Photo: Melanie Foose
Spring and Citizen Science!
This past Monday was my favorite day of the year. It wasn’t a special holiday and there was no elaborate celebration, but it’s a day I wait for with high anticipation each and every Spring. Days
like this usually arrive in March when you finally feel spring in the air. You can smell it float on the warm breeze and you know that the growing season has arrived. This year, we had to wait patiently for Mother Nature to bring us springtime temperatures, and hopefully they're here to stay!
One of the best things about Spring is when amphibians and reptiles come out of hibernation. Salamanders, lizards, frogs, toads, snakes, and turtles emerge from their wintertime rest to bask, feed, and begin to prepare for another season. Now that they're here it won't be long before they start moving around.
Keep aware and watch for them crossing roads. You may find salamanders slithering across roads on rainy nights, frogs hopping in the misty air, and turtles moving to find food, mates and suitable nesting sites.
If you do find any amphibian or reptile hanging around, snap a photo and share your observations with other wildlife enthusiasts by entering it into Michigan’s Herp Atlas!
The Herp Atlas is a great way to document your observations of reptiles and amphibians and the information can be used by scientists and citizen scientists alike to track any number of variables. Location information documents the range of a given species, dates of observation gives insight into the timeline of
emergence, critical for climate change modeling, and multiple photographs provide a look at identifying features of each species.
There is a need for data throughout the entire state, although some counties have far fewer observations than others. Its easy to sign up and enter your information, photographs, and map a location.
Give it a try!
Citizen Science is a worthy and honorable use of our time, skills, and the input of us all can really make a difference!
To sign up and begin entering your own observations into the Herp Atlas:
Information on Michigan’s Reptiles and Amphibians – DNR:
Michigan Society of Herpetologists – Michigan Reptiles and Amphibians Identification Guide:
Citizen Science Alliance: