Opportunities / Science

Amphibians on the Move – Watch Out!

Spring is the time of awakening. Animals and insects start moving and plants begin to revive. It may not feel like it, but it’s warming up outside. A few species in particular begin migrating when it’s warm, around 40° F. That might not feel warm to us, but it’s the ideal temperature for frogs and salamanders to begin moving to their summer habitat. Moving from the highlands where they spend the winter to the water where they spend their summer, they usually encounter roads. You can imagine who wins when its spring peeper vs. Subaru impreza.

A spring peeper illuminated by flashlights on Pond Road.

A spring peeper illuminated by flashlights on Pond Road.

To aid in their journey across the treacherous landscape a group of ECO AmeriCorps members ventured into a rainy and “warm” Monday evening to help as many amphibians as possible get across the road. The ideal location for these amphibian migrations is near a road with a wetland and pond near one side, and forested area on the other. We went to Pond Road in Shelburne.

The North Branch Nature Center, NBNC, Amphibian Monitoring Program has all of the information needed to become a citizen scientist and collect data, and help these wonderful organisms, survive and live another day in their natural habitat. With our data sheets, headlamps, and raincoats, we went to the location suggested by the NBNC and parked on the corner of Frog’s End and Pond Road.

Within the first few yards we stumbled upon our first amphibian of the night, a spring peeper. You have probably heard these little frogs before. We also found some wood frogs. While we saw more alive frogs, we also stumbled upon some that lost the battle with a tire. It wasn’t pretty. In total we saw an even amount of wood frogs, nine dead and nine alive. The spring peepers were well represented with 72 successful crossings to 12 on the road.

It felt good to help the 81 amphibians we encountered Monday night. They really don’t stand a chance against our vehicles. Drive slow and keep an eye out for frogs and salamanders.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer to assist our four-legged friends in their dangerous journey check out the North Branch Nature Center for more information.