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Monitoring for amphibian egg masses

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Monitoring for amphibian egg masses
March 26, 2020

Amphibians are excellent ecosystem monitors. If their populations are changing, you can bet something is happening in the habitat.

That’s why Northwest Trek staff routinely survey the grounds for eight different species: rough skinned newts, northwestern salamanders, long-toed salamanders, Western toads, Oregon spotted frogs, red legged frogs, Pacific tree frogs and bull frogs. That data is regularly reported to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to better protect and conserve the amphibians for the future.

Northwest Trek’s recent temporary closure to help slow the spread of coronavirus has not stopped staff on grounds from monitoring for egg masses of those eight species. Using monitoring tools like waders, digital cameras and GPS units, Northwest Trek’s Conservation Program Coordinator Rachael Mueller identified egg masses of long-toed salamander, northwestern salamander, Pacific treefrog and northern red-legged frog in mid-March.

WATCH: See how you can monitor for egg masses

“At Northwest Trek, early to mid-March is the time of year when we observe the most amphibian species breeding and there are a lot of egg masses currently present,” said Mueller. “Location, weather and elevation can all have an influence on when amphibians breed and what species can be found.”

Mueller said she expects western toads to be visible in April.

Monitoring amphibian egg masses and training others to do it is something Northwest Trek has been doing since 2011. Read more here.