Saturday, August 13, 2016

Citizen Science - Volunteer Amphibian Survey

Last weekend I was lucky enough to volunteer with our citizen science team to do an amphibian survey at Three Lakes. We backpacked in with great weather and the calming views of our old growth forest. On our way in, there was discussion about the Western Toad which was the main reason for our adventure. The crew was in search of toad breeding grounds and evidence of the toad around the Three Lakes area. The Western Toad has not been doing well at the park and locating breeding grounds would be important for our scientists – to ensure toad tadpoles are able to become toads. After our six mile trek with our heavy packs, we started the survey at a wetland not too far from the Three Lakes cabin we stayed at for two nights. As luck would have it, there were toad tadpoles aplenty! It was delightful to come across this fortune of toad tadpoles so quickly on our trip. We immediately went to work – catching, measuring and documenting these tadpoles.
As day two began, our spirits were high after the find of the first day - questions lingered -  could we find toad toddlers or even a large adult toad? The first few spots we looked at had many Cascade Frogs but no signs of the toad.  We arrived at small lake glanced around and announced that the location did not look “toad-y”. We walked over to the lake and began the survey. Almost right away, a young toad was found, then another and another. These one year old toads were keeping us busy – weighing, measuring and photographing them. Then we found an adult male toad, which put the others to shame. He was big, calm and very fun to photograph. As our time went on at this site, we found another adult toad and even caught a garter snake. The trip was a success and it felt it had only begun. However, as we moved on there were only a few more toads to be found. The weather cooperated and as our team of four sat down for dinner we reminisced of how successful the trip had been.

With a much quicker hike out on day three, the trip was over. The citizen science team and new brave volunteers are at Mystic Lake this weekend, again in search of the Western Toad.
Our citizen science program provides great opportunities for volunteers of all ages. Projects range from short one day lake surveys to backpacking surveys like the one described above. For more information do not hesitate to contact me.
Mark Loper

***All photos taken by volunteer Mark Kenny

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