Like most animal biologists, I love to be in the field - getting my hands dirty and collective valuable data whilst observing and photographing the animals that fuel my passion. I've completed fieldwork in a number of different countries such as Germany, Tanzania and Malaysia. The majority of the fieldwork I have completed has been in the UK, where I've surveyed extensively for both amphibians and reptiles.
Ponds such as the one photographed are used by amphibians to breed, where they lay their eggs and then disperse into the surrounding environment leaving the tadpoles to fend for themselves. Surveys for amphibians are usually conducted at night with the use of powerful torches. Daytime surveys can be conducted using nets and also searching aquatic vegetation for newt eggs. I currently hold a Class 2 great crested newt licence for the mentioned techniques as well as bottle trapping.
Reptile surveys are completed slightly differently to amphibians surveys, they reply on the use of artificial refugia such as correlated sheet of steel photographed often referred to as a tin. Other potential refugia materials are roofing felt, Onduline and carpet tiles. Reptiles seek these out due to the favourable conditions they provide, at which point they can be searched. Whilst on a survey, two juvenile slow worms (Anguis fragilis) were found residing under this particular tin.
Disease is a major threat to both amphibians and reptiles, learning more about its spread and impacts is vital if we want to mitigate them. The amphibian chytrid fungi (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis & Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans) and snake fungal disease (Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola) are two fungal pathogen which currently threaten species globally. I have extensive experience in collecting samples from wild amphibians, such as this midwife toad (Alytes obstetricans), as well as extraction and qPCR analysis in the lab.
Biometric data is an important variable to collect when measuring wildlife populations, some of the methods are slightly more intrusive than others. Photographed above is a slow worm in a squash box, using the software ImageJ it is possible establish the length of the individual.