The study was conducted in 2016-2017 in the Podkielecki Landscape Protection Area (area 26,485 ha). It was focused on the occurrence and distribution of amphibians and reptiles, the biology of the selected species and the existing threats.
Established in 1995, the Podkielecki Landscape Protection Area surrounds the city of Kielce from the north, east and south-east, and adjoins several other protected areas. It covers the western part of the Świętokrzyskie Mountains (part of the Klonowskie and Masłowskie ranges) and the southern part of the Suchedniów Plateau. The studied area is mostly covered by forest and thicket communities (48.1%) and farmlands (39.9%), followed by built-up areas (7.8%), industrial areas (0.5%), roads and railways (2.7%), and surface water bodies (1%).
The protected area is developed mainly on Palaeozoic rocks, including Cambrian and Ordovician sandstones, Silurian and Carboniferous shales, and Devonian marls. Podzolic soils predominate among soils. The largest rivers include Lubrzanka, Czarna Nida, Bobrza and Belnianka. There are no natural lakes within the PLPA limits, and the largest artificial reservoirs include the Cedzyna Reservoir, Morawica Reservoir, Suków Sandpit and two sedimentation reservoirs of the Kielce Power Plant. The area includes 2 nature reserves: Barcza and Sufraganiec.
The following amphibian species were recognised during the investigations within the borders of the studied area: alpine newt Ichthyosaura alpestris Laur., great crested newt Triturus cristatus Laur., smooth newt Lissotriton vulgaris L., European fire-bellied toad Bombina bombina L., common spadefoot toad Pelobates fuscus Laur., common toad Bufo bufo L., natterjack toad Epidalea calamita Laur., European green toad Bufotes viridis Laur., European tree frog Hyla arborea L., pool frog Pelophylax lessonae Cam., edible frog Pelophylax esculentus L., marsh frog Pelophylax ridibundus Pall., moor frog Rana arvalis Nilss., and common frog Rana temporaria L. The reptiles were represented by sand lizard Lacerta agilis L., viviparous lizard Zootoca vivipara Jacquin, slow worm Anguis fragilis L., grass snake Natrix natrix L. and common European adder Vipera berus L. The study also included the phenology and breeding biology of the common toad and common frog.
The most crucial herpetofauna conservation problems identified here include amphibians killed on roads by vehicles. The study area is intersected by very busy roads, in particular: European route no. E77, national roads nos. 73, 74 and S74, and regional roads nos. 745, 750 and 764. For this reason, future road reconstruction projects should consider the assembly of various crossing roads for wildlife, particularly on the 600 m long section of national road no. 74 near Cedzyna Reservoir. Other threats include illegal waste dumping, pollution of surface waters, fire setting, overgrowing and desiccation of small water bodies.