Conserve Wildlife Blog

Archive for the ‘Amphibians’ Category

Volunteers Wanted! Amphibian Crossing Project

Monday, February 8th, 2016
Interested in Helping Amphibians Cross the Road this Spring?

by Kelly Triece, Private Lands Biologist

Spotted Salamander Crosses a busy road to reach a nearby breeding pool. Photo by Kelly Triece

Spotted Salamander Crosses a busy road to reach a nearby breeding pool. Photo by Kelly Triece

Amphibians, our harbingers of spring, are soon to be calling in the swamps, pools and woodlands of New Jersey. Thousands of salamanders, frogs, and toads make short, stealthy migrations through the forest to breed and lay their eggs in breeding pools every spring.

 

However, vehicle mortality during amphibian migration season is a big issue for small animals like amphibians. A single vehicle can harm dozens of the slow-moving animals as they try to cross the road during migration. High traffic volumes can wipe out entire populations over time. For Conserve Wildlife Foundation biologists, this means we will be out on the roadways helping secure safe passage for these amphibians.

 

Since 2002, we have worked to protect early-spring breeding amphibians like the wood frog, spotted salamander, Jefferson salamander, and spring peeper during their annual migrations. Last year at our biggest Amphibian Crossing site, we assisted 2,684 Spring Peepers, 1,100 Spotted Salamanders, 270 American Toads, 139 Wood Frogs, 95 Jefferson Salamanders and 18 Red-spotted newts cross the road!

 

The Amphibian Crossing Project relies on volunteers like you. Amphibian migration is completely weather-dependent, but usually occurs between March and April, three-five nights a year. We work in evening shifts and scan the road for crossing amphibians, record species, and number of animals crossing.

 

If you are interested in volunteering with our Amphibian Crossing Project at locations in North Jersey, please contact Kelly Triece. Volunteers must be 18 years or older.

A volunteer assists in CWF Amphibian Crossing Project. Photo by Kelly Triece.

A volunteer assists in CWF Amphibian Crossing Project. Photo by Kelly Triece.

 

The Amphibian Crossing Project aims to secure funding for amphibian crossing tunnels at two priority sites. This is part of a larger effort led by the Division of Fish and Wildlife called Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey (CHANJ). CHANJ aims to identify key areas and actions needed for preserving and restoring habitat connectivity for terrestrial wildlife in New Jersey.  CHANJ has the potential to increase the sustainability of New Jersey’s terrestrial wildlife populations and de-list endangered species. #CHANJiscoming

 

Stay tuned as the amphibian attempts to cross the road once again!

 

Learn More:

 

Kelly Triece is the Private Lands Biologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Puzzle Pieces: Connecting Habitat for New Jersey’s Wildlife

Friday, February 5th, 2016
Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey (CHANJ) and Strategic Habitat Conservation

by Kelly Triece, Private Lands Biologist

A spotted salamander, photographed during a quiet moment along the road shoulder. © Brett Klaproth

A spotted salamander, photographed during a quiet moment along the road shoulder. © Brett Klaproth

In New Jersey and throughout the world, almost every ecosystem is under some degree of disturbance caused by human impact. In particular, urbanization and deforestation often have negative consequences on ecosystems because they typically lead to overall habitat loss. A reduction in available habitat creates habitat fragmentation, where an ecosystem becomes segmented and broken apart. Habitat fragmentation can have multiple negative effects on wildlife, including dispersal, genetic isolation, and community structure impacts. Here in New Jersey, wildlife species are up against steady urbanization and a dense network of roads compromising the connectivity of habitat and wildlife populations. Today, the state of New Jersey remains the most densely populated state in the country occupying about 39,000 miles of public roads.

Connectivity is vital for wildlife. Different color habitat patches represent different resources essential for survival. Lines represent possible corridors connecting patches.

Connectivity is vital for wildlife. Different color habitat patches represent different resources essential for survival. Lines represent possible corridors connecting patches.

In order to maintain diversity and sustain healthy wildlife populations, we must connect various fragmented habitats and wildlife communities. Animals need to be able to move through the landscape to find food, shelter, mates, and other resources. Without that ability to move, healthy populations cannot persist over the long term. In order to curb the effects of roads and habitat fragmentation, wildlife road crossing structures can be installed to reduce wildlife road mortality. In addition, wildlife habitat corridors can be prioritized for land management, restoration and acquisition.

Wildlife Crossing Tunnels like this along with fencing reduce wildlife road mortality ©Kelly Triece

Wildlife Crossing Tunnels like this along with fencing reduce wildlife road mortality © Kelly Triece

What is New Jersey doing to create habitat connectivity for our state’s diverse wildlife?

Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey (CHANJ) was formed in 2012 by the Division of Fish and Wildlife, with the vision of making our landscape and roadways more permeable to wildlife movement. CHANJ represents a blueprint for strategic habitat conservation that will identify key areas and the actions needed for preserving and restoring habitat connectivity for terrestrial wildlife in New Jersey. CHANJ has the potential to increase the sustainability of New Jersey’s terrestrial wildlife populations and de-list endangered species. Connecting populations of wildlife will improve gene flow and allow wildlife to move freely throughout the landscape.

 

How can you help?

  • Be mindful of wildlife while driving: Peak wildlife crossing season occurs in the spring and summer as wildlife travel to find food and mates. If wildlife such as amphibians and turtles are on the road, safely pull over and carry them to the shoulder in their direction of travel. Always be mindful of safety and do not attempt to handle any wildlife if you are not comfortable.
  • Create wildlife friendly backyard habitats: learn more on Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s website.

 

Kelly Triece is the Private Lands Biologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

CWF’s Online Field Guide Expands

Monday, January 25th, 2016
23 WILDLIFE SPECIES ADDED TO CWF’S ONLINE FIELD GUIDE

By Michael Davenport, GIS Program Manager

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ’s online field guide, a one-of-a-kind free reference focused on New Jersey’s wildlife, has recently expanded to include 23 additional species. As a result of recent status reviews by the state’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program for reptiles, amphibians, and butterflies, additional species within the state will be receiving an imperiled status of either Endangered, Threatened, or Special Concern. Six reptile species are being added as well as four amphibians and thirteen butterfly species.

Baltimore_Checkerspot_1

The Baltimore checkerspot, a species recently added to CWF’s on-line field guide. Photo courtesy of Eric C. Reuter.

Later this week, two additional blog entries will be posted regarding the status review process and the new listings. The posts will be: “Species Status Review process” (WEDNESDAY); and “How you can help fill-in data gaps” (FRIDAY).

The list of “new” species is below and each species name links to its field guide entry on our website:

REPTILES

AMPHIBIANS

BUTTERFLIES

New Jersey Tiger Season

Thursday, December 17th, 2015
Biologists and volunteers survey for New Jersey Eastern Tiger Salamanders

by Larissa Smith, biologist/volunteer manager

 

It’s the time of year when Conserve Wildlife Foundation biologists and volunteers along with Endangered and Nongame Species biologists start to survey for New Jersey’s “tigers,” and by tigers I don’t mean the big striped cats, we’re talking about the Eastern Tiger Salamanders. These large mole salamanders spend most of their life burrowed under the ground and in December begin to emerge to migrate to vernal pools and breed. Eastern Tiger Salamanders are endangered in New Jersey and only found in 15 pools in the most southern part of the state.

 

Last week dedicated volunteers Wayne Russell, John King and myself went out to check on a few known breeding pools.  The water level in the ponds was lower than usual due to the lack of rain, but John found an adult male in one of the pools.

Tiger Salamander found 12__9_15@ W. Russell

Tiger Salamander found 12/9/15 Photo by W. Russell

We were delighted to find a male in the pool so early in December. At another known breeding pool we found the partial remains of two Eastern Tiger Salamanders that had obviously been eaten by a predator. But the good news was that we also found two tiger salamander egg masses in the same pool.

 

Predation is just one of the challenges that these salamanders face. Tiger Salamanders themselves are targeted by collectors for the pet trade which is why their breeding locations are kept a secret. Their habitat is declining due to habitat loss and fragmentation, development, pollution, changes in hydrology, and climate change.

 

Learn More:

 

Larissa Smith is a wildlife biologist and volunteer manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

 

Meet the 2015 Honorees: MacKenzie Hall, Women & Wildlife Inspiration Award Winner

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015
Wildlife Biologist Celebrated for Inspiring Non-Scientists of All Ages to Become Passionate Conservationists

by Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

MacKenzie Hall, 2015 Women & Wildlife Inspiration Award Winner

MacKenzie Hall, 2015 Women & Wildlife Inspiration Award Winner

A powerful force behind the conservation of wildlife in New Jersey, MacKenzie Hall began working as a wildlife biologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation in 2004 and was been involved with projects spanning bat colonies, migrating amphibians, and grassland birds. What is most remarkable about Ms. Hall, however, is her ability to motivate the public to participate in these projects, inspiring non-scientists of all ages to become passionate conservationists.

 
Ms. Hall has supported and participated in bat research projects throughout the state. She took part in colony monitoring, mist-netting, and banding, working through many nights in order to benefit these enormously important species. In 2012, she launched a “Bats in Buildings” program offering New Jersey homeowners bat-friendly “eviction” resources, as well as free bat houses for displaced colonies.

 

In addition to her involvement in bat conservation, Ms. Hall is a passionate advocate for New Jersey’s amphibians and reptiles. She worked to address amphibian mortality on state roads, teaming up with working groups to help species of frogs and salamanders safely cross roads during their spring breeding season. She successfully coordinated amphibian surveys throughout the state, a task requiring road closures, the cooperation of multiple municipalities, the recruitment and training of volunteers, and the willingness to work outdoors overnight on cold, rainy nights!

 
In her work to implement conservation programs such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, Ms. Hall’s keen understanding of the process and positive attitude turned many farmers and landowners alike into dedicated environmental stewards.

 

Join us to honor MacKenzie and the two other 2015 Women & Wildlife Award Winners on Wednesday, October 28 beginning at 6pm. Purchase events tickets and find more information.


We asked MacKenzie a few questions about what working in wildlife conservation means to her:

 

What motivates you to get out of bed each morning and go to work?

So much to do!  Somehow the day always ends with more on the to-do list than it started with.  Working statewide means a lot of ground to cover, a lot of emails to answer, and a lot of people to convince that the bats in their eaves aren’t looking to murder their family.  Every day is a different adventure, even if I never leave my desk.  Days that I actually get to spend up-close with animals or see our work making a difference – like finding kestrel eggs in a nest box we put up for them, or cupping a beautiful salamander in my hands and moving her to the safe side of the road – those are the little moments of glory that make it all feel so simple.  It’s also really great to work with people who look at the world the same way I do, and who I can keep learning from.

 

What do you find most challenging about your profession?

Same answer as the last one, I think.  This is work that’s never done.  We rarely get to clap our hands together and say, “Ok, that species is saved, who’s next?”  Most of our successes take years and years, a lot of educating others, a lot of help from others, and endurance.

 

Name one thing you can’t live without.

Sunshine…summertime.  These crisp October days feel clean and refreshing, but I don’t want to close the windows and put a coat on!  I want to bask in the sun like a turtle.  I want sand that’s almost too hot to stand on.  I want to run around in a tank top and pick berries and stay out in the balmy night in flip-flops, with frogs screaming from the trees.

 

What interests you the most about New Jersey’s wildlife?

Most of them live at or near some interface with the human world, because so much of New Jersey is covered in our footprints.  We’ve got falcons on skyscrapers and shorebirds raising their chicks between houses and beach umbrellas.  And yah, colonies of bats living up in the eaves.  There’s a sense of sharing, because we’re all trying to make the most of our little spaces.  We have so many chances to connect and commune with wildlife on common ground, if we just pay attention and learn to share nice.

 

Name one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to change the world.

Figure out what you want the change to look like, and start with you.  Be a positive example for the people who are close to you, and they’ll help you pass it forward.  Don’t get too frustrated by the ones who don’t.


Please join us on Wednesday, October 28, 2015, from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. at Duke Farms in Hillsborough, New Jersey to honor the contributions that MacKenzie Hall, Tanya Oznowich, and Pat Hamilton have made to wildlife in New Jersey.

 

This year’s very special event will feature keynote speaker Governor Christine Todd Whitman. The event will also celebrate CWF’s past decade of honoring women for their success in protecting, managing, restoring, and raising awareness for the Garden State’s endangered and threatened wildlife species.

 

Learn more:

 

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