Conserve Wildlife Blog

Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

New Year brings a new amphibian!

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

by Allegra Mitchell, Wildlife Biologist

 

Each New Year promises an exciting year ahead, and conservation science is no exception! As biologists gear up for the field season, CWF’s amphibian programs are particularly noteworthy.

 

Our Amphibian Crossing Project has made major strides in protecting the frogs, toads, and salamanders migrating to breeding areas, and we’re launching a new program this year to better document the newly discovered mid-Atlantic coast leopard frog. You can help CWF biologists collect data and save these fragile creatures.

 

Read below for more details about each program. In the meantime, if you would like to support CWF’s amphibian programs, please visit our YouCaring page here: https://www.youcaring.com/conservewildlifefoundationofnewjersey-1091698 . Your contribution will help us develop training materials and cover research expenses to protect our most vulnerable frogs and salamanders!

 

Amphibian Crossing: A New Twist on an Old Program

The long-standing Amphibian Crossing Project, established in partnership with the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) in 2002, has been organizing dedicated volunteers each spring to chauffer migrating amphibians across roads as they trek from their upland hibernation sites to their breeding ponds. This program has saved thousands of frogs, toads, and salamanders from vehicle strikes so that local amphibian population sizes can be maintained, which is especially important for species of concern, such as the Jefferson and spotted salamanders.

 

Seeking a more long-term solution to the amphibian road mortality problem at the Amphibian Crossing Project’s top site, ENSP has finally secured funding to construct crossing structure system for amphibians to move safely across Waterloo Road in Byram Township, Sussex County. This system, including under-road tunnels and guide fencing, will help amphibians avoid problems on the road all season long. CWF is preparing its second year of monitoring along Waterloo Road to track the changes in amphibian vehicle-caused mortality before and after this system is installed.

 

Leopard Frogs: A New Program for a New Species

This year marks the launch of CWF’s Kauffeld’s Calling Frogs program. Similar to New Jersey’s Calling Amphibian Monitoring Program (CAMP), volunteers will listen and document frog calls during the breeding season. Kauffeld’s Calling Frogs, however, will focus specifically on the newly discovered mid-Atlantic coast leopard frog. This frog, named after the late avid herpetologist Carl Kauffeld, had been mistaken as a member of the southern leopard frog species for decades. Only recently was it determined to be a separate species with unique habitat requirements.

 

Despite only being an official species since 2014, it is already considered a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in New York, and may be declining from other portions of its range. CWF biologists are eager to document the current extent of this frog’s range within New Jersey in order to monitor the population for possible declines. Knowing where this species is found is the foundation for future research into its habitat needs and threats.

 

Getting the Public Involved

These amphibian programs cannot move forward without the dedication of CWF volunteers. Over 100 volunteers have been involved with the Amphibian Crossing Project, and a dozen more dedicated at least a day a week for months to monitor Waterloo Road amphibian mortality. With the success of CAMP in mind, this first year of Kauffeld’s Calling Frogs promises to be full of new frog population discoveries.

 

Make sure to follow CWF on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest updates on our amphibian programs as the season progresses!

 

And consider supporting our YouCaring amphibian campaign here: https://www.youcaring.com/conservewildlifefoundationofnewjersey-1091698 .

Piping Plovers in the Bahamas

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Our Work isn’t Done – the Ongoing Importance of Band Resighting

 By Todd Pover, Senior Wildlife Biologist

Earlier in January, I attended the Abaco Science Alliance Conference to make a presentation about recent conservation and research developments for piping plovers in the Bahamas. This marks the eighth year, starting in 2011, either solo or with CWF staff and other colleagues, that I have been able to follow piping plovers to their wintering grounds in the Bahamas to conduct work to better understand and help recover this at-risk species. And in another sense, to be an international ambassador for piping plovers.

Todd Pover, CWF Senior Biologist, busy searching for piping plovers on the flats in the Bahamas

Over that time, the focus of those trips has varied widely, including conducting surveys for the International Piping Plover Census in 2011 and 2016, improving our understanding of how piping plovers use the various habitats, engaging students with our Shorebird Sister School Network from 2014-17, helping Friends of the Environment, our primary partner there, integrate piping plovers into their educational/school programs, building conservation partnerships, and even producing a video. Tremendous positive changes have occurred in that time with regard to awareness of and attitudes towards piping plovers in the Bahamas and some significant conservation progress has been made, most notably the establishment of several new national parks by the Bahamian government that help protect piping plovers and other shorebirds.

(more…)

The Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog – Uncovering the past

Sunday, January 7th, 2018

by Taylor Forster, GIS Intern

©Brian R.Curry

On a Tuesday morning, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey biologist Allegra Mitchell and I, GIS Intern Taylor Forster, went to the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton. We were looking at a newly identified species recently found in one of the largest metropolitan areas – New York! I learned that this species was discovered because of its unique “call.” A “call” is the sound a male frog makes to attract a female frog, and each frog species’ call is unique. It seems that this species remained undiscovered for so long because of its similar appearance to other, closely-related leopard frog species. The cryptic nature of this new species meant that the only noticeable distinction between it and other leopard frogs was the sound it makes.

After looking at this newly discovered frog, now known as the mid-Atlantic coast leopard frog, a few defining characteristics came to light that set it apart from the other leopard frogs. These characteristics make it easier to identify other mid-Atlantic coast leopard frogs that have been preserved and categorized as other species for museum collections. With this information in mind, Ms. Mitchell and I were at the New Jersey State Museum to investigate when and where this frog had been found throughout the state before anyone realized its significance. (more…)

CWF education leadership highlights NJEA Review cover story

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

by David Wheeler, CWF Executive Director

CWF’s innovative environmental education program served as the cover story for the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) Review, a monthly magazine that reaches over 200,000 subscribers, including every public school teacher in the state. The story, written by education director Stephanie DAlessio and executive director David Wheeler, highlights CWF’s singular approach to environmental education, which meets NGSS standards by melding experiential learning with scientific observation and hypothesis testing about nature’s phenomena via wildlife webcams and other online resources, all based on educational theory.  (more…)

Costume parade and live wildlife highlight Leonardo Nature Center grand opening

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

by David Wheeler

Witches, ghosts, ghouls, bats – and even dogs in costume – helped celebrate the grand opening of the new Nature Center, a partnership between Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) and the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry.

Over 200 people visited Leonardo State Marina on a gorgeous autumn afternoon to enjoy the Halloween costume contest, pet parade, pumpkin painting, and light refreshments.

 

Yet the tiniest creature of all may have been the most memorable –

CWF Wildlife Ecologist Stephanie Feigin teaches children about the big brown bat.

a live big brown bat. CWF wilflife ecologist Stephanie Feigin showed the rapt families the unique adaptations that allow bats to fly, roost, and use sonar, as well as the surprising skeletal similarity between a bat’s wing and a human hand.

 

Maggie Mitchell, Superintendent at Leonardo State Marina, had this to say, “The Marina’s new Nature Center and partnership with Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ will provide continued education to the Bayshore Area and expand on our presence in the community, many residents were grateful for this event and we look forward to hosting additional events in the future.”

Stephanie Feigin, CWF wildlife ecologist, Stephanie DAlessio, CWF Education Director, and Maggie Mitchell, Superintendent at Leonardo State Marina.

 

This partnership is designed to educate the public about important coastal habitat and diverse wildlife species that utilize the Raritan Bayshore area.  The grand opening allowed visitors of the center to get up close and personal with both local species like diamondback terrapins, and invasive species like the red eared slider. In addition to those two turtle species, the Nature Center also hosts a corn snake, bearded dragon, touch tanks and other activities for children to enjoy.

 

“Children and adults alike are often amazed to find out some of the wildlife species that live right in their backyards and neighborhoods – and now our Nature Center allows visitors to experience those incredible animals up close,” said CWF Director of Education, Stephanie DAlessio. “We are so excited to create a new generation of environmental stewards to help protect our coastal habitat and the wildlife that shares it with us – all while having fun connecting local families to nature.”

 

Just south of New York City, New Jersey’s Raritan Bayshore hosts an impressive wildlife diversity for such a densely populated metropolitan area. Leonardo State Marina is located in the Leonardo section of Middletown in Monmouth County, west of Sandy Hook and just north of Route 36.

 

The Nature Center is open daily from 10 am to 3 pm, with extended hours until 6 pm on Fridays. CWF and Leonardo State Marina also offer school field trips, summer programs, and special events throughout the year.

You can learn more about the Nature Center at or to inquire about school or community programs, call 732-291-2986 or email Stephanie DAlessio at Stephanie.dalessio@conservewildlifenj.org.

 

 

David Wheeler is the Executive Director of Conserve Wildlife Foundation and the author of Wild New Jersey: Nature Adventures in the Garden State.

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