Back to the future? Unravelling historic, current and potential future declines of the common toad, Bufo bufo, in the UK

ARC are very pleased to be collaborating with the Universities of Wolverhampton and Salford on this exciting project to investigate declines in one of Britain's most iconic species, the toad, in the hope we can elaborate some of the reason for them and take positive conservation action.

Project Description

The Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) at the University of Wolverhampton is looking for a motivated and resourceful PhD student with an interest in amphibians, fieldwork and genetics to take up a partially funded 3-year PhD research project entitled “Back to the future? Unravelling historic, current and potential future declines of the common toad, Bufo bufo, in the UK.” 

Common toads, Bufo bufo, are declining across many parts of the UK, especially within England. The reasons and extent of these declines are not fully known, however they are likely a combination of habitat loss and fragmentation, other human impacts and disease. Many amphibians can survive with small population sizes, suggesting that neutral or adaptive evolution may enable populations to survive drastic declines.

It is uncertain what the impacts of current population declines are on B. bufo across the UK and whether the species has been resilient to similar processes historically. The PhD student will compare genetic, morphological, population and environmental data to investigate geographic structuring, genetic diversity through time and the impacts of environmental change on toad populations. Using data generated for past and present toad populations, the student will build models for future population trends and provide important information about management strategies. The project will involve: fieldwork, molecular lab work (including extracting DNA from formalin fixed museum specimens and High-Throughput Sequencing) and morphological museum work. 

The project will be based at the University of Wolverhampton (UoW) and will take place in collaboration with the University of Salford (UoS) and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC); there will also be some involvement with the Institute of Zoology and British museums. The supervisory team consists of Prof Keith Burnham, Dr Simon Maddock (UoW), Dr Robert Jehle (UoS) and Dr John Wilkinson (ARC). For informal enquires please contact Dr Maddock – [email protected] 

The project will be based within the Rosalind Franklin Building, which is the University of Wolverhampton’s new £22 million science building and houses a broad range of state-of-the-art research facilities. 

For more information and to apply: