Long-term monitoring requires more time, effort and resources than incidental observations. This type of data collection happens every year for specific locations and species to monitor amphibian and reptile populations – to find out if they’re increasing, decreasing or staying stable.
Data becomes useful the longer the monitoring takes place – a minimum of three to five years are needed before trends can be observed. The Amphibian Monitoring Program by the Nicola Naturalist Society is a great example of a long-term monitoring project.
Are you interested? If you’d like to participate in a three- to five-year monitoring protocol, the BC Frogwatch program can set you up with site selection and monitoring methods or offer help with data reporting.
Types of Monitoring
This technique is relatively easy, inexpensive and takes little training. Use this technique during the spring when frogs and toads are breeding. Surveyors visit a site and listen for calling male frogs or toads to find out:
- What species of frog and toad call at this site?
- Do the same species breed at the site each year?
- Approximately how many males are in the breeding population at this site?
- When does breeding take place at this site each year and how long does it last?
Call surveys can be done either at just one site / pond or at multiple sites along a transect (usually a road).
This survey technique involves visually monitoring and reporting on cryptic amphibians and reptiles. Surveyors walk along the shoreline of a breeding site, along a stream/riparian area, section of road, on a tallus slope, or outside a snake hibernation den to find out:
- What species are at this site?
- What life stages of each species are at the site?
- Approximately how many females lay eggs at a wetland site? Does this change over the years?
- When are eggs laid at the site?
- When do tadpoles metamorphose at this site each year?
- Are there migration “hot spots” across certain roads? Is there high mortality due to traffic on these roads?
Repeat surveys are usually needed to increase the probability that species will be detected.
- Road Transect Survey Protocol & Data Entry Form (PDF)
- Road Transect Survey Data Spreadsheet Template (XLS)
- Egg Mass Count Survey Protocol & Data Entry Form (PDF)
- Egg Mass Survey Data Spreadsheet Template (XLS)
- Visual Survey Protocol & Data Entry Form (PDF)
- Visual Survey Data Spreadsheet Template (XLS)
Tips for Reporting Data
It is very important to enter date using the exact format specified below. The date may not span days. For clarity, on your field forms do not use a 2-digit month or year format. A reliable format is dd-mmm-yyyy (e.g. '7 Jun 2008' or '7-Jun-2008'). When entering the date into Excel ensure that Excel interprets it as correct date information.
Start by identifying the amphibian you saw – taking photos from different angles will help. You can get help with this step if you can’t identify the animal:
Once you know your species and you're entering data online, click the “Select” button and enter either a Latin name or a common term like frog, toad, salamander or boa. Choose your species from the list of names displayed.
For long-term monitoring, copy the code for the species into the into the spreadsheet template exactly as it reads in the list of options presented. Do this by double clicking the column header of the “Species Code” column.