Ontario Nature seeking local citizen scientists
The Community Press,
April 26 2016
BELLEVILLE – Area residents are being encouraged to become citizen scientists.
Ontario Nature is enlisting citizens to assist in the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas. The atlas is a citizen-science program tracking distributions and spatial trends of reptiles and amphibians across the province over time. The overarching goal is to increase the collective knowledge base of reptiles and amphibians. Equally important, however, is the engagement of non-scientists of all ages and abilities, in all parts of the province, in nature study and conservation.
Reptiles and amphibians have already been spotted in parts of the Quinte region – a Blanding’s turtle here, a gartersnake there. But there is the potential to spot more. On a leisurely shoreline stroll residents may spot a Blanding’s turtle or spring peeper.
“Spring is one of my favourite times of year and is distinctively marked by the unique calls of different species of frogs and toads. The early season calls of wood and chorus frogs as well as spring peepers bring the night alive with sound,” stated Emma Horrigan, Ontario Nature’s citizen science co-ordinator.
Reptiles and amphibians are experiencing global declines of 20 and 40 per cent respectively. In Ontario, 75 per cent of reptiles and 22 per cent of amphibians are listed as at-risk provincially. These turtles, snakes, lizards, salamanders, frogs and toads have unique, specialized and fascinating life histories. But they suffer terribly from habitat loss and fragmentation, road mortality, persecution and pollution.
Last year, citizen scientists reported more than 29,000 sightings across the province. The atlas was launched in 1984 and there have been more than 350,000 submissions by more than 3,000 people.
Anyone interested in the program can visit ontarionature.org.