Friends President Will Vuyk welcomed and introduced the small group that gathered at the Picnic Point Kiosk to the Friends of Amphibians citizen science goals and methods. Members of Madison’s new volunteer network survey the numbers and kinds of amphibians in promising locations. Under an osprey wheeling in the sky, Will led us to two areas he samples in the Lot 60 Bioswale. More than 24 hours earlier, he had placed traps, baited with rabbit chow to lure tadpoles into them. Because ranavirus (frog virus 3) infections have been detected at multiple sites around Madison this summer, Will sprayed his boots with disinfectant before entering the marshy Bioswale to retrieve the traps. Although it is bullfrog and green frog mating season, we heard only the green frog’s “glunk".
Under the shade of a tree next to each site, Will brought the trap to us and transferred the contents into a bucket, for identifications. Amphibians and many species of insects live as aquatic larvae at the beginning of their lives. Will had a sheet of colored photos to assist in tadpole identification, but we saw none. We did see a huge dragonfly nymph, several water boatmen, some small snails, a leech and a recently emerged green darner dragonfly (deceased) and its exoskeleton.
Our observations and photos were entered and uploaded from Will’s smartphone to The Friends of Amphibians site, which can be accessed from The Friends of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve’s website in the Citizen Science folder. This data is used and managed by the UW Forest & Wildlife Ecology Professor Jessica Hua’s Lab.
After the data entry was completed and the wildlife was returned to the Lot 60 Bioswale, Will emerged through the compass plants with a great grin on his face, and a small toad in his hands. It was a gratifying conclusion to a wonderful morning. Thank you Will!
Report by Doris Dubielzig and Will Vuyk
Photos by Glenda Denniston