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Eggs in Duckweed

Printed From: Reptiles and Amphibians of the UK
Category: Herpetofauna Native to the UK
Forum Name: Palmate Newt
Forum Description: Forum for all issues concerning Triturus helveticus
Printed Date: 26 May 2020 at 3:35am
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 11.06 -

Topic: Eggs in Duckweed
Posted By: Donny
Subject: Eggs in Duckweed
Date Posted: 16 Jul 2012 at 9:28pm
Been observing some female Palmates egg laying using the floating duckweed in our garden pond -  The eggs are bound together with the roots of several plants, which requires some serious water acrobatics from the newt! 

The pond was drained and re-lined last autumn so I am wondering if this is normal or due to a lack of alternatives - other vegetation is still a bit sparse.

Something to also keep in mind perhaps when clearing out that annoying duckweed.

Posted By: Caleb
Date Posted: 17 Jul 2012 at 10:15am
I cleared out some duckweed from my garden pond last week- there were a few smooth/palmate eggs in there, despite plenty of other suitable plants (starwort, hornwort, water forget-me-not) available. There were also several newt larvae hiding in it as well.

The newts in my pond will 'bask' in the sun on top of the duckweed and starwort, so I guess it's not too surprising if they lay eggs at the same time.

Posted By: sussexecology
Date Posted: 17 Jul 2012 at 4:55pm
And newts still in the ponds at the moment, despite the guidelines stating they should  have left by now!

Blame the weather for that, but does happen in some years.

At least it proves that the guidelines are not a rigid set of guidelines and there is some fleixbility in regards in timing of surveys in some years......Smile Anyone who states anything different does not have enough survey experience (or field craft, as we often call it)

Duckweed great for palmates/smooth newt egg layiing material and water mint particularly favoured in a few ponds.

Posted By: Donny
Date Posted: 17 Jul 2012 at 11:55pm
Yep, I can see adult newts in this garden pond at pretty much any month of the year, and I have posted before about still finding newt eggs in mid to late August...I don't know if being further north in Scotland has anything to do with that.

Posted By: Suzy
Date Posted: 18 Jul 2012 at 1:25am
I seem to have newts in my pond a lot of the year as well (East Devon).


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 19 Jul 2012 at 2:05am
Donny, really interesting observation, I thought they generally favoured fixed vegetation from my own observations, but I guess if nothing else is available duckweed has to do. Must be really difficult for them though because the females usually sort of hang on with their hind legs while they deposit the eggs and fold the leaf over, so I can imagine the acrobatics you have observed with them laying eggs on duckweed!

Regarding the guidelines LB had the answer to it when we discussed the new Reptile Guidelines. 

I get newts in the garden pond all year round here in Essex. I wouldn't though go look for them on a cold night in February, even if I might on a particularly mild night in January, when I often do see the first of them. I could also probably pull a toad out of the vegetation at many sites in August.

That's the problem though, the fact one might be fortunate with experience to know when/how to look for things a week after Christmas or way outside of traditional survey windows, some will take that as an excuse to carryout all their surveys in freezing weather in February to suit a client and quickly draw the conclusion nothing is there. 

It all really depends on the motivations of the consultant involved, those going out to find animals will do it right, those who do it simply as a job would happily just accept a negative result. I've come across this many times in the past. I call this 'tick box' ecology. Done 4 surveys, saw nothing ('cos I'm totally inexperienced and didn't have a clue), boxes ticked, time to move on. I know I'm being a bit sarcastic, but honestly I've seen so many consultants who actually work just like that who wouldn't spot an animal that fell on them. I think I've mentioned before that this then sets up a culture within that particular consultancy that negative survey results are perfectly normal and so it it goes on. 

They never seem to ask 'why are there no animals?' where I would be questioning weather conditions over several months before the survey, site history, my own field technique, survey timing and just about everything else before stating nothing was there. I'm sure you would be doing the same SE.

Hence the need for guidelines. They provide theoretical optimal times/temperatures etc for survey. For the poorer surveyor they are totally necessary to provide any confidence to concerned parties reading the report regarding negative results. For those with more knowledge we can be a lot more flexible if we know we'll get positive results. I mean who's going to question a reptile mitigation in August if you are pulling out 40 animals plus a day? But that takes confidence and knowledge, many consultants will be there at mid-day, sweating to death and capture a couple of lizards each day if they are really lucky. Personally I would have my feet up eating ice creams, waiting for an appropriate capture window.

Still we would all do well to work within the guidelines/best practice when we can, if for nothing more than setting a good example to others.

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