COVID-19 UPDATE: The Harris Center is canceling or postponing all in-person programs and events through May 4. The Harris Center building will also be closed to visitors until May 4. Our trails and grounds remain open.
A Pilot Salamander Study
We’re excited to announce that we have received a Network Innovation Grant from the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation for a new conservation research initiative focused on our Salamander Crossing Brigades!
As part of this project and in partnership with a postdoctoral research ecologist from UMASS-Amherst, we will be installing and monitoring a pitfall array – comprised of silt fencing and aluminum can “traps” – at our North Lincoln Street amphibian crossing in Keene this spring. Any amphibians trying to migrate across North Lincoln Street will encounter the silt fence, walk along it looking for an opening, and eventually fall into a trap, where they will stay until they can be recorded and released on the other side of the fence by one of the researchers working on this project.
Data from this pilot study will help us begin to figure out how many wood frogs and spotted salamanders actually cross the road at this site each spring, and what percentage of them are helped along by the Crossing Brigades. The pitfall array will be in place from early April through the first week of May. To ensure the safety of the amphibians, we will be checking the traps first thing every morning and throughout the night on Big Nights. If you’re planning to join the Salamander Crossing Brigades at North Lincoln Street this spring, please observe the following “rules”:
The traps (big, modified aluminum cans) will be dug flush to the ground every 10 meters, so you’ll need to be careful not to inadvertently step in or trip over them.
Release Crossed Critters on the Other Side of the Fence
This year, you’ll have to move critters not just across the street, but also over the silt fence, so they can get where they’re going. The fence is several feet away from the road, so you may want to collect amphibians in a clean bucket to gently release en masse, rather than moving them one at a time.
Keep Good Count and Check In and Out
It’s extra important to keep careful count of the critters you cross this year, so make sure your data is turned in to a Site Coordinator or emailed to me, and to check in (when you arrive) and out (when you leave) with a Site Coordinator. (You’ll know who the Site Coordinators are because they will be wearing blinking red lights.) Accurate Big Night counts – of volunteers, as well as amphibians – are absolutely essential to the success of this research project.
Don’t Remove Any Amphibians from the Traps
If they made it there on their own, we need to record them separately from the ones who are being carried across. We also had to apply for a scientific collection permit to install the array, and under the conditions of the permit, only certain people are allowed to handle the critters in the traps. You can of course look and take pictures, but please alert a Site Coordinator if a trap is full on a Big Night and needs to be emptied. Please do not empty any traps on your own!