Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘CHANJ’

What’s Happening at Waterloo?

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

By Allegra Mitchell, CWF Biologist

 

Waterloo Village in Byram Township, Sussex County is more than a tourist attraction and local gem, it is also home to the largest cross-road amphibian migration in New Jersey. Each spring, frogs, toads, and salamanders stir from their hibernation to make their way to their breeding sites. Some of these sites, like the one at Waterloo, are vernal pools – small, temporary bodies of water that appear in early spring as snow melts and rain and groundwater gathers, and disappear throughout the summer as they evaporate. The ephemeral nature of these pools can’t support fish, which would prey on amphibian eggs and larvae. Vernal pools therefore provide some protection for amphibian offspring, with many species such as wood frogs and spotted and Jefferson salamanders – both of which are listed as New Jersey species of Special Concern – relying exclusively on these vernal pools for breeding.

 

 

The greatest challenge for amphibians breeding at Waterloo Historic Village is crossing Waterloo Road. Living in the most densely population state takes a toll on many species of wildlife in the form of habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation. Each year, many amphibians become victim to vehicular collision as they move from their hibernation sites across Waterloo Road to the vernal pool in which they reproduce. Amphibians may be disproportionately affected by vehicle-caused road mortalities compared to other wildlife because of their tendency to migrate en masse to breeding sites. These annual road mortalities can have devastating effects on amphibian population sizes, especially for the local at-risk salamander populations. In fact, as little as about 10% annual risk of road mortality in spotted salamanders can lead to the local extinction of an entire population.

 

Wood Frog eggs. Photo courtesy of MacKenzie Hall.

To address this problem, the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) and the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) organized amphibian rescue efforts. Since 2002, dedicated volunteers have assisted frogs, toads, and salamanders across Waterloo Road during the busiest migration nights. This aid has proven effective in reducing amphibian road mortalities, but it is not a permanent solution to the problem. Efforts are underway to construct under-road tunnels to help guide amphibians safely across Waterloo Road. These tunnels will provide safe passage for these critters throughout the breeding season, including on their migration back into the woods where they will hibernate. Since this return migration is more sporadic and less weather-dependent than migration to the vernal pool, it is much harder to protect amphibians as they make their way back to the forest.

 

 

This year, CWF scientists have begun the initial phases of research to understand current amphibian population sizes and the impact of vehicle traffic on these animals at Waterloo. Scientists and volunteers have been out 7 days a week since amphibian migrations began in late February to tally daily roadkill on Waterloo Road. This study will be used to evaluate changes to frog, toad, and salamander populations as the under-road amphibian tunnels are installed. CWF scientists have also conducted egg mass counts in the vernal pool at Waterloo Village to estimate the current population sizes of the different amphibian species in the area. Having this knowledge will allow CWF to improve on future projects to minimize road-related human-wildlife conflicts.

 

Spotted Salamander egg mass. Photo courtesy of MacKenzie Hall.

Along with improving conditions for amphibians in this location, CWF’s work at Waterloo Village will serve as an example of New Jersey statewide initiatives to reconnect wildlife habitat as a part of the Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey (CHANJ) program. The goal of CHANJ is to make our state landscapes more permeable to wildlife movement so that all of New Jersey’s residents – human and wildlife – will have the space they need to thrive.

 

In an effort to bring people and wildlife together in a positive way at Waterloo Village, CWF scientists are leading educational walks for the public and local schools. Through hands-on interaction, local residents can learn about and appreciate the remarkable wildlife right in their own back yards and what they can do to support conservation efforts.

 

All New Jerseyans can help wildlife this season by planting native plants for their gardens, building bat boxes where bats can roost, and, of course, by keeping an eye out on the roads, especially on warm, rainy nights when amphibians might be migrating.


LEARN MORE


Allegra Mitchell is a biologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

 

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.

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.

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