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Backyard Surveys

Anyone can participate in Ontario Nature’s backyard surveys. You can help track the location and movement of salamanders, frogs and toads.

Backyard salamander monitoring © Lynn Miller


Biologists use survey data to detect changes in population numbers, distribution, and emergence and calling dates (for frogs and toads). This information also helps us develop range maps for the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas. Volunteers can participate in three types of surveys:

  1. Backyard frogs: Learn how to identify frogs and toads by their calls so you can complete acoustic surveys each spring. During surveys, volunteers document and report the species of frogs and toads they hear calling.
  2. Backyard salamanders: Monitoring the health of your woodlot by tracking red-backed salamanders on your property! These salamanders are indicators of forest health and play an important role in the food web.
  3. Vernal pool mapping: Vernal pools are small, ephemeral bodies of water found in wooded areas that are vital for amphibian reproduction and development. Help us map these unique features. 
Bullfrog in garden © Peter Ferguson

Get Involved

Follow the steps outlined below to start a survey in your own backyard:

  1. Pick a survey location near your home where either salamanders (found along the forest or forest edge) or frogs and toads live (such as a pond or wetland).
  2. Email atlas@ontarionature.org to sign up for the survey and receive reporting cards, survey guidelines, and resources to help you identify species by sight and sound.
  3. Follow the survey guidelines to record what you have seen or heard, and send the data back.

Are you interested in learning more about reptiles and amphibians? Consider joining the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas Facebook group to talk about these amazing animals, exchange photos and get the latest news.

For more information, 

Spotted salamander, Lost Bay Nature Reserve © Smera Sukumar

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