By John Urquhart
Ontario Nature’s conservation staff is back in the field! We are continuing our research on reptiles and amphibians as we work toward the completion of the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas. One of the unique aspects of the atlas is the opportunity it provides for citizen scientists. Anyone can contribute valuable data that, once the project is complete, will constitute the most up-to-date information on Ontario populations of reptiles and amphibians (together called “herpetofauna”).
To date, more than 400 people have submitted observations of reptiles and amphibians, and we have received more than 162,000 records, noting when and where specific species have been sighted in Ontario, from the public, researchers and other conservation organizations. The data is shared with the Ministry of Natural Resources’ Natural Heritage Information Centre and used to help determine the most effective conservation strategies for these species. In just two years, the atlas project has doubled the number of herpetofauna records in the existing provincial database.
You can learn more about these species on Ontario Nature’s atlas website (www.ontarionature.org/atlas). The account for each species includes a page of photos, range maps, detailed descriptions and identification tips. Also listed are outreach events planned for this year. Last year, more than 1,500 people attended some 40 presentations, field training events, workshops and exhibits.
Interested in joining our conservation efforts this year? Send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org@ontarionature.org or check out the atlas website. With your help, we can make a difference for these increasingly vulnerable creatures.