Amphibians: A Conservation Moment
A©2002 Terry Gampper, Scaley Chronicles, 06/16/02
The following is from a series of articles Terry rights for the Scaley Chronicles, a newsletter for herpers on AOL. You will find some of his amphibian care articles on AOL and in the Amphibians section here at my site.
Yes, most amphibians do migrate. They will travel from a forested area to their breeding ponds. Sometimes, their migration route takes them over roads, railroad tracks and other obstacles. These migrations are often spectacular, involving hundreds or even thousands of individuals. They move on warm, rainy nights when the moon is obscured. Female frogs and toads are attracted to the male's call. Many species are loyal to a particular body of water and will return to that place every year. During the fall, the amphibians will leave for higher, drier ground to spend the winter using the same migration routes. As a result, many individuals are killed while crossing busy roads. Some amphibian populations will migrate 4 miles or more between the breeding pond and their overwintering sites.
One of the ways conservation groups are protecting amphibians is the construction of "toad tunnels." Unfortunately, a high incidence of mortality among migrating amphibians has a dramatic effect on overall species survival. An effective amphibian tunnel system can reduce the number of traffic related deaths by nearly 100%. Will this fact alone be enough to persuade people to take a more active role in conservation efforts? If this doesn't motivate people, maybe the fact that many frog and toad carcasses on the roads will present a serious traffic hazard, imagine those slippery bodies -- do you like driving on ice? There are reasons why these tunnels are referred to as "toad tunnels." Toads are:
(1) slower than frogs and salamanders;
(2) they often move in large numbers and concentrations compared to other species and are thus killed in large numbers; and
(3) research suggests that certain species of toads are very faithful to the breeding ponds where they were born, and return year after year, keeping the same migration route.
Before building "toad tunnels", one has to consider several factors:
Currently "toad tunnels" are being used with great success in the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, and the states of Texas, Massachusetts, California, Oregon and Florida. What can you do as an individual or member of a conservation/herpetological group can do to protect reptiles and amphibians? Don' t miss my next Conservation Moment!
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