Amphibian Occupancy Monitoring in Elk Island National Park
Summary by Jane Driedger, Resource Management Officer I, Elk Island National Park - May 13, 2021
The Amphibian Occupancy Monitoring Project was developed in the winter of 2015-2016 by Jane Driedger, resource management officer at Elk Island National Park (EINP). Unique to this monitoring project was the inclusion of volunteers, allowing for 67 sites to be monitored annually. Study design was based on research of amphibian monitoring in other national parks, particularly Jasper, the USGS Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD), the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute, and local experts. The survey methods chosen are based on the ESRD Sensitive Species Inventory Guidelines. The spring of 2016 was the first year of amphibian occupancy monitoring in EINP. No monitoring was done in 2020 due to the global pandemic. Monitoring is currently underway for 2021.
Because amphibian populations fluctuate widely from year to year, depending on habitat and weather conditions, long-term monitoring is required to detect trends.
Results from amphibian monitoring will contribute to assessing the condition and trend of the Lakes ecosystem indicator for Elk Island National Park.
Between 2016-2019, 43 people have volunteered, putting in 566 hours of work!
The objectives of this monitoring program are to:
1. To estimate the rate at which breeding site occupancy by two native amphibian species- Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) and Boreal Chorus Frog (Pseudacris maculata)- changes over time in Elk Island National Park.
2. To engage volunteers as citizen scientists in amphibian monitoring. (See Amphibian Monitoring Volunteer Handbook for complete details).
Monitoring did not begin until week 16 in 2016, 2017, and 2018. In 2018, waterbodies were still ice covered in week 16 so no frogs were detected that week.
Calling Index codes:
0 = no individuals of a given species heard
1 = individual calls, bot overlapping (estimate of 1-5 individuals of the species calling at a site)
2 = calls are overlapping, but individuals are still distinguishable (estimate of 6 – 10 individuals calling)
3 = numerouse calls can be heard; chorus is constant and overlapping (estimate of >10 individuals)