Annual Citizen Science Project explores the frogs, toads and salamanders of Pinedale area
Seeking volunteers to survey catchments to find amphibians
by University of Wyoming’s Biodiversity Institute
May 9, 2015
When you hear a ribbit, you know the fun is about to begin. The Rocky Mountain Amphibian Project, now in its second year, is a citizen science program in Wyoming focused on searching for, identifying and tracking frogs, toads and salamander in the state, through the help of the public and agency biologists. The program is seeking volunteers in the Pinedale area to sign up for surveying catchments (sets of ponds, streams or lakes) in the Bridger Teton National Forest, to see which amphibians they find hopping around.
Amphibians are animals that start their lives in the water as tadpoles or larvae and live their adult lives on land as frogs, toads or salamanders. They are known to be in major decline all over the world, yet there is very little known about which species exist where and how populations are faring in Wyoming.
The Rocky Mountain Amphibian Project seeks to better understand how well Wyoming’s amphibians are reproducing and surviving in our modern times. The project will collect data to look at population trends in amphibian species in Wyoming, so that land managers and agency biologists can prioritize their conservation efforts based on scientific evidence.
The project is currently underway in the Medicine Bow National Forest in southeastern Wyoming and the Bridger- Teton National Forest in northwestern Wyoming.
The first year of the program was highly successful. Over 75 volunteers, all working in pairs or groups, surveyed 90 sites and found over 550 individual amphibians. In three locations, citizen scientists found frog species that had not be known to exist at that site before.
People interested in participating in this project can start by visiting the project website, www.toadtrackers.org. They can peruse the menu of catchments that are available for adoption, sign up to adopt one, and watch the videos to learn how to conduct surveys and how to safely catch and release amphibians in order to identify them. The project team will loan participants a box of basic equipment that they’ll need to conduct the survey, and the volunteers survey their site during the early part of summer. All data collected is submitted online, and it is reviewed by scientists and included in the amphibian database. Participants will have regular communication with scientists and project coordinators before, during and after their participation.
RMAP is organized and sponsored by the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute, Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the United States Forest Service.
About the University of Wyoming’s Biodiversity Institute
The UW Biodiversity Institute fosters conservation of biodiversity through scientific discovery, creative dissemination, education and public engagement. In this setting, scientists and citizens, students and educators, come together to share a wealth of perspectives on the study and appreciation of biodiversity – from microbes to poetry and ecosystems to economics. Learn more at www.wyomingbiodiversity.org.
About the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database
The Wyoming Natural Diversity Database is Wyoming’s natural heritage program charged with tracking, mapping and sharing data on the rare and sensitive plants, animals and ecosystems of Wyoming. Learn more at www.uwyo.edu/wyndd.
For more information contact:
University of Wyoming’s Biodiversity Institute
Wyoming Natural Diversity Database