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New Citizen Science Project Explores Wyoming’s Frogs, Toads and Salamanders


April 30, 2014 — A new citizen science program is seeking volunteers to help search for, identify and track frogs, toads and salamanders in Wyoming.

This program, called the Rocky Mountain Amphibian Project (RMAP), seeks volunteers to sign up to survey catchments (sets of ponds, streams or lakes) to see which amphibians they find hopping around.

RMAP is organized and sponsored by the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute, Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Forest Service. To learn more, visit www.toadtrackers.org.  

The project is underway in the Medicine Bow and Routt national forests in southeast Wyoming and northern Colorado and the Bridger-Teton National Forest in northwest Wyoming. Expansion plans are being considered.

“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,” according the RMAP. “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 RMAP seeks to better understand how well Wyoming’s amphibians are reproducing and surviving in modern times. 

“We 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,” says Brenna Marsicek, UW Berry Biodiversity Center project coordinator.

Individuals interested in participating in this project can visit the project website, www.toadtrackers.org, to see 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 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 sites during the early part of summer. All data collected are submitted online and reviewed by scientists and accessioned into the amphibian database. Participants will have regular communication with scientists and project coordinators before, during and after their participation.

For more information, contact Marsicek at Brenna.marsicek@uwyo.edu, phone (307) 766-6240, or Wendy Estes-Zumpf with the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, westes@uwyo.edu, phone (307) 766-3042.

About UW’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.

Photo:
A new citizen science program is seeking volunteers to help search for, identify and track frogs, toads and salamanders in Wyoming. (Zach Bateson Photo)

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