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Phenology and amphibian conservation

In this master thesis we investigate a possible connection between plant phenology and the start of amphibian migration in spring. The aim of the study is to find out whether there is a connection between individual phenological phases of selected plant species in spring (e.g. first flowering, leaf development) and the occurrence of amphibian migrations.

For this purpose a collaboration of four Austrian citizen science projects of four institutions was started. Data on amphibian migrations are provided by Naturbeobachtung.at (Naturschutzbund Österreich), herpetofauna.at (Herpetologische Gesellschaft und Naturhistorisches Museum Wien) and project Roadkill, data on phenology by the Naturkalender (ZAMG). These data will be intersected in order to identify possible correlations.

The findings from this work are not only interesting for science, as a possible connection would allow an increase in planning security for nature conservation organisations which erect and maintain temporary amphibian fences along roads. The idea for practitioners would be that as an amphibian fence coordinator one would observe a certain phenological phase of a plant in spring and thus know that one still has e.g. two weeks time to install amphibian fences before the amphibian migration begins. This would be important because amphibian migrations start depending on climatic conditions and therefore do not start every year at the same time.