This book describes the history of amphibian conservation and research in Britain. It is packed with unique insights from the author who, in the late 1960s, was Britain's first professional amphibian conservationist. At that time, the situation for amphibians was extremely serious after three decades of population decline. Up to the 1990s, Cooke was directly involved in understanding and trying to remedy the situation via research, legislation and active conservation. He initiated long-term monitoring, surveillance and studies that have continued well into this century. This research developed and utilised simple monitoring techniques, such as counting breeding newts at night or toads dead on roads. The resulting datasets also proved of value in determining whether breeding behaviour was affected by climate change.
This overview charts in detail how amphibian conservation developed from a relatively low knowledge base with few individuals involved to an abundance of information available for the many groups of people now active in the field. It includes published, unpublished and no longer readily accessible material, to emphasise how contemporary knowledge, attitudes and resources affected what was done and what happened as a result. Various policies, strategies, laws and other initiatives have helped stop or slow declines, but the future is still uncertain.
Tadpole Hunter will appeal to a broad readership, from naturalists to professional herpetologists. Furthermore, this story will have relevance for amphibian conservation in other countries in light of their more recent widespread declines. It is also of interest to those wanting to know more about the development of wildlife conservation in Britain.
Arnold Cooke worked for the national nature conservation agencies as a researcher and adviser on a range of topics for 30 years. After studying amphibian population declines with the Nature Conservancy, he was herpetological adviser for the Nature Conservancy Council. In the late 1990s, he left English Nature to pursue his interests in amphibians, birds and deer. He has published widely on subjects as diverse as the status of Britain’s amphibians and reptiles, pollutants in birds and the environmental impacts of introduced species of deer. His book Muntjac and Water Deer was published by Pelagic in 2019.