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An Amphibian Citizen Science Initiative by The Orianne Society

    Encountering Wood Frogs and Spotted Salamanders in the field is always exciting. Rolling a pond-side log to see the bright orange spots of a plump Spotted Salamander, or hearing the duck-like chuckling sounds of a sizeable Wood Frog chorus, are always memorable natural history experiences. For those of you who like to spend time outside visiting your local wetlands, here is an opportunity to make your observations count toward a scientific review of these species’ breeding patterns.

    The Orianne Society recently initiated “Snapshots in Time”, a long-term Citizen Science project aimed at mobilizing people to monitor the timing of Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) and Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) breeding throughout the respective ranges of these species. The purpose of this project is to use the data collected—by on-the-ground citizens, year-after-year—to investigate possible effects of climate change on the timing of reproduction. Determining changes in the timing of breeding is very important, not just for these species, but others that use the same habitat. Ultimately, the results of this project could allow us to inform land managers and development planners of important areas for conservation and look deeper into what other species in these ecosystems may be negatively affected by climate change, including some endangered species.

    “Snapshots in Time” is essentially a phenology project. Phenology is the study of periodic events in a plant or animal’s life cycle, such as breeding or migration, and how the timing of these events are influenced by changes in the climate. Phenology allows us to understand variations in breeding times, even in limited geographic areas or specific sites, to develop a range-wide picture of any shifts in the timing of breeding. Our objective is to collect your data long-term, so those that choose to participate in this project are encouraged to do so at the same sites year-after-year, when possible.

More information on this exciting project, and a link to on-line datasheets for those wanting to provide observations, can be found at The Orianne Society webpage.

Thank you,

Stephen Spear and Dirk Stevenson, The Orianne Society

Have you seen Spotted Salamanders and Wood Frogs near your house?