Calling Amphibian Monitoring Project (CAMP)

The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ coordinates the statewide Calling Amphibian Monitoring Program (CAMP). The object of this program is to assess the distribution, abundance, and health of New Jersey’s amphibians. This is part of a larger initiative called the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program (NAAMP) and the data collected in New Jersey will be submitted into the National database.


Each of the 16 species of frogs and toads in New Jersey has a unique vocalization or “call” that can be heard during their mating season.

Here’s a list and call quiz of the Frogs in New Jersey:
Eastern Spadefoot (Scaphiopus holbrookii)
American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus)
Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri)
Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans)
Pine Barrens Treefrog (Hyla andersonii)
Green Treefrog (Hyla cinerea)
Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor)
unknown gray treefrog species (Hyla chrysoscelis/versicolor)
Cope’s Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis)
Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)
New Jersey Chorus Frog (Pseudacris kalmi)
American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)
Carpenter Frog (Lithobates virgatipes)
Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans)
Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus)
Southern Leopard Frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus)
Pickerel Frog (Lithobates palustris)

The Amphibians that are listed as Endangered or Threatened in New Jersey:

Endangered Amphibians
Salamander, blue-spotted – Ambystoma laterale
Salamander, eastern tiger – Ambystoma tigrinum
Treefrog, southern gray – Hyla chrysocelis

Threatened Amphibians
Salamander, eastern mud – Pseudotriton montanus
Salamander, long-tailed – Eurycea longicauda
Treefrog, pine barrens – Hyla andersonii

Volunteers participating in the CAMP project conduct roadside surveys (after dusk) for calling amphibians along designated routes throughout the state. Each 15-mile route is surveyed three times during the spring (March, April & June), during the given four week period. Each route has 10 stops, where you stop, listen and record for 5 minutes. A structured protocol is followed to determine which nights to survey, how long to survey, which species are calling, and how to estimate the total number of individuals calling at each site. All volunteers receive a Calls of NJ Frogs and Toads, CD with which to familiarize themselves with the calls.

The results of these surveys will provide ENSP (Endangered and Nongame Species Program) and the United States Geological Survey with valuable data on the calling amphibian populations in New Jersey. Because each route will be surveyed at the same time and for the same amount of time, routes can be directly compared within a given year and between years. This allows for trends in populations to be identified over time and if needed steps may be taken to protect these populations in the near future.

— Larissa Smith, Biologist/Volunteer Manager, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ


Rainy Nights in Georgia (and Texas, Florida, and New Jersey) Help Frogs

Susan posed an interesting question to me yesterday. How has the record rainfall in the U.S. effected our amphibian friends? Humans have been somewhat inconvenienced by the cool, rainy summer of ’09—canceled picnics, damp weddings, rainy vacations, and decreased sales of ice cream. But as I’ve found out, all this rain has been a boon for amphibians. Here are a few stories from around the country:

Georgia: This summer Southwest Georgia was soaked with rain, but this helped researchers with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, who released over 1000 gopher frog tadpoles in a seasonal pond at a Nature Conservancy site. These rare stubby, nocturnal frogs spend most of their lives in gopher tortoise burrows and are found almost exclusively in the Coastal Plain’s longleaf pine ecosystem.The water level of the release pond was at its highest level ever, which will help the tadpoles survive, according to an article on the Early County News, GA website.

West Texas: It’s usually pretty hot and arid in the summer in West Texas. But in an article in the Odessa American (TX), Ken Broadnax explains how this dry land can be temporarily transformed into a wetlands. The playas, dry areas with hard clay bottoms, can store water for months. Amphibians bury themselves in the playa, emerging only when conditions are right. After a storm, within a day or two, the male toads emerge and begin their calls, seeking a mate. This summer, West Texans are hearing the unfamiliar sounds of croaking toads.

Florida: According to the AccuWeather blog, rainstorms around Memorial Day caused an excess of standing water, which created a breeding haven for the 30+ species of frogs in Florida. These rain-filled ponds called vernal pools lack fish because they eventually dry up, and so they are ideal nurseries for tadpoles (fish eat tadpoles). All those baby tadpoles from spring are now adult frogs—and there are lots of them. Frog calls are most abundant in the mating season, but they can be heard year-round in Florida for some species. So that’s why some Floridians are being kept awake this summer by the high-pitched calls of the Ornate Chorus Frogs, among other frog choirs.

Ornate Chorus Frog, photograph by Rebecca Meegan, Coastal Plains Institute and Land Conservancy

Ornate Chorus Frog, photograph by Rebecca Meegan, Coastal Plains Institute and Land Conservancy

New Jersey: This summer has been so wet in New Jersey that I’ve rarely had to water my garden. In the early summer, we found a slug in our kitchen almost every night. Maybe even the slugs were tired of the rain. While this rainy weather was depressing (it’s over, thank goodness), it was great for New Jersey amphibians like the endangered Pine Barrens tree frog, as reported in the Press of Atlantic City. The Nature Conservancy recently acquired some land in the Pine Barrens that contains many vernal ponds. Because of the record rainfall, one of these ponds now measures 30 feet, providing an excellent breeding area for the endangered tree frog.Vernal pools are disappearing throughout New Jersey because of overdevelopment. That gave me an idea…perhaps we can convince The Boss (aka Bruce Springsteen) to get involved in our cause!

Have you noticed an increase in frogs and toads in your area due to record rainfall?