birds. What happens to plant life? Answer this, definitively, and just watch the funds for Amphibian Ark and the Amphibian Conservation Action Plan roll in from foundations and companies that care about general conservation and hunting and fishing. 

(The effects of pollution is probably the fourth big question, I know, but so much has already been figured out about that.)

Let me introduce the research team (the only team?) that is studying The Big Three Questions. The team is led by Karen Lips, an associate professor in the Department of Zoology at Southern Illinois University (SIU Carbondale). She charted the path that chytrid has cut through Central America and presented her insights about the fungus at the recently convened chytrid conference in Tempe, Arizona.  Next summer the team resumes studying climate change impacts, and they’ll even safely remove amphibian species from small ecosystems to chronicle what happens to the food web. Here’s her Web page that toplines some of her research

The Amphibian Network of South Asia and Zoo Outreach Organisation (Z.O.O) continue to build awareness in India about the crisis and Amphibian Ark in this nice article on the amphibian crisis …and this one, too.

They’re protecting the Great Crested Newt from a construction project in East Northamptonshire in central England. According to the story, 70 percent of this species is located in the UK.  

Jan. 1, 2008, will begin the Year of the Frog. What makes it The Year of the Frog? It’s an extraordinary declaration by the World Association of Zoos & Aquariums, and other conservation organizations, to get attention for the plight of amphibians.  I’m Jeff Davis and I am helping some amazing scientists tell the story of the 2,000+ species of amphibians that could disappear in our lifetime because of a lot of bad things in the environment.  If I told you that the villains in this case are pollution and loss of habitat, you’d respond, “duh.” But the most immediate threat is a fungus that escaped from the southern part of Africa around the time of World War II.  My blog will help to tell the whole story of how we got to this point, and what is being done to avert the mass extinction of frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, and caecelians.  Believe me, there are lots of you out there who know a lot more about this than I do,  so I welcome your input and criticism. My skin’s a lot thicker than a frog’s.  More soon…