Nicola Naturalist Society goes frogging in Merritt
On the weekend of May 14-15 the Nicola Naturalist Society started a five year community-based program to monitor amphibian populations (frogs and salamanders) in the Merritt area, sponsored by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and the Public Conservation Assistance Fund.
Amphibians worldwide are in precipitous decline due to loss of wetlands and the spread of a chytrid skin fungus which affects their ability to breathe through their skins. Since birds, mammals, fish and snakes prey on frogs, their disappearance could lead to further declines and imbalances in the ecosystem. Very little is known about frogs, toads and salamanders in our area. Our goals are to find out what species live and breed in the wetlands, marshes and lakes of the Nicola, Coldwater and Kane drainages and to watch their health over time.
Biologists from Biolinx Envionmental Research Ltd. in Victoria, Dr. Kristina Ovaska, Lennart Sopuck and Christian Engelstoft, gave a presentation and training session at the Merritt Civic Centre on Saturday May 14 with 26 adults and children attending. Merritt naturalists learned to identify the species in our area – Western Toads, Spadefoots, Columbia Spotted Frogs and Pacific Chorus (or Tree) Frogs, as well as the Long-toed Salamander.
In the afternoon, the group surveyed a few of the lakes in Kane Valley and found Western Toads in a breeding cluster at the lake edge. The smaller males sit on top of the females and fertilize the eggs as they are being released into the water. Each female lays hundreds of eggs in long dark strings which will hatch into tadpoles in one to two weeks. These develop into toadlets which are often seen in masses leaving lakes in mid-summer to begin their life on land.
To read more about the project or to join in the activities, please see our website:www.nicolanaturalists.ca or call Volunteer Coordinator Andrea Lawrence 378-2468.