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© Lora Denis
This spring, we set out to get the inside scoop on the secret lives of reptiles and amphibians. Despite garter snakes and green frogs being a common sight in many Ontario landscapes, there is still a lot to learn about our native herpetofauna. In Ontario, 75% of reptiles and 28% of amphibians are listed as at-risk provincially and/or federally. The more we know, the better equipped we are to conserve them.
So, we planned our first ever BioBlitz series!
A BioBlitz is an event where both seasoned and aspiring naturalists head out into nature to inventory all the species they can find. Our goal was to learn more about the distribution of reptiles and amphibians, teach people about Ontario biodiversity and get outdoors!
Because our local reptiles and amphibians have different periods of peak activity, we held events over 3 different weekends. This way, participants could take advantage of rain and shine, night and day, to find as many different species as possible. When a reptile or amphibian was spotted, it was reported through the app and the observer earned points to win prizes!
There were three different ways to get in on the fun: exploring individually, as a team, or joining a guided hike hosted by Ontario Nature staff and expert volunteers. We hosted hikes at our Kinghurst Forest Nature Reserve in Elmwood and in Campbellville, Floradale, Oshawa, and Peterborough.
Extra points were awarded for submissions of two especially hard-to-find species, the Eastern Hog-nosed Snake and the Northern Two-lined Salamander.
In the end, we received 1,032 records submitted by nearly 400 observers all across the province!
The winners are… *drumroll*
The data submitted to the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas helps support conservation efforts highlighting road mortality hotspots, filling our knowledge gaps, and increasing public awareness about our species at risk.
Thank you to everyone who participated!
This event series was sponsored by the Biodiversity Education and Awareness Network and Blazing Star Environmental.