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


10 Frogs Handsome Enough to Kiss

While researching our post The 10 Weirdest and Most Unusual Frogs on Earth , we found so many beautiful frogs we decided to give them their own post. Below are 10 of the handsomest princes of the amphibian world.

1. Red-Eyed Tree Frog (Agalychis callidryas)

This frog might be called The Planet’s Most Beautiful Frog. It has been a pin-up on dozens of wildlife calendars and cards. But its beauty has a purpose—to help it to survive. When at rest, the frog’s eyes are closed. But if disturbed, the sudden appearance of its bright red eyes may startle a predator for a second or two—enough time for the frog to leap away. With its large toe pads and long thin limbs, it can climb trees easily. The Red-Eyed Tree Frog lives in tropical forests from southern Mexico through much of Central America. We used this frog on a poster we created to help spread awareness of the global amphibian crisis (you can download the poster for free):

Red-eyed Tree Frog from IStockPhoto.com

2. Golden toad (Bufo periglenes)

The Golden Toad became extinct 30 years after its discovery in 1976. They were found only in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve of Costa Rica, where hundreds would breed in shallow forest pools. The Golden Toad has become a symbol of  the plight of frogs and toads worldwide—we don’t want other amphibians to suffer the same fate as this beautiful creature.

Golden toad, photo by Charles H. Smith, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

3. White’s tree frog (Litoria caerula)

These handsome frogs seem to have a perpetual smile on their faces. White’s tree frogs are often kept as pets, but they are happiest when left alone in their native home: the woodland and scrub close to water in northeast Australia and New Guinea.

courtesy of www.frognet.org

4. Strawberry poison dart frog (Dendrobates pumilio)

This frog has a bright red head and body speckled with black spots. Because of its blue legs, it is also called the Blue Jeans Frog. Like many brilliantly-colored animals, the frogs’ bright color serves as a warning—Don’t eat me or you’ll be sorry! It forages on the forest floor eating small ants and termites, from which it derives the chemicals needed to synthesize the poison. It lives in tropical rainforests of Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.

5. Ranitomeya amazonica

A recent report from the World Wildlife Fund highlighted the amazing discoveries of the past decade in the Amazonian biome. According to the report, between 1999 and 2009 more than 1,200 new species of plants and vertebrates were discovered in the Amazon – a rate of one new species every three days – confirming the Amazon as one of the most diverse places on Earth.  Ranitomeya amazonica, another beautiful poision dart frog , is one of the most extraordinary of these newly discovered species. Its main habitat is lowland moist forest near the Iquitos area in Peru.

photo copyright AFP/HO/File/Lars K

6. Malagasy Rainbow Frog (Scaphiophryne gottlebei)

One of the most beautiful of the Madagascan frogs, the Malagasy Rainbow Frog  is adapted for a burrowing lifestyle. It is able to live under the ground for up to 10 months.  But it also has claws on its forefeet to help it cling to vertical canyon walls to escape floods or predators.  Unfortunately thousands of these frogs are captured every year for the pet trade.

image from Wikipedia, by Franco Andreone

7. Venezuelan Glass Frog (Cochranella helenae)

This lovely frog, native to the subtropical or tropical most lowland forests and rivers of Venezuela has translucent skin, to help hide it among the leaves.

Photo by Cesar Luis Barrio Amoros, courtesy of Amphibian Ark

8. Tiger frog (Hyloscritus tigrinis)

The Tiger Frog was discovered in 2007 in Southwestern Colombian. Little is known about the frog except that it is not believed to be toxic. Rather with its bright coloring, the frog seems to be mimicking other poisonous animals to deter predators. This gorgeous frog is threatened by destruction of the forests where it lives.

photo copyright Francisco Jose Lopez-Lopez, courtesy of www.arkive.org

9. Harlequin frogs (Atelopus varius)

Harlequin frogs are usually black or brown with spots or streaks that can be a combination of yellow, orange, red, blue, or green.  They live in the moist, tropical forests in Central and southwestern South America. About two-thirds of over 110 species of these brightly-colored frogs have vanished since the 1980s. Their decline is attributed to the destruction of their native forests, collection by the pet trade, and fungal infection (chytrid fungus).

image copyright Forrest Bren for the New York Times

10. Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica)

The Wood Frog’s beauty is more subtle that that of its tropical cousins, yet its colors seems to mimic the color of rocks, bark, and fallen leaves in the forests in which it lives.  This frog is America’s most northernmost species, ranging from northeast USA to the Arctic Circle in Alaska and Canada. Wood Frogs have already begun hibernating. First they find a place under the leaf litter or in a crack in a log or rock to settle for their winter nap. They’ll slowly begin to freeze as soon as temperatures reach the freezing point. Then the frog’s blood will stop flowing, its lungs, heart and muscles will stop functioning, and ice will fill the body cavity: they will go from frog to frogsicle, until they begin to thaw in the warm temperatures of spring.

Wood frog, photo by John Rounds

Some of the information from this post came from Frogs and Toads (a Golden Guide) by Dave Showler, illustrated by Barry Croucher/Wildlife Art Ltd.


Wood Frogs Are (Almost) Celebrating Spring

In October, when we wrote our post Winter Turns Frogs into Frogsicles, the wood frogs and spring peepers had settled down for their long (frozen) winter nap. This blog post from The National Parks Traveler, Frogs are a Sure Sign of Spring, But that Doesn’t Mean You Won’t Hear Them Now, reminds us that even though it’s still winter (at least in the Northeast), it’s almost spring for the wood frogs. As the snow melts and the frogs unfreeze in late winter/early spring,  the young frogs have one thing on their minds: the males start calling immediately to potential mates.

I found this lovely video on YouTube by someone called Mysterious Susan (not our Susan though). It does have a mysterious quality as a reminder of the cycle of life.

Also, check out this blog post, “As Winter Wanes,”  in the East Hampton (Long Island, New York) Star about what songbirds, salamanders, and other animals are up to as we approach spring and the daylight hours get longer every day.


Winter Turns Frogs into Frogsicles

This past Sunday, my husband and I went for long hike in Harriman State Park in New York. In late March and early April, the sound of the spring peepers is deafening. But the other day we heard only one or two peepers. I did a little research to find out what happens to the peepers in the fall and winter. What exactly do they do from now until early spring?

Wood Frog

Wood Frog

Frogs and toads have evolved strategies to survive freezing temperatures. Wood frogs and spring peepers actually become a “frogsicle,” as Larry Lyons explains in his article, “All the Frogs Will Soon be Frogsicles” in the Niles (MI) Daily Star. The frogs will soon find a place under the leaf litter or in a crack in a log or rock to settle for their winter nap. They’ll slowly begin to freeze as soon as temperatures reach the freezing point. The frog’s blood stops flowing, its lungs, heart and muscles stop functioning, and ice fills the body cavity. As Niles writes, “We now have a frogsicle in suspended animation.”

About 65% of the frog is frozen. It manufactures large amounts of blood sugar that serve as anti-freeze, preventing ice damage to its organs. When spring temperatures are consistently above freezing, they begin to thaw out and break out in a chorus of frog calls (as mating season begins).

What about other frogs and toads? Toads dig a burrow under the frost line, where they go into a mild state of hibernation. Their metabolism slows down and they no longer need food or water. Aquatic frogs such as green frogs go into what’s called a state of torpor. They descend to oxygen rich deep water, find a hiding place, and don’t move around much until the spring comes.

Perhaps we are more like animals than we care to admit. I know I slow down in late fall and hibernate until spring!


Frogs of Summer: Wood Frog

Sometimes it seems that the charismatic frogs get all the attention (like our mascot, the red-eyed tree frog). But the more ordinary frogs with muted colors have a beauty all their own.

Recently, my husband John and younger son Tim took a trip to New Hampshire where it rained every day. But all this rain brought out—you guessed it—lots of frogs and toads. My husband took this picture of a Wood Frog near Lookout Ledge in Randolph, New Hampshire (in the White Mountains). Unfortunately because he’s my husband, he’s disqualified from entering the Frogs Are Green photo contest!

Wood Frog, photo copyright John Rounds

Wood Frog, photo copyright John Rounds

Despite the rainy vacation, I’m glad my husband was able to get this beautiful photo. He took the picture on a hike on the one slightly sunny afternoon they had, using an ordinary point-and-shoot digital camera and a flash.

Here’s information about Wood Frogs:

Wood Frogs live in Northeastern US and most of Canada. In the winter they hibernate in places where it goes well below freezing—the water in their bodies freezes solid. This ability allows the Wood Frog to live further north than any other reptile or amphibian in North America. It is easily recognized by the dark mask around its eyes and the prominent ridges along its back.