Citizen Science, Conservation

Wetland Monitoring and Citizen Science

Have you ever wanted to help scientists discover important facts about the environment? Consider becoming a citizen scientist and gather vital data about the amphibians and macroinvertebrates at Schlitz Audubon.

Amphibians are amazing creatures that are valuable to the ecosystem, but their numbers have been in decline. Because of their semi-permeable skin, amphibians are sensitive to pollution and other changes in water quality. They are therefore indicators of environmental health. For this reason, it is important to monitor their populations and the health of their habitats.

Volunteers Power Citizen Science

Without the help of volunteers, monitoring these creatures would not be possible. At Schlitz Audubon, citizen scientists have been monitoring amphibians through three main projects.

Our Ephemeral Wetland Monitoring Program trains volunteers to identify frogs, salamanders, and crayfish species. Then they are able to enter the ponds and get up close and personal with the life that they hold. Citizen scientists will discover what frogs and salamanders are breeding in which ponds, and will actually have opportunities to handle these elusive creatures. They will also monitor aquatic insects and invertebrates and learn about the unique and diverse lifeforms that are hiding in plain sight.

Essential Programs Monitoring Amphibians

In 2018, our wetland monitoring survey brought in 15 volunteers who monitored amphibians and invertebrates in four ponds at Schlitz Audubon. They discovered 26 different species of macroinvertebrates, including aquatic insects and breeding crayfish. They also helped find five species of amphibians – blue-spotted salamanders, green frogs, spring peepers, gray tree frogs, and wood frogs. Volunteers collected important data that indicates which of our ponds are sustaining breeding populations of these species.

Another program is Frogwatch USA, a national citizen science program supported by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Volunteers listen to frog and toad calls during breeding season and record their observations. This data helps us understand the size and distribution of frog and toad populations at Schlitz Audubon.

We also participate in the Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey, a monitoring project that gathers data for the Wisconsin DNR. Volunteers collect data on breeding frog and toad populations at Schlitz Audubon and other ponds in northern Milwaukee County. The DNR compiles our data with other surveys throughout Wisconsin to gain a better understanding of the statewide health of frogs and toads.

Data Helps People Make Conservation Decisions

The data that is collected will be shared with our conservation department, who can use the information to help their decision making when it comes time to taking out invasive plant species, planting new trees, or even introducing native amphibians to our ponds at Schlitz Audubon.

Anyone can become a citizen scientist with no prior experience required, just a love for nature and an interest in wildlife! Volunteers will be trained on site at Schlitz Audubon and learn how to identify species, the protocol for each project, and how to gather meaningful data that can be used to improve the habitats at our Center. Consider joining us to learn how to participate in these incredible citizen science programs; Ephemeral Wetland Monitoring Orientation takes place on Saturday, February 23 and Frogwatch USA Training takes place on Tuesday, February 26.