Amphibian Conservation with NBNC
Amphibian Road Crossing Program
Why did the salamander cross the road? To get to the vernal pool! For thousands of years, amphibians have migrated from their upland wintering habitats to lowland wetlands to breed every spring. After wintering deep underground or in a frozen state of torpor, amphibians emerge on warm, wet nights in early spring to begin their march to breeding grounds, often crossing our busy roadways at great peril. Since NBNC began monitoring road crossings in 2005, volunteer crossing guards have helped save thousands of amphibians while proving important information to conservation science and natural resource planners.
The data submitted by our volunteers supports the work of our partners at the Vermont Reptile & Amphibian Atlas, the Vermont Agency of Transportation, and the Vermont Center for Ecostudies. Our findings are also made available to city and town planners and conservation commissions to aid in transportation planning at the local level. As ARC grows, we are cultivating conversations with other amphibian conservation organizations to unify methodologies and expand the regional relevance of all local amphibian conservation work.
How it works
- Volunteers “adopt” a confirmed or suspected amphibian road crossing site that has been identified by NBNC.
- Volunteers visit their site at least three times over the spring on warm rainy nights.
- Volunteers record weather, species, and abundance data using our online form while escorting amphibians safely across the road.
- The data is used by NBNC and partners to understand amphibian movement, prioritize road crossing sites in our communities, and influence road improvement projects.
Other Ways to Help Amphibians with NBNC
NBNC works with volunteers to protect Vermont amphibians in other ways:
Informational Community Trainings: NBNC gives amphibian ecology presentations and road rescue trainings in the form of indoor, evening workshops. Since 2005, NBNC has offered these programs in over 50 locations across Vermont and has trained over 400 residents in amphibian identification, data collection, and rescue protocols. NBNC also offers “pop-up” public programs at known crossing sites to train volunteers and welcome visitors in the field. Email us to set up a training.
Vernal Pool Monitoring: NBNC partners with the Vermont Center for Ecostudies to identify and monitor vernal pools (ephemeral wetlands that are critical breeding and nursery grounds to many amphibian species). These remote sites require regular spring monitoring by dedicated volunteers. NBNC seeks volunteers, students, and teachers to participate in the VCE Vernal Pool Monitoring Program.