The Munson Sandhills region of the Apalachicola National Forest, just south of Florida’s capital city Tallahassee, is rich with small, isolated wetlands that hold water only during certain times of the year. Why are these wetlands important? The list is long but one significant reason is that they provide breeding habitat for a suite of amphibians that only breed in these fishless wetlands.
Over the past 50 years, some of these species have declined and one, the striped newt, has all but gone extinct within the Apalachicola National Forest. We are engaging the community to help us keep an eye on these amphibians and the unique wetlands on which they depend. These data contribute important information about species diversity, wetland water levels, and help us detect any declines in amphibian populations early before costly and less effective measures are needed.
Volunteers are assigned a wetland based on their interests and preference (hike in or near a paved road, large versus small wetland, 4WD accessible or not, etc). They then attend a training at which they learn sampling methodology and how to ID amphibian larvae. They are provided with a field guide and access to all surveying equipment and supplies. In return, volunteers agree to survey the amphibians in their adopted wetland at least 2 times a year.
We have 50 wetlands (see map below) enrolled in the program and have engaged almost 500 citizens in the past four years. The program has far exceeded our expectations! We will be beginning our 5th year this winter. We have scheduled an informational meeting for Tuesday, January 16th, 6-7pm at the Main Leon County Library (Room A) to launch the 2018 program. Hope to see you there!
We offer this program free to the public. If you would like to support our efforts, please consider donating to our Building Communities that Conserve Wetlands program. Click the donate button below and your contribution will go directly towards this unique program!