Frogs, Lizards, and Snakes, Oh My! A BioBlitz with Herpetologist Lauren Fuchs

               One of the many benefits of BRMNAP’s Fellowship Program is the constant influx of experts in all manner of fields. This year’s Natural Science Fellow, Lauren Fuchs is a connoisseur of all things slimy and scaled, so we knew we had to ask her to lead a herp-focused BioBlitz during her time at the Preserve. On a chilly morning this September, twenty-plus eager citizen scientists gathered behind a single mission: Find and document as many herp (reptile and amphibian) species as possible!

Young Blitzer Patrick Smith holds a Red-Spotted Newt!

               The day started slowly with the herps safely tucked away from the cool air. However, as the sun started to warm the forest, more and more reptilian residents made their presence known. Highlights included an uncommon Northern Dusky salamander, no less than 8 Eastern Wormsnakes, and an adorable Spring Peeper frog. Throughout the morning and afternoon, participants carefully rolled logs and rocks and scoured the leaf litter. With Lauren and assistant Erica’s guidance, Blitzers were able to safely locate, identify, and return 29 individual herps from 14 total species!

A wormsnake gets its picture taken while being swabbed for fungal spores to aid in Lauren’s dissertation research

               These images and data have all been uploaded to the Inaturalist App, where they can be utilized for scientific research. BioBlitzes like this one provide critical snapshots of species presence and abundance that inform conservation and management practices. Not to mention, they are a ton of fun!

               Keep an eye on our meetup, facebook, and instagram pages for future guided hike and BioBlitz events. All ages and levels of experience are welcome and encouraged to join! Check out the infographic below for a breakdown of all the species observed.

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