Monitoring for Citizen Scientists
We welcome, encourage and are exited about classes, groups, and anyone who is interested in tracking our frogs, toads and salamanders!
Recommended minimum age for participation: 12 years old
There are two ways to approach this - you can do one or both:
- Monitoring: Adopt a catchment (a site with ponds and streams), visit it twice each summer, and fill out a quick data sheet on what you find. Great for merit badges, classes, etc.
- Random Observation: Watch and listen for amphibians when you're out and about, and submit information about what you hear and see to our database. Great for quick contributions.
Once you choose your catchment, you'll need to visit it at least once to do the survey. To help with this process, we will send you a loaner kit that contains the following materials.
Loaner Kits include:
- Amphibian identification guide
- pH testing strips
- GPS unit (if needed)
- Camera (if needed)
- Pre-labeled vials for collecting chytrid fungus samples
- Swabs for collecting chytrid fungus samples
Once you complete your survey, you will mail the loaner kit back to us.
You will need to bring your own:
- Sunscreen, bug spray, etc.
- Waders or boots
- Weather-proof jackets
Frogs, toads and salamanders can be tough to find. But just because we don't see them right away doesn't mean they're not out there! Monitoring for amphibians is a great way to find out what your catchment contains, in terms of species of amphibians, their life stages, and more. Each catchment contains more than 1 site; usually 3 or 4 ponds or streams.
Each catchment is surveyed at least twice each summer. This maximizes the value of the data that you turn in. If a catchment is surveyed only once, it will tell scientists what was happening that day - not what is generally happening in that catchment. For example, maybe it was a cold, cloudy day and amphibians were hunkering down. That wouldn't give an accurate representation of activities and species in that catchment. That's why going twice is so important - it fills out the story of the catchment a little better.
Once you turn in your monitoring data online, you will be able to see it on our Data Viewer (called WyoBio). You can see how your catchment is different than or similar to other catchments, and how it changes over time. You'll be able to see the scientific knowledge developing and maturing because of your work!
You have to choose a method for monitoring your catchment, based on how many people you have in your group:
Option 1: Dual-Observer Method
This method is perfect for a pair of people who work together to sweep the catchment, looking for amphibians. Both team members start at the base of your first site, or at one side, and walk in different directions, zig-zagging through the meadow or shorelines. When you meet at the opposite end, team members pause for 10 minutes, check water and air temperatures and fill out data sheets. Then, team members switch sides and zig-zag back to the starting point. Then, move on to the next site in your catchment and repeat.
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Option 2: Team Method
This is perfect for groups of three or more who would like to survey a catchment together. This method starts with all team members along the base of the first site, or on one side, and move forward together as one front staying within their imaginary column until everyone reaches the other side. Then, team members pause for 10 minutes, check water and air temperatures and fill out data sheets. Finally, everyone switches spots and repeats the process to get back to the starting point. Then, move on to the next site in your catchment and repeat.
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In addition to this more intensive amphibian monitoring protocol, we also encourage anyone to submit random observations (sight or sound) of amphibians, at any time.