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Posted by W von Papinešu on January 10, 2003 at 07:17:03:
DAILY POST (Llandudno Junction, UK) 09 January 03 Scientists join battle to save island's newts (Eryl Crump)
Scientists at a North Wales university have joined the battle to save an endangered species.
Experts in tropical lizards and snakes at the Bangor University's School of Biological Sciences have turned their attention closer to home to assist Anglesey council in protecting the great crested newt.
The island is one of the Welsh strongholds of this protected species and university biologists will be surveying two known great crested newt breeding sites, one on the outskirts of Holyhead and the other in Benllech.
Great crested newts are often found on land which is the likeliest to be earmarked for new building developments.
Scientist Anita Malhotra said: "Al-though newt populations would colonise an area within 500 metres of the breeding pond, they need a variety of habitat types in that area.
"They need ponds in which to breed, with clear areas in which the males can display to the females, water plants on which the females can deposit their eggs, but with no fish to prey on their eggs or larva.
"Great crested newts live on land for much of their lives, so as well as breeding ponds, they need rough pasture for foraging and stone or log piles for hibernation and retreat sites," said Ms Malhotra.
"If any of these elements are absent then the great crested newt population will not thrive."
Having surveyed the two sites suggested improvements will be presented to Anglesey council.
Ms Malhotra added: "These will be based not only on the survey observations but also on mathematical modelling that will predict which improvements will be of greater long-term benefit to the newt populations.
"Anglesey council will then be enable the suggested improvements to be carried out. In the future, biological science students may be involved in field studies to monitor any changes to the newt populations at the two sites."
According to Froglife, a registered charity, it is possible people who live on the outskirts of communities with ponds in their gardens may also have great crested newts using their ponds.
The newts are hibernating but they will be active between March and June.
* Any sightings should be reported to the local amphibian recorder at the North Wales Wildlife Trust, 376 High Street, Bangor, LL57 1YE, telephone 01248 351541.