Sounder SIGN UP FOR FREE
NatureLab
NatureLab

Episode 7 · 6 months ago

#7 UK Species & Habitats: Adders (Part 2)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Hello and welcome back to Naturelab! Today's episode is the second half to our two part podcast. Dan and Max talk and dicuss the conservation efforts and value of the UK's only native venomous snake, the Adder! This episode will go into depth on how and why she should conserve these creatures and how they benefit our precious ecosystems. 

Hello, welcome back to Nature Lub, the show we talk about everything and anything about nature. And when areyour cohost, Max, and today I'm joined once again, that with anotherone of our co hosts, Dan He. So today we're today is going tobe another shorter episode as well. We're going to be talking about adders. So this is how it's going to work. DWAN's going to ask mea series of few questions based on adders, the Habitat, the threats and theconservation efforts of the species. Yeah, okay, so let's get straight intoit. So, Max, I have a question for you. I'mupset that. What what are adders and why they're so important to the UK? Okay, so first of all, I'm going to start with the generalbackground of the adder by starting with the distribution in the UK. These snakesare actually the most common species of snakes found in the British isles, whilehaving the wines distribution of any other terrestrial snake, of appearing to be themost abundant down in the southern parts of England. However, their population disputesdistribution has now started to be more broken...

...up for our Scotland, England andWales. If we look back into the past. Around the time of onethousand nine hundred and ninety two, there was a survey in Scotland which wasprimarily aimed towards farmers. This survey covered ninety four percent of Scotland, mainlandand the in aisles included. The survey is showed at the adder by pairare barrass was spread across Scotland. was been widely across Scotland. Sorry,however, they did not seem to be. They did seem to be a lackof individuals when it came to the Central Valley, the hour he brides, which is the archipelago of islands, and the northern aisles of Scotland itself. They also seem to like any disputution whatsoever in Ireland. Okay, whatabout their ecology as well? So, when it comes to their ecology,adders are reptiles, which means they need to have a certain survival requirements thatwhich the habitat needs to fill. For example, these species are known tohibernate for at the winter, they use...

...underground sites to hibernate in before theyemerge uring during early spring. Due to them being reptiles as well, theyare called blooded. Therefore, that they need to have areas which has easyaccess to sunlights they can bust for a few for the few weeks to regaintheir energy before they go into the mating season. They also known to travelto a wetter environment, usually adjacent to the their normal hibernate environment. Whenthey need to feed. They tend to inhibit habitats which have slopes or gully, but will not always necessary turn away from a flat ground location. However, they're habing a hibernating habitats need good drainage. This species typically live inlow heathlands, which are usual could by thick but low ground vegetation like Gorse, bramble and Bracken. However, they require a different habitat for feeding,a basting like mentioning earlier, so they usually seek cup barns like ponds,streams and marshes. One factor which affects...

...their population numbers, however, istheir mate in ecology. I already mentioned briefly that the undergo a main seasonafter a few weeks before they can make males are often the ones who actuallyseek out mate partners, because females only have a small slot of time whenthey will mate. On top of this, the females also have a low abilityto produce offspring because it takes very high levels of fitness cost to reproduce, resulting in a constraint and limited population size. They sound really cool.What what about their conservation staff? This is there any day? Are theyin any desperate need for conservation or well, recently there's been a growing concern forthe odd populations, as there has been recordings of wispread declined for outthe UK, back into Fiss of five. There was a national surveillance program calledmake the add account, which aim to collect can counter of adders baskingjust after hibernation by the local public.

There were a total of two hundredsixty sites hues in this program. The data showed there was a significant candecline in small population sites, while there was a very, very weak increasein larger population sites. But these large sites contribute to only ten percent ofthe whole population side data. This report awesome mentioned that if this trend isto continue, then then the next fifteen to twenty years, the these adderswill be stricted to only larger population groups and therefore ultimately causing extinction risk todrag to drastically increase right okay. So, even though when they were class aswidely distributed as they're still in harsh decline. And if they are,what? What's caused this? Yeah, so they are still on Hart decline. According to a report called Vanison Vanishing Viper two thousand and nineteen, whichis an organized approach to developing a matening...

...conservation strategies for the adder, thatthe adder was suffering from a serious decline during the last fifty years. Thiswas seeing populations from different English counters, such as heard for share, warSestershire and Gloucestershire. Yeah, they have also, unfortunately, been locally extinctin other counties like Warwickshire, Oxfordshire and Nottinghamshire. Right. It is thatmajority of these declines are connected to heavy land you land use changes like largescale deforestation, which is reckoning, wrecking their hibernation habitats and leaving them openfor severe injury due to the large machinery being used, also due to themhave an isolated populations mixed with previously mentioned Fret, causing habitat fragmentation. Theadd of populations are forced inbreed with one another, making them genetically identical.This means it's some things such as a disease emerges what can become lethal tothe adders the law suffer greatly, as there's not much neetic difference between themall. Yeah, that's really dangerous and...

...yeah, another threat to these snakesis poor management on the species and habitat level. The vanishing or two thousandand nineteen port also suggested that there seems to be a lack of knowledge onimportant features and add its habitat needs, like corridor connectivity, hibernation, sunlight, basking and areas for hunting. Evidence of this is seen when they weredisc when they were described to be an abundant in the wiry forest, witha Max of Tun hundred and sixty seven individuals x sixty one different locals,even despite with all the charcoal and railway construction going on at the time.However, in two thousand and eighteen there is now only for thirty nine individualsin eleven different locals, which is drastically increased decreased. Yeah, they alsovulnerable to change in their habitats. For instant grasslands and heathlands can be affectedby factors of climate change, such as...

...a temperature change and increased precipitation.Temperature change can of fat adders lifestyles like. Of the temperature calls, they'll slowdown and must spend more time basking in the sun to warm up,while if the temperature rises, it could cause them to emerge from hibernation toearly. But it increased precipitation can also fit their heathen and grass and habitatsby potentially causing flooding, which will also force amount of hypen it hybernation tooearly. So it sounds like they deal with quite quite a few different threatsas well. But if you were trying to convince a member of the generalpublic, why should they care about conserving them? What? What do theydo in that the habitat and the ECO system? Well, the adder isclassed as an indicator species. These are important species to an ecosystem, asthe indicate how health the ecosystem is. Their presence in a habitat such asI love, heathling, for example, shows that that the locale of thearea is in prime condition, keeping everything...

...in balance and allow a sensitive speciessuch as the adder to survive and thrive. If an indicated species like the adderwas to disappear from an area, it means some destruction to the habitathas happened and may possibly lead to environmental degregation. So the presence kind ofacts like a reminder to how are ECO systems are becoming more damaged and ifwe lose the added that much like most likely means that our ecosystems not healingit either. Exactly. Another reason why we should try and convert conserve addersand snake species in general is because they play another significant role in the ecosystem, as they can provide ecological services to us by praying grunt animals, whichwe can see as a medace, like mice and rats, which often carrydiseases, especially in agricultural areas. But by conserving these animals, it canalso educate on how important they can be for us an ecosystems to the generalpublic and in turn, hopefully eliminate in...

...the negative stigma and prosecution snakes havefrom the general public, because any species snake survival is at risk due tobecoming a common animal for people to fear, which leads to intentionally killing snakes insome cultures. Also, these species are one of six native reptiles andone of only free spirit species of snakes we have in the UK, withthe added being the only venomous snake. So losing it would be like losinga special part of the UK because there's no other organism and he are quitelike it. Yeah, it does seem like these snakes fell from grace somewhatwith being this highly abund species throughout the UK. But or nor have itare now having their population was full and the habitats fractured as it. Isthere any conservation efforts on going for the odder? Well, yeah, theadder is recognized internationally to be to be important and his list under appendix free, which is a protected fauna species in...

...the the burn convention. And onthe eye, I see you when Red List it is listed under the leastconcerned category, even though there's many clear signs that they are dropping in population. For the species. In the UK they are protected via the UK legislationthat is illegal to harm and kill this species no matter circumstance. You alsonot allowed to sell this animal. However, in Scotland they suffer more from thepreviously mentioned negative stigma and due to them being venomous, people seek outand kill and kill them out of misunderstood fear, despite the same legislation protectingthem. What about monitoring? Is there any of that for adders, becausethat would help, that would definitely help the people seeking out to kill themas well. Well, yeah, there's a there is some monitoring efforts whichcan be and have been done, such as the classic capture, Mark andrecapture method, where once an Indus has...

...been caught, they will make smallmark or tag them and then release them. However, the use of photo graphicrecords of pigment patterns, any natural markings and the formation of their scalesis now rising in popularity, along with the make the add account program wherethere was a citizens science projects which volunteers would go to locations where adders maybesevere the area and record any signs of adders they could find. I'll thinkI heard about the make the out account. That was a really good campaign.And what about management side there for conservation efforts? Is there any ofthat? One of the best way to manage the conservation for a species,I would say, is to conservate, is to have conservation management for it'shabitat. A study was done on the efforts of large scale heathling management andhow I also affects the adders. The study suggest that room the removal invadeof invasive floral species, what kind of have negative impacts the adder, suchas Bracken? The study also used temperature...

...loggers in different areas of heathland andplace modular models of fake adders in their habitat. This allowed them to seethat open areas of the air of the habitat do not allow the adder toeffectively firm or regulate, as they cannot find anywhere to cool off when needed. And how the fake models were trampled by livestock and attacked by dogs whenthey were being walked. So this shows that habit at my nagement strategies needto take these things into consideration. So when new strategies are being formed,they could use natural borders such as a hedge to block out areas a fewfland or supply good area for firmer regulation and their way from and are awayfrom public footpaths. Okay, so it seems like there's definitely some conservation effortsand awareness being raised for the Adda. But what about the future? Sodo you think there will be any challenges that we need to overcome in termsof the other well, one huge challenge...

...what needs to be overcome is climatechange. Climate change is a challenge. What has been seen effects and allbyns of the world and the UK's Heathlands, on the exception Hamate Change, isincrease in temperatures in the heathen habitats. As previously mentioned, rising temperatures andis interrupting adders when they're emerging from hybernation. Therefore, it's affecting theirlife cycle and thrown our balance. Another issue is poor management for their habitats. They vanishing five, Viper, Twenty nineteen program stated that not all managementfor habitats are considering the requirements that adder needs, such as corridor connectivity,basking spots and access to nearby wetland habitats for food. Improper Habitat manager managementmay also affect their prey items as well. Another studies showed that one population ofadders experienced a food items shortage for a year. This led to drasticdecrease in body mass and the reproductive female...

...adders had inclining survivability because of it, as they must spend a highlight a fitness level to reproduce, while someof the males would just completely unable to reproduce whatsoever. You mentioned earlier aboutfear of Venom snakes. Do you think this will be a threat in thefuture as well. Most definitely. I believe how the public view the speciesis huge fact when its survival. If people see the species as a dangerand a threat to was, then that negative stigma will not disappear and ifthat does not anish, then people will probably not get involved a conservation effortsfor this important, key species. People such as farmers or locals of thearea may still continue killing them, even with the legislations in place, asseen in Scotland, making on how we view the species crucial for its survival. Yeah, definitely, I think. Yeah, how the public see iseverything is important, especially conservation and right. So I think we will end itthere. I definitely have a new view on adders and understand it's importancein our ECO system and I hope this...

...episode is helped you understand every rueat home a little bit more about their very own native reptiles. But that'sall for us for now. This was nature up signing out. Thanks forwatching.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (7)