Professor Richard Griffiths
Professor of Biological Conservation
Ecology and conservation of amphibians and reptiles; effects of environmental change on threatened species; survey protocols for biodiversity.
- - R.A.Griffiths@kent.ac.uk
- - 01227 (82)3434
School Roles and Responsibilities
Deputy Director of Graduate Studies
My research and teaching activities revolve around the conservation of threatened species, with a particular focus on population ecology and amphibians and reptiles. Current projects include: researching amphibian declines and extinctions; evaluating actions to reduce developmental impacts on great crested newts and other species; developing survey and reintroduction protocols; wildlife trade and long-term population monitoring. This work is carried out in collaboration with a wide range of partners around the world, particularly in the UK, Europe, Latin America and Madagascar. Within DICE my research group utilises a well-equipped ecology laboratory and an on-campus field-trials area. We also maintain a small collection of amphibians and reptiles that provide the ex-situ components for a number of ongoing conservation programmes. Both undergraduate and postgraduate students have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in captive management methods, and to participate in surveys of local amphibian and reptile populations.back to top
Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository
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I am the convenor for the following Masters modules:
- DI836: Integrated Species Conservation and Management
- DI883: Special Topics in Conservation
- DI884: Research Methods for Natural Sciences
And also contribute to the following BSc modules:
- DI303: Survey and Monitoring for Biodiversity
Current Research Projects are:
- Reconnecting poverty-alleviation to biodiversity conservation in Kenya's Eastern Arc Mountains
- Development of standardised protocols for assessing reptile and amphibian populations
- A cutting-EDGE approach to saving Seychelles' evolutionarily distinct biodiversity
- Implementing CITES in Madagascar
- Examining the fate of local great crested newt populations following licensed developments
Population, community and behavioural ecology. Global amphibian declines and extinctions. Conservation of reptiles. Survey and monitoring protocols for biodiversity.
Assessment and mitigation of threats to amphibian populations
Although it is widely acknowledged that amphibians may be declining faster than other vertebrate classes, the threats that they face are diverse and complex. Understanding these threats and their impact on population dynamics is an essential first step in designing effective tools to neutralize them. In Britain, the effectiveness of current strategies to mitigate development threats to great crested newts is being investigated in combination with long-term population studies of this fully protected species. In addition, the use of amphibians as indicators of wider biodiversity is being tested. Related projects are investigating the role of captive breeding and reintroduction in species conservation planning, and analysing the impact of amphibian conservation programmes.
Species recovery programmes on islands
Some of the world's most threatened amphibian species occur on islands. In addition to their conservation importance, islands often provide natural laboratories for testing hypotheses about species declines and potential species recovery following threat mitigation. Current projects are focusing on endemic species on Indian Ocean islands (particularly Madagascar and the Seychelles), and how landscape change and habitat fragmentation are impacting on declining amphibian and reptile populations on Jersey.
Design of survey and monitoring programmes for reptiles and amphibians
Assessing the abundance and distribution of species is fundamental to conservation planning. However, simple counts of individuals or occupied sites may bear little relationship to actual population sizes or site occupancies because of variation in how easily individuals or populations are detected. Reptiles and amphibians pose particular challenges in this regard as a wide range of variables may affect how easily they are observed and detected. Current work is exploring how mark-recapture and site occupancy models can be used to account for variation in the detectability of reptiles and amphibians, and how survey and monitoring protocols can be designed to provide more informative data on population status and distribution. In addition, the responses of animals to different types of sampling devices - such as traps and cover objects - are being compared with a view to optimising sampling strategies. Work is particularly focusing on newts, slow-worms, grass snakes and adders.back to top
- Gail Austen-Price: Eyeing-up Biodiversity: How we Identify Species
- Andrew Buxton: Optimising the use of environmental DNA for surveying Great Crested Newts (Triturus cristatus)
- Gemma Harding: The best laid plans? Evaluation of ex situ components within species conservation action plans
- Aidan MacKay: Assessing the impact of the introduction of marsh frogs (Pelophylax ridibundus) on native anurans in Kent
- Darryn Nash: Ecological effectiveness of development led reptile translocation programmes in the United Kingdom
- Helen Pheasey: Methods of, and motives for, laundering a wildlife commodity beyond captive farms
- Jack Slattery: Feasibility of reintroducing the red-billed chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) to Kent
- Helena Turner, DICE, Population Status and Conservation of the Critically Endangered Bermuda Rock Lizard (Plestiodon Longirostris).
- Rob Ward: Distribution and conservation status of the grass snake on Jersey (with Jersey States Environment Department
- Nurulhuda Binti Zaharia: Assessing the status of amphibians in agricultural landscapes
Completed PhD students (and where they are now)back to top
BBC1 One Show – May 2012
BBC1 Great British Wildlife Revival – September 2013back to top
In this video clip Richard Griffiths discusses amphibian and reptile surveys in the UK and how statistical models can help in their design and analysis.
Live at Edinburgh
Hear Richard Griffiths giving a 20 min talk on ‘Detecting population changes in great crested newts: how much survey effort is needed?’ at the Herpetofauna Worker’s Meeting, Edinburgh Conference Centre, 26 January 2013.
Conservation of the Mallorcan midwife toad
A short video featuring DICE’s breeding colony of Mallorcan midwife toads and describing some of the work carried out by Richard Griffiths and his partners in Mallorca.
- President, British Herpetological Society
- Member, Executive Committee of the World Congress of Herpetology
- Member, IUCN/SSC Amphibian Specialist Group
- Member, Editorial Board of Conservation Evidence
- Member, International Review Panel of African Journal of Ecology
- Honorary International Conservation Research Fellow, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Jersey
- Honorary Life Member, British Herpetological Society
- Trustee, Amphibian Conservation Research Trust
- Trustee, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust
- Trustee, Wildwood Trust
- External Examiner: MSc Ecology and Management of the Natural Environment, University of Bristol; MSc Wildlife Management and Conservation, MSc Species Identification and Survey Skills, University of Reading