Conserve Wildlife Blog

March 20th, 2015

Road Closed: Salamander Crossing

Road Closures Help Amphibians Migrate to Vernal Pools to Breed

Conserve Wildlife Foundation is excited to celebrate Amphibian Awareness Month during March 2015! Follow us on social media and be sure to check your email (sign up for our list) for weekly stories on the amphibians of the Garden State and our work to protect them. 

By: Lindsay McNamara, Communications Coordinator

Yellow Spotted Salamander © Lindsay McNamara

Yellow Spotted Salamander © Lindsay McNamara

 

On the night of March 14, Conserve Wildlife Foundation Communications Coordinator Lindsay McNamara attended the first closure of Beekman Road this season. Beekman Road, in East Brunswick, New Jersey, is closed to traffic about two or three nights for six to twelve hours each spring by Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission (Friends of EBEC). Friends of EBEC organizes these road closures to maintain local biodiversity.

 

In the woods on either side of Beekman Road, vernal pool habitat exists. Vernal pools are temporary woodland ponds that fill with water during the winter and spring and dry out in the summer. These vernal pools are extremely important for a number of amphibians in the area. Spotted salamanders, wood frogs, green frogs, spring peepers, Fowlers toads and chorus frogs all rely on the vernal pools for breeding.

 

Some amphibians, like spotted salamanders and wood frogs are entirely dependent on the vernal pools for breeding. They leave their winter hibernation spots in upland forests and migrate (often in large groups) to the vernal pools. Research suggests that these species follow the same migratory paths each year, often traveling distances of as much as 1,000 feet from their hibernation spots.

 

At the vernal pool, mating occurs, eggs are deposited by the females, and the adults leave the habitat and venture to the surrounding woods. The adults spend their summer in these wooded areas before slowly retreating back to their winter hibernation areas, and the natural cycle begins again.

 

Unfortunately, the migrating amphibians need to cross Beekman Road to get from their hibernating spots to their vernal pool breeding grounds. Road kills during this journey significantly reduce salamander and frog populations and can lead to local extinctions at breeding ponds.

 

Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission has worked together with a number of partners to close Beekman Road to traffic during nights when amphibian migration is extremely likely. These road closures help protect migrating salamanders and frogs as they move across Beekman Road to their breeding vernal pools.

 

Friends of EBEC consider a number of variables before they decided to close the road. A wide range of factors trigger salamander migration including the amount and timing of rainfall, the date, the temperature of the air, the temperature of the ground, the availability of open water on the vernal pools, the depth the salamanders are migrating, soil moisture and many others. Interestingly, studies have shown that males typically migrate first and arrive at the vernal pools before the females. It seems females need a higher average air temperature to stimulate their movement than the males.

 

Volunteers are encouraged to come on these rainy nights to help the amphibians cross the road. Bring your friends, your family and don’t forget a flashlight, to the next road closure of the season! Updates are posted on the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission’s blog.

 

These road closures are a great way to protect local biodiversity and educate New Jersey residents about wildlife in their state. Conserve Wildlife Foundation, in partnership with the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program, lead a number of Amphibian Crossing volunteer programs across New Jersey. Join us!

 

Learn more:

 

Lindsay McNamara is the Communications Coordinator for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

March 20th, 2015

Ranavirus Impacting New Jersey Amphibians

Emerging Disease Known to Affect Amphibians, Reptiles and Fish

Conserve Wildlife Foundation is excited to celebrate Amphibian Awareness Month during March 2015! Follow us on social media and be sure to check your email (sign up for our list) for weekly stories on the amphibians of the Garden State and our work to protect them. 

By: Kelly Triece, Wildlife Biologist

Picture1

Wood frog and egg masses at a vernal pool in northern New Jersey © Kelly Triece

 

While human diseases such as Ebola and the zombie apocalypse virus have made recent headlines in the news and on our TV screens, there is a virus that is also affecting our local amphibian population. This emerging disease known as Ranavirus, has become increasingly common in the U.S., including New Jersey.

 

This virus has been known to affect amphibians, reptiles and fish. It is of great concern because it can kill nearly 100% of amphibian larvae (tadpoles) within just a few days once a population is infected. Ranavirus causes skin ulcerations and organ hemorrhaging, and is especially threatening to larvae, specifically wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus). Transmission of the disease can be spread direct contact, waterborne exposure, contaminated soil, and ingestion of infected tissues.

 

While the virus has been known to cause major die-offs all over the world, little information on the timing, extent, and frequency of the disease outbreaks is known in the Mid-Atlantic U.S.. In order to gain more information, a multi-state survey has been underway since 2013. The project is led by Scott Smith of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Conserve Wildlife Foundation staff biologists are doing a large amount of New Jersey’s field surveillance with support from the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP).

Netting tadpoles ©MacKenzie Hall

Netting tadpoles ©MacKenzie Hall

As part of this project, in 2013, breeding ponds throughout the New Jersey were sampled for prevalence of Ranavirus. Thirty larvae from each study pond were captured by dip net, physically examined, euthanized, and preserved for screening and other analyses at the labs of Montclair State University and/or the National Wildlife Health Center. Results determined that about half of these ponds tested positive for Ranavirus.

 

In 2014, Ranavirus-positive sites were re-sampled for presence of the disease. At about 25% of the sites, disease symptoms and/or dead tadpoles were found, though no mass die-offs were observed. Investigations are still ongoing to further determine the impact of Ranavirus on amphibian populations as well as potential environmental factors that may be associated with the disease.

 

Learn more:

 

Kelly Triece is a Wildlife Biologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

March 20th, 2015

Donations needed to see Osprey Cam nest at night!

Help us raise $350 to purchase a new infrared light in the next 7 days. UPDATE – after only 2 hours we’ve raised enough to purchase the new IR!!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

DARK: With no infrared we will not be able to watch the osprey cam nest at night.

DARK: With no infrared we will not be able to watch the osprey cam nest at night.

UPDATE: I couldn’t be happier right now! We raised more then twice that we needed to replace the IR light at the osprey cam nest! Thank you so much to all of the generous donors who gave to support this amazing project!! Any additional funds that we get will be restricted for future Osprey Cam repairs. We’ll be sure to post an update when we go out to install the new light. –Ben


This might be the new night time view of the Osprey Cam nest at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. The infrared light is currently not working and we need a replacement. If we do not get a new light installed in the next two weeks then we will not be able to view the osprey nest at night this season. :(

You would think it would be easy to replace the unit… Not so much. The Raytek i2 infrared illuminator is currently on back-order from our supplier (we have already had one on order for our new Hawk Cam) and we cannot get an advanced replacement from the manufacturer. Now we need to purchase one from another distributor as soon as possible.

With your support we will be able to purchase and install the new illuminator before the osprey pair starts nesting in mid-April. We need to raise a total of $350 to purchase the light. Big or small, your donation will help make sure that the osprey cam streams into the many homes and classrooms 24/7 during the nesting season! Thank you!!

In other news, the female returned to the nest yesterday!


March 13th, 2015

Photos From the Field: Little Brown Bats in Hibernia Mine

Data Collected for White-nose Syndrome Research

By: Stephanie Feigin, Wildlife Ecologist 

This week, Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s Wildlife Ecologist Stephanie Feigin went into Hibernia Mine with New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife Endangered Species and Nongame Program (ENSP) Biologist MacKenzie Hall and John Gumbs with BATS Research Center. The group collected data for important research studies on the fungus responsible for White-nose Syndrome (Pseudogymnoascus destructans) and White-nose Syndrome itself. The data will be used in a UC Santa Cruz University study led by Dr. Winifred Frick, as well as a Rutgers University study led by 2014 Women & Wildlife Education Award Winner Dr. Brooke Maslo.

Hibernia Mine (c) Stephanie Feigin

Hibernia Mine (c) Stephanie Feigin

Hibernia Mine Entrence (c) Stephanie Feigin

Hibernia Mine Entrance (c) Stephanie Feigin

Hibernia Mine Entrance from Inside Cave (c) Stephanie Feigin

Hibernia Mine Entrance from Inside Cave (c) Stephanie Feigin

Stalagmites in Hibernia Mine (c) Stephanie Feigin

Stalagmites in Hibernia Mine (c) Stephanie Feigin

Little Brown Bats (c) Stephanie Feigin

Little Brown Bats (c) Stephanie Feigin

Little Brown being swabbed for study (c) Stephanie Feigin

Little Brown being swabbed for study (c) Stephanie Feigin

Little Brown Bat (c) Stephanie Feigin

ENSP Biologist MacKenzie Hall with Little Brown Bat (c) Stephanie Feigin

Little Brown Bats (c) Stephanie Feigin

Little Brown Bats (c) Stephanie Feigin

Little Brown Bat (c) Stephanie Feigin

Little Brown Bat (c) Stephanie Feigin

Little Brown Bat shows significant signs of White Nose Syndrome on wings and nose (c) Stephanie Feigin

Little Brown Bat shows significant signs of White Nose Syndrome on wings and nose (c) Stephanie Feigin

CWF Wildlife Ecologist Stephanie Feigin holding Little Brown Bat (c) Stephanie Feigin

CWF Wildlife Ecologist Stephanie Feigin holding Little Brown Bat (c) Stephanie Feigin

Learn more:

 

Stephanie Feigin is a Wildlife Ecologist for the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

 

March 12th, 2015

Springtime Resources for New Jersey Educators

Environmental Education Workshops, Field Experiences and STEM Contests

By: Lindsay McNamara, Communications Coordinator

 

Green Eggs and Sand Curriculum Workshop

Picture1

A Green Eggs and Sand Curriculum Workshop will be held May 29-31 at the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor, Cape May County, New Jersey.

The workshop will delve into the ecological connections between horseshoe crabs and shorebirds, human connections to horseshoe crabs, and the challenges encountered in managing this resource via presentations, field trips and hands-on activities.


 

Sedge Island Summer Experiences

Kayaking at Sedge Island (c) Stephanie Feigin

Kayaking at Sedge Island (c) Stephanie Feigin

The Sedge Island Natural Resource Education Center offers week long experiences in the heart of Barnegat Bay.

Three programs will be offered in 2015:

  • Sedge Island Fishing Experience: June 25 to 28, 2015 open to students entering grades 8 and 9 in the fall of 2015. Application deadline is March 31.
  • Sedge Island Field Experience: July 28 to 31, 2015 open to students entering grades 7, 8, and 9 in the fall of 2015. Application deadline is March 20.
  • Sedge Island Field and Research Experience: July 8 to 14, 2015 for students entering grades 10 and 11 in the fall of 2015. Application deadline is April 17.

For more information, visit Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s website.


 

Species on the Edge 2.0 Multimedia Contest

An American kestrel. Photo courtesy of Jim Gilbert.

An American kestrel. Photo courtesy of Jim Gilbert.

The Species on the Edge 2.0 Multimedia Contest combines high school students’ expertise with technology and their love for nature. Students show why New Jersey’s wildlife is important by creating a video, app, podcast, webpage, or other multimedia project.

But best of all, its FREE and offers all New Jersey high school students the opportunity to win scholarship money!

Special thanks to Species on the Edge 2.0 Multimedia Contest sponsor PSE&G.

All entries are due before April 30, 2015.

For more information and to learn how to enter the contest visit our website.

Questions?
Contact Stephanie Feigin at stephanie.feigin@conservewildlifenj.org.

 

Lindsay McNamara is the Communications Coordinator for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

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