By Joe Crowley

Ontario Nature conservation staff have now completed two field seasons conducting research on some of the province’s rarest creatures. This summer, in my capacity as coordinator of Ontario Nature’s Reptile and Amphibian Atlas project, I worked with John Urquhart, staff ecologist, collecting data from Pelee Island and Lost Bay Nature Reserve for the atlas, a citizen-science project that will provide key information for conservation strategies for species at risk (see “Secret worlds,” page 32).

More than 100 volunteers and some 20 organizations submitted thousands of observations in the first year, yielding nearly 17,000 documented sightings of reptiles and amphibians from around the province. Records for the second year have not yet been tallied, but the number of registered atlas participants almost tripled this year.

In a relatively brief time, Ontario Nature has established valuable partnerships with close to 30 organizations throughout the province to collaborate on reptile and amphibian research, surveys and conservation education. The Remarkable Reptiles Weekend, organized jointly with Bruce Peninsula National Park, has proven to be wildly successful – more than 600 people came out to hear guest speakers, see live reptiles and amphibians courtesy of Sciensational Sssnakes! and enjoy guided reptile and amphibian hikes. (For updates on upcoming reptile and amphibian atlas events like this one, see our events calendar at www.ontarionature.org/connect/events.php.)

For accounts of our conservation staff ’s summer adventures, check out our blog at www.ontarionature.org/connect/blog. To book a workshop or presentation for

your group, visit our website or e-mail John Urquhart at johnu@ontarionature.org. You, too, can be a citizen scientist, and help conserve some of our most threatened animals.