Regional Monitoring Projects

Herpetology

Amphibian populations are declining throughout the world. Hundreds of species are becoming extinct at an alarming rate. Even species once thought common are now all but gone. All too frequently newly discovered species are reported as extinct, almost by the time the news of their discovery reaches the scientific community. To help understand these extinctions and the changes in amphibian populations, several organizations have been formed to help scientists and amateurs work together.

Through field collecting in New England and elsewhere in the United States, the Division of Vertebrate Zoology has increased the taxonomic diversity of its North American herpetology holdings. New England collections include specimens from the Maine Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project and the Connecticut Amphibian Monitoring Project.

Connecticut Amphibian Monitoring Project

Established in 1998, the Connecticut Amphibian Monitoring Project (CAMP) was an ambitious, volunteer-driven, 15-year statewide survey of amphibian populations that included scientists from several Connecticut institutions, including the Yale Peabody Museum, an official CAMP partner.

Education Coordinator Jim Sirch of the Museum’s Education Department and Division of Vertebrate Zoology Collections Manager Greg Watkins-Colwell, as CAMP site coordinators, were responsible for volunteer efforts to survey specific sites for amphibian diversity and population activity. CAMP volunteers were involved in all aspects of the survey, including night road surveys (in the rain), cover surveys (looking under logs…and counting how many logs you’ve turned over), call surveys (know your frog sounds), larval surveys (know your tadpoles!), and even collecting voucher specimens as evidence of a species occurrence at a site.

Greg Watkins-Colwell was also the collections coordinator for the statewide project, overseeing the identification and cataloguing of specimens collected during the entire CAMP program. These specimens are ambassadors, of sorts, for their populations. Housed in the Division of Vertebrate Zoology, they are available to researchers around the world and to future generations, a record of what amphibian populations in Connecticut looked like in the early 21st century.

Greg Watkins-Colwell Collections Manager,
Herpetology;
Ichthyology;
Vertebrate Zoology