Offspring from the breeding project returns to their native areas

17.06.2019 This year, spawn for the breeding of fire-bellied toads has been collected at sites within the biosphere reserve ‘River Elbe Valley Lower Saxony ‘. Ten percent of the collected animals are being returned to the ponds, from which the spawn had been taken.

At Easter they had been collected and at Pentecost they returned. That is how you could summarise the time sequence of the fire-bellied toad breeding program for this year. The fire-bellied toad ‘Bombina bombina’ has become extinct in vast parts of Lower Saxony. Populations only remain at the biosphere reserve River Elbe Valley Lower Saxony. The NABU project ‘LIFE Floodplain Amphibians’ delivers the networking and management of three amphibian species in the river landscapes of the rivers Aller and Elbe in Lower Saxony. The project is in partnership with the administration for the large-scale protection area. The NABU project thereby makes a significant contribution to the preservation of biodiversity.

The fire-bellied toad has lost the largest part of its original distribution area in Lower Saxony over the last decades. The aim of the project is to restore this distribution area. “To achieve this, suitable habitats are being restored”, explains Dr Richter. This year, eggs for the breeding of the fire-bellied toad have been collected from two parts of the ‘River Elbe Valley Lower Saxony’ area, from the parish of Neuhaus and from the marshland around the village of Gartow. Ten percent of the collected animals are being returned to the ponds, where they had been taken from. “The survival rate in the field is on average under ten percent, so this procedure strengthens rather than weakens the population”, explains Dr Richter.

Spawn from only two ponds has been removed from the Parish of Neuhaus this year. One of the two ponds had fallen dry at the point of returning the young frogs, meaning a reproduction of the natural population would not have happened. Spawn from four ponds was removed from the marshland around Gartow. Due to thundery rainfall and a slightly raised water level of the River Elbe, the situation was better here. Whether the tadpoles have survived the drought in the remaining small puddles on site is doubtful, though. The reproduction of at least a part of the population could be secured. Due to low water levels, it is clearly visible that the young toads are enjoying themselves.

Photo: Ute Thiergärtner, young fire-bellied toads