Connecticut Amphibian Monitoring Project
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There is growing global concern among scientists over observed declines in amphibian populations and increases in malformations and disease in frogs.

One of these amphibians, the spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum), at right, spends most of its day out of sight, residing in burrows, under rocks or other dark, moist areas.

 

Photographs by Gregory Watkins-Colwell, Shannon Schiesser and Jorge de Leon.
© Yale Peabody Museum. All rights reserved.

The Connecticut Amphibian Monitoring Project was established in 2003 to assess and monitor Connecticut amphibian populations over a 15-year period.

CAMP inventories animals like this Spring Peeper (Psuedacris crucifer), which is mainly a nocturnal organism known for its distinct and characteristic “peeping” call.

 

Photographs by Gregory Watkins-Colwell, Shannon Schiesser and Jorge de Leon.
© Yale Peabody Museum. All rights reserved.

Gregory Watkins-Colwell (center), a museum assistant in the Divison of Vertebrate Zoology at the Yale Peabody Museum, hopes that CAMP will not only set a standard in monitoring Connecticut amphibian populations, but also promote awareness about the importance of conserving these important species.

With Greg is Twan Leenders (at left), a curatorial affiliate in herpetology in the Division of Vertebrate Zoology, and Peabody volunteer Mike Mosher (background).

 

Photographs by Gregory Watkins-Colwell, Shannon Schiesser and Jorge de Leon.
© Yale Peabody Museum. All rights reserved.

CAMP’s founders and volunteers believe that amphibians are excellent indicators of environmental health, because they are so closely associated with and dependent on their external surroundings. Many of the organizations volunteers are pictured here.

CAMP Partner List:

  • Ansonia Nature and Recreation Center
  • Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo
  • Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection: Kellogg Environmental Center
  • Connecticut Audubon in the Northeast Corner
  • Menunkatuck Audubon Society
  • Pfizer Teacher Resource Center
  • Sacred Heart University
  • Science Center of Connecticut
  • Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

Photographs by Gregory Watkins-Colwell, Shannon Schiesser and Jorge de Leon.
© Yale Peabody Museum. All rights reserved.

Amphibians are especially vulnerable to the state of the environment because of characteristics like permeable skin, reduced life-long mobility and complex life cycles in water and on land.

This Gray Treefrog tadpole (Hyla versicolor) hatches from an egg and develops in fresh water, but spends most of its adult life on land.

 

Photographs by Gregory Watkins-Colwell, Shannon Schiesser and Jorge de Leon.
© Yale Peabody Museum. All rights reserved.

In total, this monitoring program plans to study 13 randomly selected, 1.5-square-mile survey blocks throughout the state over a 15-year period.

To obtain long-term and accurate assessments, CAMP founders extended the study’s life to 15 years to account for annual changes and natural environmental variability. Here Twan Leenders uses a net to catch aquatic amphibians

 

Photographs by Gregory Watkins-Colwell, Shannon Schiesser and Jorge de Leon.
© Yale Peabody Museum. All rights reserved.

Volunteers for CAMP are well versed in the 22 species of amphibians native to Connecticut, and on how to use standard amphibian census techniques, like frog call surveys, salamander cover searches and night road transects for migrating amphibians.

Here Twan Leenders scans the water for amphibians.

 

Photographs by Gregory Watkins-Colwell, Shannon Schiesser and Jorge de Leon.
© Yale Peabody Museum. All rights reserved.

Information gathered from the project will provide a baseline for analyzing changes in relative species diversity and abundance of Connecticut amphibian populations.

This marbled salamander (Ambystoma opacum) lives in damp wetlands and spends most of its life underground. This animal is especially susceptible to habitat loss and human interaction because it lays its eggs in small depressions near the ground’s surface.

 

Photographs by Gregory Watkins-Colwell, Shannon Schiesser and Jorge de Leon.
© Yale Peabody Museum. All rights reserved.

CAMP’s results may aid future conservation planning efforts by providing an indication of how various amphibian species and populations respond to different land uses.

This Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens) is rare in Connecticut. Because it has adapted to life in a variety of habitats, including ponds, streams and swamps in forests and more urban areas, it is especially susceptible to human influence on the environment.

 

Photographs by Gregory Watkins-Colwell, Shannon Schiesser and Jorge de Leon.
© Yale Peabody Museum. All rights reserved.