The sound of frogs calling in the night is more than just a sign of spring’s arrival. This familiar sound is also a call to volunteers across the state to participate in the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Delaware Amphibian Monitoring Program (DAMP), for which the Division will hold an orientation for volunteers from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, March 1. The meeting will be held at the St. Jones Research Reserve, 818 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover, located off Route 9 just south of Dover Air Force Base.
This year, DAMP seeks volunteers to conduct surveys of calling frogs on 17 routes in all three counties, with the greatest need for volunteers in Sussex County. Volunteers should have a car and must be willing to conduct surveys along a roadside at night. Surveys are weather dependent, so volunteers need to be flexible on survey dates and times. Each survey takes two to three hours, not including drive time to the start point. Volunteers conduct three nighttime surveys between February and July.
Frog calls can be an important way to determine where different species live and how populations are faring over time – and many scientists now believe keeping track of these small amphibians can provide valuable information about our natural world.
“Frogs, toads and other amphibians have received more attention over the last few years as scientists and the public have become increasingly alarmed over amphibian declines and deformities. Because amphibians are aquatic for at least part of their life cycle, they can serve as important indicators of water quality and other environmental factors,” said Wildlife Biologist Holly Niederriter of the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Delaware Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. Concern about amphibian populations has prompted amphibian monitoring programs throughout North America and around the world, Niederriter added, noting that DAMP plays Delaware’s part in a national effort.
Conducted by Ms. Niederriter and Jim White of the Delaware Nature Society, the DAMP orientation includes a discussion of Delaware’s 16 frog species, their habitat and where in the state they are most likely to be found. Volunteers also will learn the calls of different species, and will be provided with a training CD and other materials upon selection of a survey route.
Surveys consist of listening for calling frogs at stops along the assigned route, recording the species heard and the general number of frogs calling, and then entering these data into the national database online. This is a long-term project and is best suited for volunteers who are able to commit to conducting surveys for at least three years.
To find out more about volunteering for DAMP, please contact Vickie Henderson, Division of Fish and Wildlife Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, at 302-735-8657, or e-mail Vickie.Henderson@state.de.us. Preregistration for the orientation is encouraged but not required.
Information is also available by visiting the national project website, www.pwrc.usgs.gov/naamp/. Volunteers are encouraged to visit this website prior to the training and choose an open route. If there are no open routes near your home, you can choose one that is taken.
Logo courtesy Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control