Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Amphibians’

Connecting Habitat: Waterloo Road

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016
Conserve Wildlife Foundation Releases New Amphibian Crossing Story Map

by Kelly Triece, Wildlife Biologist

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

Farewell to May — also known as Wetlands Month! As a final ode to Wetlands Month, Conserve Wildlife Foundation would like to share a story about a very special wetland! Please check out our latest Story Map: “Connecting Habitat: Waterloo Road.” This story map shares the story about a vernal pool wetland that is located at Waterloo Village History Site in Byram Township, Sussex County, New Jersey.

WaterlooRoadStoryMapScreenshot

This vernal pool wetland, as depicted in the Story Map, is a breeding ground for thousands of amphibians. However, each spring these amphibians must cross the heavily trafficked Waterloo Road in order to reach the pool. A single vehicle can crush dozens of the slow-moving animals as they try to cross the road during migration. High enough traffic volumes can wipe out entire populations over time.

 

Since 2002, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey has worked to protect early-spring breeding amphibians like the wood frog, spotted salamander, Jefferson salamander, and spring peeper during their annual migrations through the Amphibian Crossing Project. On peak nights each spring, we work with a fleet of incredible volunteers to hustle amphibians across the road at rescue sites, collect data on the numbers and species seen, measure the impacts of vehicular traffic, and document additional amphibian crossings for future protection.

 

This is our 2016 Waterloo Road Amphibian Crossing Report:

  • Spotted Salamander: 334
  • Jefferson Salamander: 147
  • Wood Frog: 215
  • Spring Peeper: 255
  • American Toad: 479
  • Pickerel Frog: 2
  • TOTAL Amphibians: 1,432

 

The Amphibian Crossing Project aims to secure funding for amphibian crossing tunnels at Waterloo Road. This project 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 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. #CHANJiscoming #CHANJ

 

We hope you enjoy our Story Map, Connecting Habitat: Waterloo Road!

 

Learn More:

 

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

Exploration of An Ecosystem That Most People Will Never See

Thursday, May 5th, 2016
CWF Vernal Pool Walks Connect New Jersey Residents with Rare, Seasonal Marvel

by Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

AndreaProctor_SpringPeeper

Spring Peeper photo by Andrea Proctor.

We all know that “April showers bring May flowers,” but the earlier rains of March stir up beauties of a different kind. When the first spring raindrops hit the barely-thawed ground and night falls on the forest, frogs, salamanders, and toads emerge from their winter burrows. These amphibians – the spotted salamanders, wood frogs, spring peepers, and others – are anxious to get to their breeding pools and lay their eggs. The waters that they choose are called vernal pools because they fill with rainwater, snowmelt, and rising groundwater in early spring but then dry up as summer advances. The pools are thus temporary and cannot support fish, meaning fewer predators for the amphibian eggs and young.

In the northeastern United States, vernal pools are home to over 500 species. In New Jersey, these pools are critical habitat for amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates, migratory waterfowl, raptors, and songbirds. All 14 of New Jersey’s frog species use vernal pools to breed and two endangered salamander species breed exclusively in vernal pools, including Cape May’s eastern tiger salamander.

The new generation of amphibians must race to complete metamorphosis and leave the vernal pool before the water does. Under perfect conditions of warm, thawing, nighttime rains, there may be hundreds or even thousands of amphibians moving at once toward the same breeding pool. The darkness and the rain allow them to move stealthily over the landscape, hidden from predators like the owl and raccoon.

 

CWF’s Kelly Triece organized a series of walks through the vernal pools of Waterloo Village in Sussex County, New Jersey, and showed residents the unexpected creatures swimming in the pool’s shallow waters. Kelly led the exploration of an ecosystem that most people will never see! Participants listened to the songs of Spring Peepers and discovered salamander eggs, fairy shrimp, and other unique creatures as the evenings set in. Here are photos from her walks:

CWF biologist Kelly Triece educates participants on the natural resources of Waterloo.

CWF biologist Kelly Triece educates participants on the natural resources of Waterloo.

CWF biologist Kelly Triece looking for wildlife in the vernal pool.

CWF biologist Kelly Triece looking for wildlife in the vernal pool.

 

Spotted Salamander Eggs! Photo by Kelly Triece.

Spotted Salamander Eggs! Photo by Kelly Triece.

 

Green Frog photo by Kelly Triece.

Green Frog photo by Kelly Triece.

 

Examining the wildlife found in the vernal pool after dark.

Examining the wildlife found in the vernal pool after dark.

 

 

 

Learn More:

 

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

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.

How You Can Help Fill-in Data Gaps

Friday, January 29th, 2016
YOUR WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS CAN HELP INFORM NEW JERSEY’S BIOLOGISTS

By Michael Davenport, GIS Program Manager

Compared with most of the states within the United States, New Jersey is relatively small in area. However, it is still too large for biologists within New Jersey’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) to survey every inch of the state for rare species at all times. Therefore, ENSP has created a Rare Wildlife Sighting Report Form with which any bird watcher, hiker, fisherman, and anyone else with knowledge on how to identify New Jersey’s rare wildlife, may submit information on rare species which they may have come across in their travels. This information assists ENSP biologists in monitoring their species’ numbers and whereabouts and may aid in targeting areas for future surveys. Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) staff work very closely with ENSP to encourage the public to submit their observational data and then process the information which gets submitted.

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

The first step in reporting rare species sightings is to first determine whether the species you observed is a species which is tracked. Tracked species are those listed in New Jersey as endangered, threatened, or special concern. The lists of these species can be found on these ENSP’s websites:  endangered & threatened species and special concern species.

The greatest need for data is for those species which are new to the proposed list of endangered, threatened, or special concern species. Because they did NOT previously have an imperiled status, they have largely been ignored in terms of survey effort and/or data acquisition. At the current time, there is a great need for data regarding observations of the following species:

Reptiles

Amphibians

Butterflies

Once you have determined that you observed a rare species, the next step is to complete a Rare Wildlife Sighting Report Form. You may complete one of these forms if you made the observation yourself – second-hand observations or information whose source was a report, letter, conversation, or other document will not be accepted. Also, one form must be completed per species. Thus, if you observe a heron rookery comprised of great blue herons, tricolor herons, and snowy egrets, then three sighting report forms may be submitted.

Rare Wildlife Sighting Report Forms are available for download and/or printing here. Part of the process of completing the form is to submit a map of the location where the animal was observed. This is critically important for reasons to be discussed later. The preferred map to submit is an aerial image of the area which you have marked with the animal’s location; however, a topographic map is also acceptable. Aerial images may be accessed via Google maps. Topographic maps can be accessed here. In addition to the form and map, it is also extremely helpful if you can submit at least one photograph of the animal in order for an ENSP biologist to verify the identification of the species.

In 2016, the NJ Endangered & Nongame Advisory Committee approved that the rough green snake be added to the state's list of Special Concern species. © Keara R. Giannotti

In 2016, the NJ Endangered & Nongame Advisory Committee approved that the rough green snake be added to the state’s list of Special Concern species. © Keara R. Giannotti

After you mail in your form and map to ENSP, CWF or ENSP staff will enter it into their tracking database at which point it will receive an Observation ID number. You will then receive an e-mail acknowledging receipt of your form and providing you with your Observation ID number in the event you wish to follow-up with additional information or inquire as to whether the biologist has reviewed your form.

The form then goes to a CWF or ENSP biologist who will evaluate it to determine whether it is a valid sighting and whether it should be integrated into the next version of ENSP’s Landscape Project. This is why receiving accurate locational information along with the sighting report form is crucial. The Landscape Project is a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) product whereby critical areas are identified for imperiled species based upon species locations as well as land-use classifications. The resulting maps enable state, county, municipal, and private agencies to identify important habitats and protect them in a variety of ways. This information is even utilized to regulate land-use in the state and attempt to preserve whatever endangered and threatened species habitat remains in New Jersey.

A common misperception many New Jersey nature watchers have is, if they happen to report their rare species sightings to institutions such as Audubon or Cornell (e-bird), that information will make its way to the state’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program. That is not the case. ENSP needs you to submit your data directly to them. So, please, become a Citizen Scientist and assist both CWF and ENSP in tracking New Jersey’s rare species, in the hopes that our work can prevent them from becoming rarer.

If you have collected a large amount of data and submitting it via multiple Sighting Report Forms may be too time consuming, please contact Mike Davenport, CWF’s GIS Program Manager, at Michael.davenport@dep.nj.gov Other options exist for data submittal (Excel spreadsheets for example) so long as all of the required information is included.

Three New Jersey Women Recognized at Tenth Annual Women & Wildlife Awards

Friday, October 30th, 2015
MacKenzie Hall, Pat Hamilton, Tanya Oznowich honored at Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s 10th Annual Women & Wildlife Awards

by Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

The Honorable Christine Todd Whitman with past and present Women & Wildlife Award winners, representing a decade of strong female leaders in wildlife conservation. From left to right: Dr. Erica Miller, Edith Wallace, Linda Tesauro, Kathy Clark, Amy S. Greene, the Honorable Christine Todd Whitman, Pat Hamilton, MacKenzie Hall, Tanya Oznowich, and Diane Nickerson.

The Honorable Christine Todd Whitman with past and present Women & Wildlife Award winners, representing a decade of strong female leaders in wildlife conservation. From left to right: Dr. Erica Miller, Edith Wallace, Linda Tesauro, Kathy Clark, Amy S. Greene, the Honorable Christine Todd Whitman, Pat Hamilton, MacKenzie Hall, Tanya Oznowich, and Diane Nickerson.

 

Our Tenth Annual Women & Wildlife Awards, held at Duke Farms, recognized three women – MacKenzie Hall, Pat Hamilton, and Tanya Oznowich – for their leadership in protecting wildlife in New Jersey. The Honorable Christine Todd Whitman served as the keynote speaker.

 

The Women & Wildlife Awards celebrated Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s past decade of honoring women for their success in protecting, managing, restoring, and raising awareness for the Garden State’s endangered and imperiled wildlife species.

 

“The inspiring leadership of MacKenzie Hall, Pat Hamilton, and Tanya Oznowich not only benefits New Jersey’s wildlife and the countless people who care strongly for our outdoors – it provides successful role models for the next generation of girls in scientific fields that have for too long held a glass ceiling for young women,” said CWF Executive Director David Wheeler. “Their unparalleled dedication and hard work – like that of the Women & Wildlife honorees over the past decade – has helped make New Jersey a national leader in wildlife conservation.”

 

The three honorees were recognized individually with awards in Inspiration, Leadership, and Education:

MacKenzie Hall, a powerful force behind the conservation of wildlife in New Jersey, who began working as a wildlife biologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation in 2004 before joining the Endangered and Nongame Species Program in 2014, is the recipient of the Women & Wildlife Inspiration Award. She has been involved in a number of projects spanning bat colonies, migrating amphibians, and grassland birds.

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 into dedicated environmental stewards. What may be most remarkable about Ms. Hall is her ability to motivate the public and inspire non-scientists of all ages to become passionate conservationists.

 

Women & Wildlife Leadership Award Winner Pat Hamilton has worked for the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries since 1980. She is considered to be the champion for Eastern brook trout, the state’s only native salmonid, and a species once extirpated from over 50% of its historical habitat due to human impacts.

Ms. Hamilton is one of three fisheries biologists in New Jersey endeavoring to strengthen the state regulations to further conserve native brook trout streams. Thanks to her efforts, more than 200 northern New Jersey streams have been designated as Trout Production Streams, which afford the streams higher levels of state protection.

 

The recipient of the Women & Wildlife Education Award is Tanya Oznowich, Environmental Education Supervisor of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, who has championed environmental education for over three decades.

Schools across New Jersey are incorporating environmental education into their curriculum, a new movement inspired by a growing awareness of environmental issues and our shared role in understanding and resolving them. To a large degree, this growing prominence is thanks to Tanya Oznowich. She has been engaging the public in natural resources since 1979. Since beginning her tenure with the NJDEP in 1988, she has dedicated herself to integrating environmental science into New Jersey’s classrooms, from kindergarten to college.

 

The Tenth Annual Women & Wildlife Awards, held on Wednesday, October 28 at Duke Farms in Hillsborough, New Jersey, included a presentation of the awards to the recipients, hors d’oeuvres, cash bar and a silent auction.

 

Learn More:

 

We gratefully thank our generous Eagle Sponsors who made the Women & Wildlife Awards possible: PSEG, Atlantic City Electric, Janice King and Bill Masonheimer, and Eric Sambol.

 

 

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