Sunday, August 30, 2015

Non Washingtion: Helping survey amphibians and reptiles at PFNP

A bit non geology volunteer work that was great fun and part of a remarkable ongoing science survey at Petrified Forest National Park. 
We joined Andy at 6:30 the other evening to make an evening/night drive through the park to catalog amphibians and reptiles on the park road. The road is closed at dusk so we had the road to ourselves. Andy was glad to have another pair of eyes for spotting and assistance in recording. Lisa did the recording and proved to be very superior at spotting. I was not so good at spotting but did pretty good at capture and ok at identification given that I had never identified toads before.
Spea multiplicata Mexican Spadefoot
Spea multiplicata Mexican Spadefoot
showing the spade on the back foot

 Scaphiopus couchi Couch’s Spadefoot

A note on the gloves. Spea multiplca secretes a mild toxin that one does not want in the eyes or mouth. It is easy to wipe off, but we began picking up too many so we got out the gloves.

Phyrnosoma hernandessi
Great short horned lizard

It was good amphibian night as it had rained. Dry nights bring out more reptiles. The amphibians use the road to gather heat but also to soak up water through their skin. The reptiles use the road to soak up heat as well. Hence roads are a positive environment for reptiles and amphibians if it were not for the getting run over. The closing the road at night limits the mortality.

The road surveys are just one of several ongoing surveys that take place in the PFNP. Hard not to be impressed that our one survey night was part of a survey that has been going on for 25 years.

No comments: