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 habitat, where the survivors are isolated from other populations of their species by distance and 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.
Whatcom County has experienced significant growth over recent years, but we know surprisingly little about the distribution of amphibian species — where each species occurs — and whether particular populations are in decline, are stable, or at risk. A few species, such as the Western toad (Anaxyrus [Bufo] boreas), appear to have experienced severe range contractions, disappearing from large areas of the County 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 this goal, the project uses a “Citizen Science” approach using a network of citizen volunteers to collect scientific field data. This not only allows the collection of large quantities of data, but also promotes public engagement and increased stewardship and protection of these organisms. All of our Citizen Science volunteers are trained in amphibian identification and methods of data collection that keep our amphibians safe from inadvertent harm or the risk of spreading amphibian diseases.
Below is a recent newsletter by the Whatcom Land Trust talking about how Citizen Science is utilized in some of our local organizations (including WCAMP!):
This project is a program under the Wildlife Conservation Trust (501 non-profit) which focuses which assists in funding and supporting wildlife research projects.
This program would not be possible without the support of the following:
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
U.S. Fish and Wildlife
The Whatcom Land Trust
The Lummi Heritage Trust
The Skagit Land Trust
The City Bellingham