To effectively describe a species’ status and focus conservation efforts, it is useful to have information on their distribution. Patchy recording coverage and low detectability for some species has left notable gaps, for which ARC has focused on using species distribution modelling to attempt to shed light upon this aspect. The basis of species distribution modelling uses records of species occurrence, along with corresponding information about the environment (such as climate and land cover) to predict areas of suitable habitat. At ARC we use Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and statistical approaches to model at both the landscape and national scales.

We have recently carried out distribution modelling for natterjack toads, sand lizards, grass snakes and adders, with the most in-depth analysis focusing on the great crested newt (see Figure 1). We have also used a variety of other modelling techniques for great crested newts. This helps to predict key areas to target habitat creation to connect existing populations, such as building and restoring ponds in north Wales (see Figures 2 and 3). We plan to build on this work in future and extend these approaches to other important herpetofauna.