Pond Breeding Amphibians

There’s nothing quite like wading into a winter pond surrounded by amphibian eggs, tadpoles, and the chorus of thousands of croaking Wood Frogs!

From late January to mid April, we visit 3 sites in the Park every two weeks to monitor Wood Frog and Spotted Salamander breeding.  We count the number of egg masses of each species and take water chemistry measurements.  To do this, we don chest waders and muck around in the deep, dark, cold water of these ephemeral pools.

Why It Matters

This is the only long-term pond breeding amphibian monitoring project in the Park.  In addition to sparking curiosity and, in the case of frogs, offering nightly serenades, amphibians are integral to ecosystem health. Both predator and prey, amphibians eat tiny insects and macroinvertebrates, converting their mass into their own bodies, which moves up the ecosystem as thy are eaten by raccoons, birds, otters, and others. These populations face risk from feral hogs (they roll around the wetlands, destroying eggs and tadpoles), ranavirus, chytrid fungus, and climate change (drought).  Because of these threats, this is a top priority project, as we can monitor their populations and inform conservation decisions based on the data.

In the video above, a marbled salamander larvae eats a fairy shrimp. The other tadpoles in the video are wood frogs.

More Information

Our Pond Breeding Amphibian Monitoring project was devised by Drs. Jim Petranka, UNCA, and Charles Smith, High Point University.  They wrote the protocols for the monitoring in a 1995 report to the park; we use these protocols when collecting data.  Drs. Petranka and Smith collected data the first few years, then Park staff collected the data, and finally the project was offered to Tremont in 2007.

If you are interested in volunteering your time to help us monitor these amphibians, please contact Erin Canter at [email protected].

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