Why conserve amphibians? An interview with Phil Bishop

By |2018-04-26T08:04:28+00:00April 26th, 2018|Amphibians, Biodiversity, Ecosystems, Interviews|Comments Off on Why conserve amphibians? An interview with Phil Bishop

Phil Bishop wears many hats. He is the Chief Scientist of the Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA), a role he has had since the Alliance started back in 2011. He is also co-Chair of the IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group (ASG). The job he gets paid to do is Professor of Zoology and Director of Ecology at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. We spoke to Phil about his many decades of conservation work with amphibians, why amphibians matter and what the ASA and others are doing to conserve these amazing species and help more people understand their value and place in Earth’s incredible web of life.

How did you first become interested in amphibians? Was there one particular experience you remember?

I’ve been interested in amphibians since I was a child and I’ve always kept amphibians. One of my first experiences was coming across a British toad (Bufo bufo) when I was 4 or 5 years old. As a young kid, I always loved turning things over, looking under rocks and one time I caught a lovely, female British toad up on Dartmoor. She was a big female toad, a kind of red brick, sandy colour. When we met, she was very calm and she sat in my hand – she was almost bigger than my hand in fact, she was like my teddy bear! I just had such a fantastic interaction with her that I was hooked from that day on.

When did you first become aware of the urgent need to conserve amphibians?

I’ve had a passion for amphibians for over 55 years, and I studied amphibians through university, eventually doing my PhD in the social behaviour of amphibians. But it was the First World Congress of Herpetology in 1989 that really switched me on to amphibian conservation. I attended the Congress in my capac