Bull Frog photo by Jonathan Mays
Since 1989, scientists have been concerned that frogs, toads, and salamanders (amphibians) may be declining worldwide. Unfortunately, a recent scientific analysis confirms these suspicions with fully 32% of the world’s amphibian species now considered threatened with extinction, which is a rate exceeding that for birds or mammals. Maine, like many other states, had little data to assess trends in its amphibian populations. In 1996, MDIFW and Maine Audubon received an Outdoor Heritage Fund grant to initiate a statewide amphibian-monitoring program, launched in 1997. Maine’s Calling Amphibian Survey is part of a nationwide effort organized by the U.S. Geological Survey. Sixty-one road-monitoring routes were randomly established across the state. Each spring and summer season, volunteers drive their individually assigned route three times, recording the diversity and intensity of calling frogs and toads. Some vacant routes still exist, with new volunteers especially needed in northern Maine. Participants are provided training materials to assist them with the identification of each of Maine’s nine species of frogs and toads. With 15 years of data collected (through 2011), we anticipate the ability to analyze preliminary population trends for several species of frogs and toads soon. Currently Leopard Frogs, listed as a Special Concern Species in Maine’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, and Mink Frogs are among the state’s least commonly reported species. Those interested in participating in this citizen-science initiative should contact Maine Audubon’s Susan Gallo at 207-781-6180 (ext. 216) or visit the Maine Audubon website.
Funding for this work comes from the federal State Wildlife Grants program, Maine Audubon Society, and revenues from the Loon Conservation Plate and Chickadee Check-off.