Texas Volunteers Needed For Spring 2012 Herp Count

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Texas Volunteers Needed For Spring 2012 Herp Count

Biologists are concerned about last year's drought and heat effects on state's reptiles and amphibians.

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Texas horned lizard. Photo credit: Thinkstock
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American Bullfrog. Photo credit: Thinkstock
eastern box turtle
Eastern box turtle. Photo credit: Thinkstock

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is looking for volunteers to help document a variety of reptiles and amphibians around the Lone Star State. State biologists are concerned about the amphibian and reptile populations this year due in part to the drought and extreme heat the state experienced last year.

Several monitoring programs will enable herpers and volunteers to gather data about specific herps. The Texas Amphibian Watch is looking for volunteers who will go out in the field and provide data on frogs, toads, and salamanders. The volunteers are encouraged to "adopt" a wetland area and listen for the frog and toad calls in the evenings. Audio CDs of what sounds specific species make will be made available to all volunteers of Texas Amphibian Watch, as will a free monitoring packet with detailed instructions on where, when, and how to gather data on amphibians. Of particular note with the Texas Amphibian Watch program is a malformation initiative that encourages volunteers to take detailed notes on the number of malformed as well as normal frogs found during their count. Counting malformed and normal frogs in a specific area will help scientists to determine the number of frogs that are malformed in the local population as well as the potential causes of the malformation. Specific instructions are available on the TPWD website.


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Texas Horned Lizard Watch is also looking for volunteer herpers who can help to gather data on the three species of horned lizards in Texas. Those who wish to participate can download the free monitoring packet that details all the information and instructions necessary to gather data on the lizards. Texas Horned Lizard Watch is hoping that the data gathered by the volunteers will help the state to determine why the lizards have disappeared in certain areas. Texas Horned Lizard Watch is hoping that the data will help the state to form an action plan on helping the species to recover.

Chelonian lovers are needed as well to gather data for the Texas Box Turtle Survey. The state says that both the eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina) and the ornate box turtle (Terrapene ornata ornata)seem to be on the decline in certain parts of the state and volunteers are needed to count them. A sighting report can be downloaded from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website, and a webpage has been set up for volunteers to input their sighting information online.

These programs are part of the state's Texas Nature Tracker Program that is designed to encourage citizens to get involved. The state has also partnered with other organizations to survey freshwater turtles and the spot-tailed earless lizard. Detailed information, monitoring packets audio CDs, and other materials for all the programs can be downloaded at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/trackers.