PhD Student (completed)
Peter Minting has now left ZSL.
- 2008–2012: PhD research student, Institute of Zoology and University of Sussex.
- 2004-2008: Biologist, Ayrshire Rivers Trust.
- 2003: Rutland Water Osprey Project Field Officer.
- 2002: Barbados Sea Turtle Project, University of West Indies.
- 1997: MSc Aquatic Resource Management, King’s College, London.
- 1995: BSc Behavioural Science, University of Nottingham.
Conservation biology and molecular ecology.
Natterjack toads (Bufo calamita) first tested positive for Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (BD) in the UK in 2004. BD, which causes the disease chytridiomycosis, has been linked to the decline of many amphibian species around the world. This fungal disease is thought to originate from the tropics and may have been spread by the global trade in amphibians. The aim of my PhD project is to assess the effect of BD on natterjack toad populations in Cumbria, where several sites are now infected. Little is known about the effects of BD on natterjack toads, or the epidemiology of this disease in a cold, lowland climate.
BD represents a major threat to the survival of UK natterjack populations. The natterjack toad is the UK’s rarest native amphibian and its natural range has contracted significantly in the last 100 years, mainly as a result of habitat loss. It is hoped that natterjacks will be able to resist the threat of infection by BD and avoid local extinction. Disease resistance is often linked to genetic diversity, which is low among UK natterjacks in comparison with those found in mainland Europe. Other studies have shown that there is wide variation between amphibian species, in terms of resistance to infection by BD. By comparing data collected from infected versus uninfected sites, it is hoped that an insight will be gained into the impact of BD on natterjacks at a population level.
Natterjack toad, Cumbria 2007 The exact route by which BD reached natterjack sites remains a mystery. In southern England infection appears to be linked to the presence of non-native amphibians such as North American bullfrogs and alpine newts. However, the relatively high prevalence of BD at natterjack sites is puzzling because many of these sites do not appear to contain non-native amphibians.
BD may be transported in a number of ways on a local and regional scale. In addition to work on Cumbrian natterjacks, I am trying to initiate research on other potential modes of BD transport, including wetland bird migration.
My funding is principally provided by Natural England, the Institute of Zoology and University of Sussex.