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 Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Delaware Amphibian Monitoring Program.
This year, DAMP seeks volunteers to conduct frog-calling surveys 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 will conduct three nighttime surveys between March 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 the 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 serve as important indicators of water quality and other environmental factors,” said wildlife biologist Holly Niederriter of the division’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.
Volunteers will be provided with a training CD and other materials upon selection of a survey route, and will learn the calls of Delaware’s 16 frog species, their habitat and where in the state they are most likely to be found.
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, contact Vickie Henderson, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Species Research and Conservation Program, at 302-735-8657 or email Vickie.Henderson@state.de.us.
Information is also available at www.pwrc.usgs.gov/naamp/. Volunteers are encouraged to visit this website before calling to see where the routes are located in relation to where they live and if they are assigned to other volunteers. Although the goal is to have all routes covered, if all routes near a volunteer's home are already assigned to other volunteers, multiple people can survey the same route.
DAMP was started in 1997 and is part of the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program, which helps coordinate similar efforts in other states and provinces. The program is funded in part by donations to the Nongame and Endangered Species Fund on the Delaware state income tax form. A filer can donate all or a portion of the state tax refund.