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Episode 7 · 1 year 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 are your cohost, Max, and today I'm joined once again, that with another one of our co hosts, Dan He. So today we're today is going to be 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 me a series of few questions based on adders, the Habitat, the threats and the conservation efforts of the species. Yeah, okay, so let's get straight into it. So, Max, I have a question for you. I'm upset 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 general background of the adder by starting with the distribution in the UK. These snakes are actually the most common species of snakes found in the British isles, while having the wines distribution of any other terrestrial snake, of appearing to be the most abundant down in the southern parts of England. However, their population disputes distribution has now started to be more broken...

...up for our Scotland, England and Wales. If we look back into the past. Around the time of one thousand nine hundred and ninety two, there was a survey in Scotland which was primarily aimed towards farmers. This survey covered ninety four percent of Scotland, mainland and the in aisles included. The survey is showed at the adder by pair are barrass was spread across Scotland. was been widely across Scotland. Sorry, however, they did not seem to be. They did seem to be a lack of 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, what about their ecology as well? So, when it comes to their ecology, adders are reptiles, which means they need to have a certain survival requirements that which the habitat needs to fill. For example, these species are known to hibernate for at the winter, they use...

...underground sites to hibernate in before they emerge uring during early spring. Due to them being reptiles as well, they are called blooded. Therefore, that they need to have areas which has easy access to sunlights they can bust for a few for the few weeks to regain their energy before they go into the mating season. They also known to travel to a wetter environment, usually adjacent to the their normal hibernate environment. When they 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 in low 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, is their mate in ecology. I already mentioned briefly that the undergo a main season after a few weeks before they can make males are often the ones who actually seek out mate partners, because females only have a small slot of time when they will mate. On top of this, the females also have a low ability to 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 they in any desperate need for conservation or well, recently there's been a growing concern for the odd populations, as there has been recordings of wispread declined for out the UK, back into Fiss of five. There was a national surveillance program called make the add account, which aim to collect can counter of adders basking just after hibernation by the local public.

There were a total of two hundred sixty sites hues in this program. The data showed there was a significant can decline in small population sites, while there was a very, very weak increase in larger population sites. But these large sites contribute to only ten percent of the whole population side data. This report awesome mentioned that if this trend is to continue, then then the next fifteen to twenty years, the these adders will be stricted to only larger population groups and therefore ultimately causing extinction risk to drag to drastically increase right okay. So, even though when they were class as widely 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, which is an organized approach to developing a matening...

...conservation strategies for the adder, that the adder was suffering from a serious decline during the last fifty years. This was seeing populations from different English counters, such as heard for share, war Sestershire and Gloucestershire. Yeah, they have also, unfortunately, been locally extinct in other counties like Warwickshire, Oxfordshire and Nottinghamshire. Right. It is that majority of these declines are connected to heavy land you land use changes like large scale deforestation, which is reckoning, wrecking their hibernation habitats and leaving them open for severe injury due to the large machinery being used, also due to them have an isolated populations mixed with previously mentioned Fret, causing habitat fragmentation. The add 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 to the adders the law suffer greatly, as there's not much neetic difference between them all. Yeah, that's really dangerous and...

...yeah, another threat to these snakes is poor management on the species and habitat level. The vanishing or two thousand and nineteen port also suggested that there seems to be a lack of knowledge on important features and add its habitat needs, like corridor connectivity, hibernation, sunlight, basking and areas for hunting. Evidence of this is seen when they were disc when they were described to be an abundant in the wiry forest, with a 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 individuals in eleven different locals, which is drastically increased decreased. Yeah, they also vulnerable to change in their habitats. For instant grasslands and heathlands can be affected by 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 slow down 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 to early. But it increased precipitation can also fit their heathen and grass and habitats by potentially causing flooding, which will also force amount of hypen it hybernation too early. So it sounds like they deal with quite quite a few different threats as well. But if you were trying to convince a member of the general public, why should they care about conserving them? What? What do they do in that the habitat and the ECO system? Well, the adder is classed as an indicator species. These are important species to an ecosystem, as the indicate how health the ecosystem is. Their presence in a habitat such as I love, heathling, for example, shows that that the locale of the area is in prime condition, keeping everything...

...in balance and allow a sensitive species such as the adder to survive and thrive. If an indicated species like the adder was to disappear from an area, it means some destruction to the habitat has happened and may possibly lead to environmental degregation. So the presence kind of acts like a reminder to how are ECO systems are becoming more damaged and if we lose the added that much like most likely means that our ecosystems not healing it either. Exactly. Another reason why we should try and convert conserve adders and 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, which we can see as a medace, like mice and rats, which often carry diseases, especially in agricultural areas. But by conserving these animals, it can also educate on how important they can be for us an ecosystems to the general public and in turn, hopefully eliminate in...

...the negative stigma and prosecution snakes have from the general public, because any species snake survival is at risk due to becoming a common animal for people to fear, which leads to intentionally killing snakes in some cultures. Also, these species are one of six native reptiles and one of only free spirit species of snakes we have in the UK, with the added being the only venomous snake. So losing it would be like losing a special part of the UK because there's no other organism and he are quite like it. Yeah, it does seem like these snakes fell from grace somewhat with being this highly abund species throughout the UK. But or nor have it are now having their population was full and the habitats fractured as it. Is there any conservation efforts on going for the odder? Well, yeah, the adder 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 on the eye, I see you when Red List it is listed under the least concerned 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 legislation that is illegal to harm and kill this species no matter circumstance. You also not allowed to sell this animal. However, in Scotland they suffer more from the previously mentioned negative stigma and due to them being venomous, people seek out and kill and kill them out of misunderstood fear, despite the same legislation protecting them. What about monitoring? Is there any of that for adders, because that would help, that would definitely help the people seeking out to kill them as well. Well, yeah, there's a there is some monitoring efforts which can be and have been done, such as the classic capture, Mark and recapture method, where once an Indus has...

...been caught, they will make small mark or tag them and then release them. However, the use of photo graphic records of pigment patterns, any natural markings and the formation of their scales is now rising in popularity, along with the make the add account program where there was a citizens science projects which volunteers would go to locations where adders maybe severe the area and record any signs of adders they could find. I'll think I 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 of that? 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's habitat. A study was done on the efforts of large scale heathling management and how I also affects the adders. The study suggest that room the removal invade of invasive floral species, what kind of have negative impacts the adder, such as Bracken? The study also used temperature...

...loggers in different areas of heathland and place modular models of fake adders in their habitat. This allowed them to see that open areas of the air of the habitat do not allow the adder to effectively 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 when they were being walked. So this shows that habit at my nagement strategies need to 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 few fland or supply good area for firmer regulation and their way from and are away from public footpaths. Okay, so it seems like there's definitely some conservation efforts and awareness being raised for the Adda. But what about the future? So do you think there will be any challenges that we need to overcome in terms of the other well, one huge challenge...

...what needs to be overcome is climate change. Climate change is a challenge. What has been seen effects and all byns of the world and the UK's Heathlands, on the exception Hamate Change, is increase in temperatures in the heathen habitats. As previously mentioned, rising temperatures and is interrupting adders when they're emerging from hybernation. Therefore, it's affecting their life cycle and thrown our balance. Another issue is poor management for their habitats. They vanishing five, Viper, Twenty nineteen program stated that not all management for 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 management may also affect their prey items as well. Another studies showed that one population of adders experienced a food items shortage for a year. This led to drastic decrease 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 some of the males would just completely unable to reproduce whatsoever. You mentioned earlier about fear of Venom snakes. Do you think this will be a threat in the future as well. Most definitely. I believe how the public view the species is huge fact when its survival. If people see the species as a danger and a threat to was, then that negative stigma will not disappear and if that does not anish, then people will probably not get involved a conservation efforts for this important, key species. People such as farmers or locals of the area may still continue killing them, even with the legislations in place, as seen in Scotland, making on how we view the species crucial for its survival. Yeah, definitely, I think. Yeah, how the public see is everything is important, especially conservation and right. So I think we will end it there. I definitely have a new view on adders and understand it's importance in our ECO system and I hope this...

...episode is helped you understand every rue at home a little bit more about their very own native reptiles. But that's all for us for now. This was nature up signing out. Thanks for watching.

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