Frog project spawns top honour for professor

A University of Sussex world expert on amphibians has received the British Naturalists' Association's highest honour for his outstanding contribution to our understanding of natural history and conservation.

Molecular ecologist Professor Trevor Beebee is the 2009 recipient of the BNA Peter Scott Memorial Award, joining an illustrious list of previous recipients that include Sir David Attenborough and Bill Oddie.

Professor Beebee, who accepted the award at the BNA's annual conference on May 9 from David Bellamy, president of the association, said:  "I  was delighted and very flattered to receive this acknowledgement for an activity that I have thoroughly enjoyed throughout my working life. It is a great privilege to be honoured in this way by fellow natural historians, and I am profoundly grateful for this recognition."

Professor Beebee is an acknowledged authority on the conservation, biology and molecular ecology of amphibians. His work at the University includes the Pool Frog Project, which  contributed to the identification of a native species, the Northern Pool Frog (Rana lessonae), initially thought to be alien to the British Isles. As Britain only had six native amphibians, the recognition and addition of a seventh is a significant  development. 

Together with his research team, Professor Beebee was part of the Pool Frog Species Action Plan, which has recently reintroduced  Pool Frogs back to the wild in Britain. He is also President of the British Herpetological Society and Trustee of the Herpetological Trust and Amphibian Conservation Research Trust and has written several monographs, including,   The Natterjack Toad Conservation Handbook (OUP) and Frogs and Toads (Whittet).

Roger Tabor, chairman of the BNA said of Professor Beebee: "It is hard to think of someone who would better deserve this award more than Professor Trevor Beebee. We don't have many amphibians in this country, only half a dozen, so to add another new native species, (an apparent contradiction of terms), is such an undertaking and such an achievement. He and his team have gathered genetic data, call recordings, and linked that to archaeological finds to establish that the Northern Pool Frog is a true native British species."

 Notes for editors

For more information about the award, see British Naturalists' Association

Professor Trevor Beebee's University of Sussex research page

Previous Press Release 'Research into frog's croak aids native species comeback'


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By: Jacqui Bealing
Last updated: Friday, 11 December 2009