Populations of Bombina bombina in Schleswig-Holstein
grey dots: befor 1980
orange dots: after 1980

The Situation in Germany

In Germany the fire bellied toad can only be found north of the low-range mountains. Thus Schleswig-Holstein has a special responsibility in preserving this typical endangered and protected species of the lowlands. Almost 1 Million Euros have been funded to Schleswig-Holstein for a special programme to save the toads. A total of 50 spawning sites, 3.5ha temporarily flooded meadows and 33 places to hibernate are to be created by 2009.

The Situation in Schleswig-Holstein

The fire bellied toad is faced with extinction in Schleswig-Holstein (Red List Schleswig-Holstein category 1). In Schleswig-Holstein the number of spawning territories with more than 20 callers has dropped by about 32% from 28 to 19 in the period of 1980 to 2000.

The area of circulation in Schleswig-Holstein is the hilly countryside in the east (here the toad reaches ist northwestern limit of range): the East-Holstein lakeside and the Schaalsee area. Various insular populations can be found along the coast (similar to the situation in Denmark) for example the Geltinger Birk, the Danish Wohld and the Island of Fehmarn.


In the Natura-2000 areas the preservation of the species will be improved. The target is to expand the habitat of the fire bellied toad. Depending on the intitial positions and possibilities new habitats will be developed for 100 to 500 individuals in the project areas. Eventually all populations must consist of up to 1000 fully grown animals in order to avoid inbreeding, as happens in smaller populations.  

Creation of new ponds
Hibernation sites
Moderate grazing management


Deficits within the equipping of habitats have been identified in all partner areas. Thus the following habitat management measures are to be taken in all areas:

  • the creation of new ponds, lakes, pools
  • new places for hibernating as well as
  • the establishing of whole year extensive grazing to ensure a longlasting management of the water areas and also guaranteeing a gentle enrichment of structural varieties

In order to improve and maintain the present conditions further population management measures are to follow. Here support measures are planned for very small populations, resettlement und reserve populations, founded with animals from rearing stations.

To ensure population management genetic examinations are being carried out. Prof. Ralph Tiedemann and his fellow workers from Potsdam University are developing 3 genemarkers from the fire bellied toad and examining several samples from the populations in Denmark, Sweden, Latvia and Schleswig-Holstein. In addition to this further samples from comparison populations in Brandenburg, the Ukraine and Poland will also be examined. With the genetic examinations the following questions are hoped to be answered:

  • Which populations are originally from north-west and which are possibly derived totally or partly from populations originating from south-eastern Europe, i.e. as an effect of trout farming or illegal abandonings.
  • Which populations have developed through local process in evolution, i.e. long periods of isolation on islands?
  • How high is the degree of inbreeding and how high is the chance of a population surviving (fitness estimation)?
  • Are the danish mirror populations really an exact copy of the donor population? Are all genes from the donor population to be found in the mirror population?