Despite the notable absence of key springtime features like sun, green leaves and grass, and warm weather (not to mention an absence of snow), spring is nearly upon us. Although the sluggish spring has been a bit disappointing, life in the Arb continues more or less as usual. The time for frogs and toads to end their winter hibernation is approaching, and as ice and snow recede and temperatures rise, they will flock to breeding sites and begin chorusing and mating.
To keep track of the frog and toad activity in the Arboretum, a yearly Frog and Toad Survey is conducted. The Arb Office follows the Department of Natural Resources guidelines for gathering data as closely as possible, and in keeping with the protocol, the early spring portion of the survey should begin soon. The first survey period is April 15th through April 30th, though the water temperature is supposed to be a minimum of 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This means we’ll be on the later end or outside of the range this year. The survey takes about two hours, and is conducted after dark. There are ten stops for the Arboretum survey, including stops near all the large bodies of water in the Arb, and Lyman Lakes.
Soon, we should be able to hear the first calls of spring from some of the earlier breeders. The Wood Frog and Western Chorus Frog should be two of the earliest species to begin calling and breeding, as well as the Northern Leopard Frog. For the survey, each species is identified by its distinctive call. Over the course of a few years, we can begin to identify trends in the amphibian populations in the Arb. So, although it feels like spring is nonexistent, if you’re going for a walk, listen for frog calls that could indicate spring is finally here.
If you have any questions about the frog and toad survey, or would like to come along to listen, contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Anna Persmark '15 for the Cole Student Naturalists