(First published on 18/4/12 on the ARGUK website

Recent media attention has highlighted the impact of current drought conditions on natterjack toad breeding success. Natterjack breeding ponds are typically shallow sandy pools which dry up in some years. This is good for keeping predators in check, but with several consecutive dry winters and springs, it poses a serious threat to breeding success.

Defra's Non-Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) has announced very worrying news for Britain's trees. An outbreak of the Asian longhorn beetle (ALB), an exotic beetle pest which could have severe consequences for British trees, has been found in Kent the Food and Environment Research Agency confirmed today. This is the first time an outbreak of this pest has been found in the UK and it is being treated extremely seriously.

Britain's only venomous snake, the adder (Vipera berus), has often been in the news over the last year or so. Fears over its apparent decline have raised media attention across the UK, but rarely does a lowly reptile precipitate such fuss as a parliamentary question and a note in Hansard!

New research into prehistoric pond terrapins

Many of you will be unaware that Britain was once home to some rather exotic species - including freshwater turtles. Today, the European pond terrapin Emys orbicularis is confined to warmer parts of Europe today, but during the 'Atlantic warm period' about 6000-9000 years ago, this warm-loving species was able to thrive in Norfolk of all places.

After years of speculation, it's now official - grass snakes are native to Scotland.

Conventional wisdom has always maintained that the grass snake (Natrix natrix) is native to England and Wales, but not to Scotland. Its northern range edge curiously matches the Scottish border, but the occasional reports of grass snakes north of the border have always been dismissed as erroneous.

The majority of CGO Ecology's work is field-based, and focuses on the most active periods for wildlife: spring, summer and autumn. Winter tends to be a less busy time, taken up with report writing, general site assessments, licence returns and renewals, tenders, and sharing data with LRCs and NGOs. 

When the plug was pulled in summer 2010 on funding for the planned renewal works on the A338 Spur Road near Bournemouth, the associated ecological works ground to a halt. And as the future of the project lies in limbo, this often raises questions.

An invasive species of crustacean known as the killer shrimp (Dikerogammarus villosus) is feared to be establishing itself in the UK. First identified at Grafham Water in Cambridgeshire in September 2010, it has since been identified at two locations in Wales, and may be present elsewhere.