School of Anthropology & Conservation

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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.


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Academic Activities

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.

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

A. Buxton, Groombridge, J., Zakaria, N., and Griffiths, R., "Seasonal variation in environmental DNA in relation to population size and environmental factors", Scientific Reports, vol. 7. p. , 2017 [Online]. Available:
R. Griffiths, "Which amphibians should qualify for the ark?", Animal Conservation, vol. 20. Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 120-121, 2017 [Online]. Available:
A. Buxton, Groombridge, J., and Griffiths, R., "Is the detection of aquatic environmental DNA influenced by substrate type?", PLOS ONE, vol. 12. Public Library of Science, p. e0183371, 2017 [Online]. Available:
G. Rosa, Sabino-Pinto, J., Laurentino, T., Martel, A., Pasmans, F., Rebelo, R., Griffiths, R., Stohr, A., Marschang, R., Price, S., Garner, T., and Bosche, J., "Impact of asynchronous emergence of two lethal pathogens on amphibian assemblages", Scientific Reports. Nature Publishing Group, p. , 2017 [Online]. Available:
P. Mahoney, Miszkiewicz, J., Chapple, S., Le Luyer, M., Schlecht, S., Stewart, T., Griffiths, R., Deter, C., and Guatelli-Steinberg, D., "The Biorhythm of Human Skeletal Growth", Journal of Anatomy. Wiley, 2017 [Online]. Available:
H. Meredith, St John, F., Collen, B., Black, S., and Griffiths, R., "Practitioner and scientist perceptions of successful amphibian conservation", Conservation Biology. Wiley, 2017 [Online]. Available:
M. Hudson, Young, R., Lopez, J., Garcia, G., Adams, S., Martin, L., Fenton, C., McCrea, R., Griffiths, R., and Cunningham, A., "In-situ itraconazole treatment improves survival rate during an amphibian chytridiomycosis epidemic", Biological Conservation, vol. 195. Elsevier, pp. 37-45, 2016 [Online]. Available:
G. Austen, Bindemann, M., Griffiths, R., and Roberts, D., "Species identification by experts and non-experts: comparing images from field guides", Scientific Reports, vol. 6. 2016 [Online]. Available:
E. Wombwell, Garner, T., Cunningham, A., Quest, R., Pritchard, S., Rowcliffe, J., and Griffiths, R., "Detection of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in amphibians imported into the UK for the pet trade", EcoHealth. Springer, 2016 [Online]. Available:
B. Lewis, Griffiths, R., and Wilkinson, J., "Population status of great crested newts (Triturus cristatus) at sites subjected to development mitigation", Herpetological Journal, vol. 27. British HerpetologySociety, pp. 133-142, 2016.
E. Matechou, McCrea, R., Morgan, B., Nash, D., and Griffiths, R., "Open models for removal data", Annals of Applied Statistics. IMS, 2016 [Online]. Available:
M. Hudson, Young, R., D'Urban Jackson, J., Orozco-terWengel, P., Martin, L., James, A., Sulton, M., Garcia, G., Griffiths, R., Thomas, R., Magin, C., Bruford, M., and Cunningham, A., "Dynamics and genetics of a disease driven species decline to near extinction: lessons for conservation", Scientific reports. Springer Nature, p. , 2016 [Online]. Available:
G. Harding, Griffiths, R., and Pavajeau, L., "Developments in amphibian captive breeding and reintroduction programs", Conservation Biology, vol. 30. Wiley, pp. 340-349, 2015 [Online]. Available:
J. Germano, Field, K., Griffiths, R., Clulow, S., Foster, J., Harding, G., and Swaisgood, R., "Mitigation-driven translocations: are we moving wildlife in the right direction?", Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, vol. 13. pp. 100-105, 2015 [Online]. Available:
J. Robinson, St. John, F., Griffiths, R., and Roberts, D., "Captive reptile mortality rates in the home and implications for the wildlife trade", PLoS ONE, vol. 10. p. e0141460, 2015 [Online]. Available:
J. Dawson, Patel, F., Griffiths, R., and Young, R., "Assessing the global zoo response to the amphibian crisis through 20-year trends in captive collections", Conservation Biology, vol. 30. Wiley, pp. 82-91, 2015 [Online]. Available:
R. Griffiths, Foster, J., Wilkinson, J., and Sewell, D., "Science, statistics and surveys: a herpetological perspective", Journal of Applied Ecology, vol. 52. Blackwell, pp. 1413-1417, 2015 [Online]. Available:
J. Maldonado, Michaelides, S., Cornish, N., Griffiths, R., Groombridge, J., Zajac, N., Walters, G., Aubret, F., While, G., and Uller, T., "Phylogeography and Conservation Genetics of the Common Wall Lizard, Podarcis muralis, on Islands at Its Northern Range", PLOS ONE, vol. 10. Public Library of Science, p. e0117113, 2015 [Online]. Available:
J. Robinson, Griffiths, R., St. John, F., and Roberts, D., "Dynamics of the global trade in live reptiles: Shifting trends in production and consequences for sustainability", Biological Conservation, vol. 184. Elsevier, pp. 42-50, 2015 [Online]. Available:
H. Worthington, McCrea, R., King, R., and Griffiths, R., "Estimation of population size when capture probability depends on individual state", In prep. 2015.
A. Carpenter, Andreone, F., Moore, R., and Griffiths, R., "A review of the international trade in amphibians:the types, levels and dynamics of trade in CITES-listed species", Oryx, vol. 48. Cambridge University Press, pp. 565-574, 2014 [Online]. Available:
J. Biggs, Ewald, N., Valentini, A., Gaboriaud, C., Dejean, T., Griffiths, R., Foster, J., Wilkinson, J., Arnell, A., Brotherton, P., Williams, P., and Dunn, F., "Using eDNA to develop a national citizen science-based monitoring programme for the great crested newt (Triturus cristatus)", Biological Conservation, vol. 183. Elsevier, pp. 19-28, 2014 [Online]. Available:
W. Sutherland, Mitchell, R., Walsh, J., Amano, T., Ausden, M., Beebee, T., Bullock, D., Daniels, M., Deutsch, J., Griffiths, R., Prior, S., Whitten, T., and Dicks, L., "Conservation practice could benefit from routine testing and publication of management outcomes", Conservation Evidence, vol. 10. University of Cambridge, pp. 1-3, 2013.
D. Sewell, Guillera-Arroita, G., Griffiths, R., and Beebee, T., "When Is a Species Declining? Optimizing Survey Effort to Detect Population Changes in Reptiles", PLoS ONE, vol. 7. PLoS, 2012 [Online]. Available:
M. Taylor, Bunbury, N., Chong-Seng, L., Doak, N., Kundu, S., Griffiths, R., and Groombridge, J., "Evidence for evolutionary distinctiveness of a newly discovered population of sooglossid frogs on Praslin Island, Seychelles", Conservation Genetics, vol. 13. pp. 557-566, 2012 [Online]. Available:
R. Griffiths and Dos Santos, M., "Trends in conservation biology: Progress or procrastination in a new millennium?", Biological Conservation, vol. 153. Elsevier, pp. 153-158, 2012 [Online]. Available:
R. Griffiths and Di Minin, E., "Viability analysis of a threatened amphibian population: modelling the past, present and future", Ecography, vol. 34. pp. 162-169, 2011 [Online]. Available:
R. Griffiths, Shool, L., Olson, D., McMenamin, S., Murray, K., Van Sluys, M., Donnelly, M., Stratford, D., Terhivuo, J., Merino-Viteri, A., Herbert, S., Bishop, P., Corn, P., Dovey, L., Lowe, K., Mahony, M., McCallum, H., Shuker, J., Simpkins, C., Skerratt, L., Williams, S., and Hero, J., "Engineering a future for amphibians under climate change", Journal of Applied Ecology, vol. 48. Blackwell, pp. 487-492, 2011 [Online]. Available:
B. Tapley, Griffiths, R., and Bride, I., "Dynamics of the trade in reptiles and amphibians within the United Kingdom over a ten-year period", The Herpetological Journal, vol. 21. The British Herpetological Society, pp. 27-34, 2011.
R. Griffiths, Sewell, D., and McCrea, R., "Dynamics of a declining amphibian metapopulation: survival, dispersal and the impact of climate. ", Biological Conservation, vol. 143. pp. 485-491, 2010 [Online]. Available:
D. Sewell, Beebee, T., and Griffiths, R., "Optimising biodiversity assessments by volunteers: The application of occupancy modelling to large-scale amphibian surveys", Biological Conservation, vol. 143. Elsevier, pp. 2102-2110, 2010 [Online]. Available:
R. Griffiths and Pavajeau, L., "Captive breeding, reintroduction, and the conservation of amphibians", Conservation Biology, vol. 22. Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 852-861, 2008 [Online]. Available:
I. Bride, Griffiths, R., Melendez-Herrada, A., and McKay, J., "Flying an amphibian flagship: conservation of the Axolotl Ambystoma mexicanum through nature tourism at Lake Xochimilco, Mexico", International Zoo Yearbook, vol. 42. Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 116-124, 2008 [Online]. Available:
S. Walker, Bosch, J., James, T., Litvintseva, A., Valls, J., Pina, S., Garcia, G., Rosa, G., Cunningham, A., Hole, S., Griffiths, R., and Fisher, M., "Invasive pathogens threaten species recovery programs", Current Biology, vol. 18. Elsevier (Cell Press), pp. R853-R854, 2008 [Online]. Available:
R. Griffiths, Gregory, P., and Isaac, L., "Death feigning by grass snakes (Natrix natrix) in response to handling by human "predators"", Journal of Comparative Psychology, vol. 121. American Psychological Association, pp. 123-129, 2007 [Online]. Available:
J. Wilkinson, Beebee, T., and Griffiths, R., "Conservation genetics of an island toad: Bufo bufo in Jersey", Herpetological Journal, vol. 17. British HerpetologySociety, pp. 192-198, 2007.
C. Woodhead, Vences, M., Vieites, D., Gamboni, I., Fisher, B., and Griffiths, R., "Specialist or generalist? Feeding ecology of the Malagasy poison frog Mantella aurantiaca", Herpetological Journal, vol. 17. British Herpetology Society, pp. 225-236, 2007.
J. Mendelson, Lips, K., Gagliardo, R., Rabb, G., Collins, J., Diffendorfer, J., Daszak, P., Ibanez, R., Zippel, K., Lawson, D., Wright, K., Stuart, S., Gascon, C., da Silva, H., Burrowes, P., Joglar, R., la Marca, E., Lotters, S., Du Preez, L., Weldon, C., Hyatt, A., Rodriguez-Mahecha, J., Hunt, S., Robertson, H., Lock, B., Raxworthy, C., Frost, D., Lacy, R., Alford, R., Campbell, J., Parra-Olea, G., Bolanos, F., Domingo, J., Halliday, T., Murphy, J., Wake, M., Coloma, L., Kuzmin, S., Price, M., Howell, K., Lau, M., Pethiyagoda, R., Boone, M., Lannoo, M., Blaustein, A., Dobson, A., Griffiths, R., Crump, M., Wake, D., and Brodie, E., "Biodiversity - Confronting amphibian declines and extinctions", Science, vol. 313. American Association for the Advancement of Science, pp. 48-48, 2006 [Online]. Available:
F. Kraaijeveld-Smit, Griffiths, R., Moore, R., and Beebee, T., "Captive breeding and the fitness of reintroduced species: a test of the responses to predators in a threatened amphibian", Journal of Applied Ecology, vol. 43. Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 360-365, 2006 [Online]. Available:
D. Guicking, Griffiths, R., Moore, R., Joger, U., and Wink, M., "Introduced alien or persecuted native? Resolving the origin of the viperine snake (Natrix maura) on Mallorca", Biodiversity and Conservation, vol. 15. SPRINGER, pp. 3045-3054, 2006 [Online]. Available:
R. Griffiths, Kraaijeveld-Smit, F., Beebee, T., Moore, R., and Schley, L., "Low gene flow but high genetic diversity in the threatened Mallorcan midwife toad Alytes muletensis", Molecular Ecology, vol. 14. Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 3307-3315, 2005 [Online]. Available:
T. Beebee and Griffiths, R., "The amphibian decline crisis: A watershed for conservation biology?", Biological Conservation, vol. 125. Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam., pp. 271-285, 2005 [Online]. Available:
P. Edgar, Griffiths, R., and Foster, J., "Evaluation of translocation as a tool for mitigating development threats to great crested newts (Triturus cristatus) in England, 1990-2001", Biological Conservation, vol. 122. Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam., pp. 45-52, 2005 [Online]. Available:
R. Griffiths, "Mismatches between conservation science and practice", Trends in Ecology & Evolution, vol. 19. Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam., pp. 564-565, 2004 [Online]. Available:
R. Griffiths, Moore, R., O'Brien, C., Murphy, A., and Jay, D., "Induced defences in an endangered amphibian in response to an introduced snake predator", Oecologia, vol. 141. Springer Science + Business Media, pp. 139-147, 2004 [Online]. Available:
R. Moore, Griffiths, R., and Roman, A., "Distribution of the Mallorcan midwife toad (Alytes muletensis) in relation to landscape topography and introduced predators", Biological Conservation, vol. 116. Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam., pp. 327-332, 2004 [Online]. Available:
F. Kraaijeveld-Smit, Rowe, G., Beebee, T., and Griffiths, R., "Microsatellite markers for the Mallorcan midwife toad Alytes muletensis", Molecular Ecology Notes, vol. 3. Blackwell publishers, pp. 152-154, 2003.
J. Robinson, Griffiths, R., and Jeffries, P., "Susceptibility of frog (Rana temporaria) and toad (Bufo bufo) eggs to invasion by Saprolegnia", Amphibia-Reptilia, vol. 24. E.J Brill, pp. 261-268, 2003 [Online]. Available:
R. Jenkins, Brady, L., Bisoa, M., Rabearivony, J., and Griffiths, R., "Forest disturbance and river proximity influence chameleon abundance in Madagascar", Biological Conservation, vol. 109. Elsevier Science B.V, pp. 407-415, 2003 [Online]. Available:
A. Wong, Griffiths, R., and Beebee, T., "The influence of tadpole size on cell-mediated competition between anuran larvae (Bufo calamita and Rana temporaria) in the laboratory", Amphibia-Reptilia, vol. 21. pp. 431-438, 2000 [Online]. Available:
L. Brady and Griffiths, R., "Developmental responses to pond desiccation in tadpoles of the British anuran amphibians (Bufo bufo, B-calamita and Rana temporaria)", Journal of Zoology, vol. 252. Cambridge Uni Press , pp. 61-69, 2000 [Online]. Available:
Book section
R. Griffiths, Garcia, G., and Olivier, J., "Re-introduction of the Mallorcan midwife toad, Mallorca, Spain", in Global re-introduction perspectives: Re-introduction case studies from around the globe, P. P. Soorae, Ed. Abu Dhabi: IUCN/SSC Re-introduction Specialist Group, 2008, pp. 54-57.
R. Griffiths, Buhlmann, K., McKay, J., and Tuberville, T., "Reintroductions.", in Amphibian Conservation Action Plan: Proceedings: IUCN/SSC Amphibian Conservation Summit 2005, C. Gascon, Collins, J. P., Moore, R. D., Church, D. R., McKay, J. E., and Mendelson, J. R., Eds. Switzerland and Cambridge: The World Conservation Union (IUCN), Gland, Switzerland, 2007, pp. 40-42.
R. Griffiths, "Great crested newts in Europe: the effects of metapopulation structure and juvenile dispersal on population persistence", in Species Conservation and Management: Case Studies, H. R. Ackakaya, Burgman, M. A., Kindvall, O., Wood, C. C., Sjogren-Gulve, P., Hatfield, J. S., and McCarthy, M. A., Eds. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, pp. 281-291.
L. Brady and Griffiths, R., "Chameleon population density estimates", in The Natural History of Madagascar, S. M. Goodman and Benstead, J. P., Eds. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004, pp. 970-972.
Showing 55 of 76 total publications in KAR. [See all in KAR]


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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
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Current Research Projects are:

Research Interests

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.

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PhD students

  • 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
  • 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)

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BBC1 One Show – May 2012

BBC1 Great British Wildlife Revival – September 2013

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Surveying Podcast
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.


View the PowerPoint for Richard's talk:


Listen to Richard's talk:


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.

National/International activities

  • 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
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School of Anthropology and Conservation - © University of Kent

School of Anthropology and Conservation, Marlowe Building, The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NR, T: +44 (0)1227 827056

Last Updated: 13/10/2017