Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Conserve Wildlife Foundation’

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 .

The (Bergen) Record spotlights a backyard birding favorite

Monday, February 12th, 2018

 

Just in time for next week’s Great Backyard Bird Count, The (Bergen) Record’s Jim Wright takes a look at the hairy woodpecker with help from CWF Executive Director David Wheeler. This backyard birdwatching favorite is still a common sight on many New Jersey feeders and tree trunks, but remains vulnerable nationally due to its nesting reliance on old tree snags.

Read the article here:

https://www.northjersey.com/story/entertainment/2018/02/07/bird-watcher-wonderful-world-hairy-woodpecker/1047289001/

CWF Scientists Follow At-Risk Migratory Shorebirds to Tierra del Fuego

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

by Stephanie Feigin, Wildlife Ecologist

 

Over the past two years, our team, with the help of funding from the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, has worked to create critical habitat maps and detailed threat maps for at-risk shorebird species in Northern Brazil and in Tierra Del Fuego, Chile. These projects have established the foundation for conservation planning in these important wintering areas for migratory shorebirds like red knots.

 

Brazil:

Two years ago, our team began working in Northern, Brazil covering the Atlantic coastline of both Pará and Maranhão state between Belém and São Luís. Our team conducted two successful excursions to Brazil taking point count surveys of wading shorebirds collecting approximately 44,700 individual bird sightings to add to the database our team created for the critical habitat maps (Figures 1 & 2).

Figure 2. Results from the 2017 point count survey

                    Figure 1. Results from the 2016 point count survey

 

David Santos and Larry Niles conduct point sampling surveys in Maranhão Brazil.

We conducted surveys using point count methods using fixed radius plots positioned along transects, with all wading birds counted within the 250m radius. Transects were conducted by either walking or while in a boat across various tidal stages and a variety of habitat types including mangrove creeks, sand flats, mudflats and beaches.

 

 

 

Brazil Team: Carla Meneguin,
Paulo Siqueira, Ana Paula Sousa, Larry Niles, Juliana Almeida, Carmem Fedrizzi Joe Smith, Stephanie Feigin, Yann Rochepault, Laura Reis and Christophe Buiden (photo by Juliana Almeida)

 

 

 

Our team then created threat maps of the region from coastal development, mining operations, offshore drilling, and shrimp farming to help inform future conservation planning and mitigate impacts of these activities to the critical shorebird habitat in the region.

 

Chile:

This year, with a second round of funding, our team conducted work in Tierra Del Fuego, Chile to create critical habitat and detailed threat maps for Bahia Lomas in Chile. Bahia Lomas is both a globally significant RAMSAR wetlands site and a Western Hemisphere shorebird site of hemispheric importance.  

 

Shorebirds in Bahia Lomas

Historically, Bahía Lomas and nearby Rio Grande supported wintering populations of 67,000 red knots –  the largest wintering area for knots in the Western Hemisphere. In the last 30 years, however, the population has declined to less than 15,000 knots in Bahía Lomas and the population in Rio Grande is functionally extinct (Morrison et al 1989).

 

 

Aerial Survey over Bahia Lomas

 

 

 

This January our team conducted surveys along the coast of Bahia Lomas to understand distribution of shorebird species within the region, using the same sampling methods, study key roosting and feeding habitats, and delineate critical habitat and threats to the region to inform future conservation and minimize impacts to shorebird populations.

 

Team in Chile including Ross Wood, Stu Mackenzie, Carmen Espoz, Larry Niles, Joe Smith, Yann Rochepault, Christophe Buidin, Antonio Larrea, Richard Lathrop, Stephanie Feigin and Amanda Dey.

Over two weeks our team of New Jerseyans and Canadians conducted point-count sampling surveys throughout the bay with large assistance from our partners from Universidad Santo Tomás in Chile to determine key habitats. Additionally, our team conducted four aerial surveys to get species distribution counts on a large scale of the whole bay at various tide stages, as well as a helicopter survey to continue the population counts of the region done by Dr. Guy Morrison. Finally, our partners with the Universidad Santo Tomás conducted marine invertebrate sampling surveys. These data will be combined to aid in the creation of a GIS mapping system that can identify the most important shorebird habitats in the region.

 

 

 

 

 

In the next few months our team will use these data and overlay them with threat mapping to determine the critical habitats undergoing the greatest threats.  This project is designed set the stage for proactive conservation planning that will mitigate future threats and will hopefully uncover the source of ongoing declines to the shorebirds in this region.

Citation:

 

Morrison R.I.G. & Ross R.K. (1989) Atlas of Nearctic shorebirds on the coast of South America. Canadian Wildlife Service Ottawa (Canada).

 

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.

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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…)