Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘amphibian’

Crossed One Off the Bucket List

Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

by Christine Healy, Wildlife Biologist

Every January, once the confetti has settled from the new year’s celebration, I start thinking a lot about amphibians and preparing for their springtime migration. That behavior, however, is not collectively adopted by all of our local frogs and salamanders. Different species have found different ways to adapt to the challenges of a complex lifecycle that relies on environmental factors to inform physiological changes. Wood frogs, as well as spotted and Jefferson salamanders, have conformed to an early spring breeding strategy. Once the ground thaws and snow melt has raised the water level in vernal pools, they are on the move. Since amphibians in temperate climates hibernate (or more correctly, brumate – the “cold-blooded” equivalent), you might think that their appearance in February and March means that they lead the pack. While this seems a reasonable assumption, it’s actually incorrect.

A close up of an adult Eastern tiger salamander

Salamanders already on the move

Sunday, February 18th, 2018

by David Wheeler

Photo by David Moskowitz

The salamanders and frogs in East Brunswick got an early start to their migration season by crossing this week on February 15. David Moskowitz found spotted salamanders, wood frogs, dozens of spring peepers, and one wood frog crossing the temporarily closed section of Beekman Road in the early evening rain.

“This is the earliest they’ve ever moved – by about a week – in the 12 years I’ve been closing the road,” said Moskowitz.

East Brunswick has closed the road for a few nights each late winter/early spring when conditions are just right. While all amphibian species are vulnerable, spotted salamanders are a species of special concern in New Jersey.


Photo by David Moskowitz

Conserve Wildlife Foundation partners with certain municipalities and the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program on salamander crossings in northern New Jersey. This is a key initiative among CWF’s amphibian projects.

The East Brunswick crossing offers the best opportunity for the public to take part and see these salamanders and frogs up close. Check their website for the next expected crossing and share the road with a salamander!

CWF’s Online Field Guide Expands

Monday, January 25th, 2016

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.


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:




NJ’s Frogs And Toads Are “Calling” For Your Help!

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015
Volunteers Wanted for CAMP project

By: Larissa Smith, Wildlife Biologist/Volunteer Manager with Conserve Wildlife Foundation

Northern Gray Treefrog @ M. Patterson

Northern Gray Treefrog @ M. Patterson

It’s the heart of the winter season and cold outside, so the furthest thing from your mind is hearing the calls of New Jersey’s frogs and toads. But now is the time when we start getting ready for the Calling Amphibian Project (CAMP) and thinking ahead to the spring of 2015.


The object of CAMP is to assess the distribution, abundance, and health of New Jersey’s amphibians. This is part of a larger initiative called the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program (NAAMP) and the data collected in New Jersey will be submitted into the National database. Volunteers participating in this project will be asked to conduct roadside surveys (after dusk) for calling amphibians along designated routes throughout the state. Each 15-mile route with ten stops will be surveyed three times during the Spring and a structured protocol will be followed to determine which nights to survey, how long to survey, which species are calling, and how to estimate the total number of individuals calling at each site.


In 2014, 24 volunteers participated in CAMP and surveyed a total of 23 routes out of 63. We have many dedicated long-term CAMP volunteers. Unfortunately due to different circumstances some can no longer participate so we currently have 37 routes available for the 2015 survey season. If you are interested in learning more about this project, contact Larissa Smith.


This year we will be holding a meeting for CAMP  volunteers in January. The meeting will be a good opportunity to meet other volunteers and the biologists who work on the this project and other amphibian projects. Biologists from CWF, the state ENSP and DLUR will be there to discuss  the two “new” NJ frog species and how CAMP data is being used by the state.

Morning After Migration

Friday, April 5th, 2013


by MacKenzie Hall, Amphibian Crossing Project Coordinator


Karen Ruzycki gives a salamander a lift.  Photo: M. Hall

Karen Ruzycki gives a salamander a lift. Photo: M. Hall

Easter Sunday is a celebration of rebirth, resurrection, springtime, life.  And this Easter Sunday – right on cue – a warm day turned into a mild night, the mild night met with rain, and together they gave rise to lots and lots of life.   The amphibian migration was underway…in a big way!


Our teams were ready.  Despite heavy bellies and a long day with family, at least 50 trained volunteers came out to “guard” the animals at road-crossing hot spots.  From nightfall to around 11:00 pm we escorted, ferried, and tallied more than 3,000 salamanders and frogs across! (Numbers are still coming in from other teams.)


American toad in transit.  Photo: Karen Ruzycki

American toad in transit. Photo: Karen Ruzycki

It was a heart-pounding pace, often with multiple animals entering the roadway at once.  They didn’t seem to understand the danger, but we humans were darting in and out, racing against car tires and grabbing up slippery critters as fast as slippery critters can be grabbed…while still being safe, orderly, and polite to passing motorists.  A lot of drivers stopped to see what all the speed-walking was about.  One woman said “God bless!” when I showed her a fat female spotted salamander and told her about the migration.  Another guy must have been a local because he just asked “how many tonight?”


Everyone had an exhilarating night – the kind of migration night we plan for but don’t often get.  It was a lot of fun and we saved a lot of lives.  From the vehicle count, most of those little animals wouldn’t have stood a chance.  A few still didn’t.

Before heading home from the site where I was working, I took a midnight stroll down to the vernal pool.  It’s so neat to watch salamanders swimming around.  Especially the big spotted salamanders.  They spend almost their entire year underground in the woods, yet they are graceful and natural in the water.  They even look excited to be there, swirling around each other in contest and attraction.  I felt lucky to know about this wonderful thing.  It felt great to have made some of it possible.  Look at those gorgeous animals!  And their impossibly bright yellow spots!  They are colors lost in the night, but not by our watchful lights.

They made it!  Spotted salamanders in the pool.  Photo: M. Hall

They made it! Spotted salamanders in the pool. Photo: M. Hall