DOVER (Feb. 6, 2015) – The sound of frogs calling in the night is more than just a sign of spring’s arrival. This familiar sound is also a call to volunteers across the state to participate in the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Delaware Amphibian Monitoring Program (DAMP). The Division will hold an orientation meeting for volunteers from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21 at the Aquatic Resources Education Center, located at 4876 Hay Point Landing Road/Route 9 east of Smyrna.
This year, DAMP seeks volunteers to conduct frog-calling surveys on 17 routes throughout all three counties, with the greatest need for volunteers in Sussex County. Volunteers should have a car and must be willing to conduct surveys along a roadside at night, with reflective clothing provided. Surveys are weather dependent, so volunteers need to be flexible on survey dates and times. Each survey takes two to three hours, not including drive time to the start point. Volunteers will conduct three nighttime surveys between February and July.
Frog calls can be an important way to determine where different species live and how populations are faring over time – and many scientists believe keeping track of these small amphibians can provide valuable information about our natural world.
“Frogs, toads and other amphibians have received more attention over the last few years as scientists and the public have become increasingly alarmed over amphibian declines and diseases. Because amphibians are aquatic for at least part of their life cycle, they serve as important indicators of water quality and other environmental factors,” said Wildlife Biologist Holly Niederriter of the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Species Conservation and Research Program. Concern about amphibian populations has prompted amphibian monitoring programs throughout North America and around the world, Niederriter added, noting that DAMP contributes Delaware’s part in a national effort.
The DAMP orientation, conducted by Ms. Niederriter and Jim White of the Delaware Nature Society, includes a discussion of Delaware’s 18 frog species, their habitat and where in the state they are most likely to be found. Volunteers also will learn the calls of different species, and will be provided with a training CD and other materials upon selection of a survey route.
Surveys consist of listening for calling frogs at stops along the assigned route, recording the species heard and the general number of frogs calling, and then entering this data into the national database online. This is a long-term project and is best suited for volunteers who are able to commit to conducting surveys for at least three years.
Preregistration for the orientation is encouraged but not required. To preregister, or to find out more about volunteering for DAMP, please contact Vickie Henderson, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Species Research and Conservation Program, at 302-735-8657, or email Vickie.Henderson@state.de.us. Information is also available by visiting the Delaware Amphibian Monitoring Program webpage and the national project website, www.pwrc.usgs.gov/naamp/.
DAMP was started in 1997 and is part of the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program (NAAMP), which helps to coordinate similar efforts in other states and provinces. The program is funded in part by donations to Delaware’s Nongame Wildlife Fund. You can help keep frogs singing in Delaware by donating to this fund on the Delaware state income tax form under Schedule III Contributions to Special Funds.