Solitary Investigations

Pacific Chorus Frog (Pseudacris regilla) credit: V. Jackson

In this strange time we have sadly had to cancel all of our spring group adventures due to the Covid-19 outbreak. I am heartened in seeing many folks getting exercise walking outside and exploring in their solitary experiences. I have received a number of emails asking about different amphibians people have come across. If you go to the Volunteer tab on the website you will find Amphibian Identification Guides and some other fun stuff to help you out.

I can also highly recommend using iNaturalist which is an amazing application that is an excellent learning learning tool and data collection of living organisms.

Group Field Activities Cancelled!

Oregon Ensatina (Ensatina eschscholtzii)

In view of the current Covid-19 situation all WCAMP group forays and events are cancelled. We thank those that have assisted us in the field so far this season. You are all Awesome!

We hope everyone remains healthy and safe. We will be adding some ideas for independent activities where you can learn about and explore amphibians safely from your home. Keep checking for new content!

As folks are out and about exploring their backyards and socially distanced walks we challenge you to take photos of amphibians you find! Email them with a little info on where it was found to vikki@whatfrogs.org . We will post images here and on our Facebook and Instagram pages to make people “hoppy” .

Changes in 2020

As we enter a new decade we are making a few changes to our programs we believe will better serve amphibians in Whatcom County. We will be putting more energy into working with sensitive species and invasive species. Never fear we will continue to provide outreach and assistance for all amphibian species in the County.

Over that past 8 years we have developed a strong database of the distributions of amphibians species in the County, particularly in the more lowland habitats. We know that we have some sensitive species that need more work and feel we should channel our efforts towards them. Our work has focused on native species to date, but it is becoming clear that understanding the non-native amphibians in Whatcom County is important to the survival of the native species. We will be putting more efforts into mapping and looking at management of invasives.

So how can you help this year? Here is what we have lined up. We need volunteers to make this work, so Click Here if you want to be on the mailing list for upcoming events.

Oregon Spotted Frog Egg Mass Surveys

Volunteer training is March 7th starting at 9 am. Whatcom Land Trust Office (412 N Commercial Street, Bellingham). Click here for more details.

The Oregon Spotted Frog (Rana pretiosa) is a Federally Threatened and State Endangered species. WCAMP has been on the forefront of survey work and habitat management for this species. We will be training volunteers to come with training biologists to count egg masses of this important frog.

BP Amphibian Surveys

In the past we have had spring surveys out on BP lands. This year we are shifting to summer surveys to see if we can locate the elusive Western Toad and to see if we can get a handle on the locations of Bullfrog and Green Frog populations on their properties. This event includes a half day training on amphibian ID followed by field survey work after the training. The next day we will spend a full day out looking for amphibians. Click here to learn more.

Toadly Toads

This will be our first year in the field with this program. We will be working with volunteers to identify locations of Western Toad breeding and migration crossings. We also are looking at setting up a docent program at Silver Lake to answer questions people have about toads at this important breeding area. Click here if you want to learn more.

High Mountain Frogs

We are after folks that like the high back country in Whatcom County for this one. Cascades Frogs live high in the mountains (2,000 feet and above). We are trying to locate any populations/individual of Cascade Frogs. We are working on a page for this project right now.

Oregon Spotted Frog Habitat Improvement

For the past four years WCAMP under the direction of Dr. Stephen Nyman has been working to improve Oregon Spotted Frog habitat on a special Whatcom Land Trust property. We will be having a series of work parties in late summer to make happy frog habitat. Click here for more info.

If you would like to be added to our email mailing list just Click Here. We do not sell or share our list to anyone.

Why Chase Frogs

Worldwide, many amphibian species are experiencing dramatic declines in abundance and are rapidly disappearing. As a group, amphibians (frogs, salamanders, and the tropical worm-like caecilians) are under assault by habitat loss, emerging deadly diseases, climate change, and introduced predators. Amphibian species that dwell in urban and suburban areas are being squeezed into smaller areas of suitable habitat, where the survivors are isolated from other populations of their species by long distance and inhospitable habitats, including the need to cross busy roadways.  Now and in the future, the places where most of us live may be places where just a few of the most tolerant amphibian species can be seen or heard. Understanding the effects of development on amphibian populations before it is too late may allow for a different future. 
 
Within Whatcom County we know surprisingly little about the distribution of amphibian species — where each species occurs — and whether particular populations are in decline or stable, or are at risk.  A few species, such as the Western Toad (Anaxyrus boreas), appear to have experienced severe range contractions, disappearing from large areas where they once occurred, but baseline information with which to describe these changes or predict future losses is mostly lacking. The Whatcom County Amphibian Monitoring Program was created to provide this missing baseline information and to help find solutions to maintain amphibian biodiversity in Whatcom County.
 
To meet our goal we follow a “Citizen Science” approach using a network of citizen volunteers to collect scientific field data. Our program focuses on training volunteers through class and field experience to independently identify amphibian species and collect habitat and population data for public use. This not only allows for the collection of large quantities of data, but also promotes public engagement and awareness of amphibians as fascinating and ecologically important organisms deserving of protection and stewardship by concerned landowners and as part of public policy.

 

Western Toad adult, Everett Lake, Concrete, WA, August 2013 (copyright Erin Donahou)