Private gardens not only provide a place of peace and relaxation for humans but can also serve as important habitats and stepping stones for many animal and plant species. Especially the two endangered species groups of amphibians and reptiles can benefit from a garden designed with nature in mind. However, occurrences of common tree frogs, smooth newts, common lizards, and other species in residential areas are comparatively poorly documented. Reports from garden owners can fill knowledge gaps and contribute to the exploration of the herpetofauna. For this reason, the Austrian Society for Herpetology (ÖGH) annually invites people throughout Austria to participate in the campaign “Von Alpenkammmolch bis Zauneidechse – Gartenfreunde bitte melden“. Observations from one's own garden, school or community gardens are welcome. This year, the campaign will take place from May 8th to 14th, 2023. Observations can be submitted via the platforms naturbeobachtung.at, inaturalist.at, or herpetofauna.at. Incoming reports will be verified by experts, and the reporters will be contacted in case of misidentification. The collected data will then be transmitted to the herpetofaunistic database of the Herpetological Collection of the Natural History Museum in Vienna (HFDÖ) and thus will be available for research and nature conservation in the future.
In the past two years, over 200 occurrences of amphibians and reptiles were reported, with over 1000 individuals from 22 species. On average, two observations per garden were submitted. Although all states were represented, most of the reports came from Lower Austria. The most common reptile species were slow worm, common lizard, and grass snake, while the smooth newt was the most frequently observed amphibian species, followed by the common toad and the group of water frogs. A brief summary of the previous years can be found in the ÖGH-Aktuell issues 59 and 62.