April 09, 2021

Turtles & City Nature Challenge

Happy Spring Volunteers!

We hope you are enjoying the increasing sunshine! We are very excited at the observations coming in! April brings the end of the breeding season for many of our common species. However, we are still in the breeding window for Pacific tree frogs and the breeding season has just begun for western toads and American bullfrogs. And there will still be plenty of tadpoles and larvae to see!

We would like to pass on a request from our partners at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), Dr. Max Lambert. Dr. Lambert is the Aquatic Research Section Manager of the Science Division and Habitat Program of WDFW. If you see any turtles at your ponds, please upload photos of them to iNaturalist. Dr. Lambert is interested in collecting local turtle observations on iNaturalist and we can help in that endeavor! (Note - These photos are not a part of our project, and should not be uploaded to the Amphibians of Washington project.) In our King and Snohomish counties area, the turtles you are most likely to see are non-native to our region - the pond (or red-eared) slider (Trachemys scripta) (see http://slatermuseum.blogspot.com/2012/07/pacific-northwest-turtles.html)

If you want to meet Dr. Lambert over Zoom, he will be joining us for our next Continuing Education Discussion on April 15th at 5:30 to talk about his work and answer your questions! Contact wpzmonitoring1@gmail.com for the link.

Also, we encourage you to join us and participate in City Nature Challenge 2021! Any observations made in all of Snohomish, King and Pierce counties during Friday, April 30 - Monday, May 3 and posted to iNat by Sunday, May 9 will count towards our total observations! So, if your monitoring visit falls during that weekend, please try to post your observations within that next week! And/or make sure to post observations that weekend whatever you are up to outdoors! This year we’re trying to “fill in the gaps” and get some observations in locations we don’t typically get them (you can explore the Seattle-Tacoma CNC 2020 project to see where those gaps are).

You can join the 2021 Seattle-Tacoma City Nature Challenge here (but you don’t need to join for your observations to be included!): https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2021-seattle-tacoma-metropolitan-area

You can explore 2020 Seattle-Tacoma City Nature Challenge observations here: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2020-seattle-tacoma-metropolitan-area

You can learn more about the global event (over 200 cities participating!) here: https://citynaturechallenge.org

Thanks for your monitoring efforts this spring!!

WPZ Amphibian Monitoring Team

Posted on April 09, 2021 00:04 by karorem karorem | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 08, 2021

Welcome to the 2021 Amphibian Monitoring season!

Hello 2021 Amphibian Monitoring volunteers!

We are so excited to see the first observations coming in for the 2021 season! So far there have been observations of long-toed salamanders, northern red-legged frogs, and Pacific tree frogs!

We have also had some beaver activity at several sites! With this activity we have had some questions about beaver observations and iNaturalist. Our Amphibians of Washington project is tracking if beaver activity is occurring when amphibians are observed. This means we want to know if beaver activity is present when you upload your amphibian observations, but we are not seeking any photos or posts of just beaver activity. However, our friends at Beavers Northwest are! If you wish you beaver photos and observations to aid in local beaver tracking then feel free to visit the Beavers Northwest Beaver Tracking Project on iNaturalist. https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/beavers-northwest-beaver-tracking

Keep up the great work and let us know if you have any questions at wpzmonitoring1@gmail.com!

(Please note: We are no longer accepting new volunteers for the 2021 season. If you or others you know are interested in volunteering, please use the interest form on this page to get on the list for the 2022 season!

WPZ Amphibian Monitoring project coordinators and interns
Katie, Josiah, Alexi and Masha

Posted on February 08, 2021 22:59 by karorem karorem | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 22, 2020

2020 End-of-Season Celebration!

Woodland Park Zoo’s Amphibian Monitoring Community Science Program
2020 Report & Celebration

Tuesday, September 29 from 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. Seattle time (online)

Please join Woodland Park Zoo staff and community science volunteers to hear about our 2020 Amphibian Monitoring season.

Since 2012, WPZ has recruited, trained and coordinated community members each year to collect data on amphibian egg masses throughout King and Snohomish counties. The WDFW-developed data collection protocol focuses on presence/absence data on egg masses of eight amphibian species in wetlands throughout western Washington State. The eight species include: western toad, rough-skinned newt, northwestern salamander, long-toed salamander, northern red-legged frog, Pacific tree frog, Oregon spotted frog, and American bullfrog (non-native).

As you can imagine, 2020 was an unusual season for us, but we are excited about the observations we made of amphibians in local wetlands despite the challenges. Join us to hear about our successes and to learn how to get involved!

If you'd like to join and need further details, please email monitoring@zoo.org

  • Katie, Woodland Park Zoo

Posted on September 22, 2020 15:36 by karorem karorem | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 28, 2020

Helping to identify City Nature Challenge observations and wildilfe camera trap photos!

Hello all - We hope you are taking care of yourselves and finding your way to enjoy nature during this time.

Many observations have been, and continue to be, uploaded for City Nature Challenge 2020. We invite you to check out the observations and help people to identify their finds! The project is here:

Also, Woodland Park Zoo has uploaded camera trap photos from both our Seattle Urban Carnivore Project and our Washington Wolverine Project to Zooniverse, where you can browse and help to identify animals in the photos! We need all the help we can get to add IDs to these photos, so please share with your friends and family too!

Katie, Woodland Park Zoo

Posted on April 28, 2020 21:40 by karorem karorem | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 02, 2020

City Nature Challenge 2020 - web-based orientation/discussion


We hope you all are staying well during these difficult times.

We wanted to let you know about an opportunity coming up later this month that you might be interested in!

City Nature Challenge 2020 – April 24-27
In light of the recent global health situation, the organizers of City Nature Challenge (CNC) – a global urban nature observation weekend – have made some shifts to the event. This year’s CNC is no longer a competition. Instead, we want to embrace the healing power of nature and encourage the collaborative aspect of the CNC. There are many different ways you can participate in this event, while following public health guidelines provided by your local government. Please see www.zoo.org/conservation/naturechallenge and www.citynaturechallenge.org for details. We hope you find joy in observing your local nature this spring, even if that means looking out your windows or in your own backyard! (Please note that this is a global event; if you choose to participate, it is not considered as volunteer hours for Woodland Park Zoo.)

We invite you to join us for a web-based orientation and discussion on City Nature Challenge 2020:

Observing nearby nature in the Seattle-Tacoma area - City Nature Challenge 2020
Date: Friday, April 17, 2020
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.
To register: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/u5ctcuiorTMrUmnJ6RCsy9dx89Rn8CZ3_w
Hosted by Katie Remine, Living Northwest Conservation Coordinator and Kelly Lindmark, Learning Facilitator, Woodland Park Zoo and Leshell Bergen, Conservation Engagement Coordinator, Pt. Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Woodland Park Zoo and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium are thrilled to help mobilize people across the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area (all of Snohomish, King and Pierce counties) to join the City Nature Challenge – a nature observation event using the iNaturalist app. Celebrate Earth Day 2020 by participating in City Nature Challenge!

The City Nature Challenge will take place in two parts:

  • April 24 - 27 - Observe! Take and upload pictures of wild plants and animals
  • April 28 - May 4 - Identify! Help identify what was found
    You can support this effort by being an observer, helping others identify their observations, or better yet - both!

Are you interested in participating in City Nature Challenge 2020? Do you want to help motivate other people to participate? What questions do you have about participating in City Nature Challenge in light of current public health guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

In this web-based meeting, Woodland Park Zoo staff will lead you through an introduction to the online biodiversity observation tool, iNaturalist. We will share tips for making and documenting observations of the many wild birds, bugs and plants that call our area home. You will also learn how to help your family, friends and others in your community participate in City Nature Challenge. We will provide time for discussion about how to participate, and how to help others participate, in City Nature Challenge safely in light of our current global health situation. Let’s see how much nature we can observe, in a way that is safe for our health, in the greater Seattle area in one weekend!

Katie & Josiah
Woodland Park Zoo – Amphibian Monitoring

Posted on April 02, 2020 00:26 by karorem karorem | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 07, 2020

Gearing up for the 2020 Season!

Hello Amphibian Monitoring volunteers!
After a successful Amphibian Monitoring program in 2019 we are excited to bump our monitoring season up a few weeks to try and observe some of our early egg laying amphibian friends this year. We are asking all returning volunteers to meet us on the 25 of January to pick up your monitoring kits and to stick around for an observation protocol refresher course. Of course you are more than welcome to attend a full training this year as well. We are hosting an online training on the 14th of January as well.

If you have no received an email from us and want to know more about the training and 2020 season, please email us at monitoring@zoo.org.

Woodland Park Zoo Amphibian Monitoring team - Katie and Josiah

Posted on January 07, 2020 22:38 by karorem karorem | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 02, 2018

A Walk in the Woods with Amphibians by Amy Yahnke, PhD

Amy Yahnke, Senior Ecologist at the Department of Ecology, has brought her incredible knowledge base about amphibians to our February Amphibian Monitoring training at Camp Long as well as to the Hazel Wolf Wetlands monitoring team! Below is an account of her experience with Amphibian Monitoring, including some fantastic in-depth info on some of the amphibians her team encountered.

After spending eight years studying amphibians for my graduate work, I still have dreams about being in the field searching for amphibians. I always wake up from those dreams missing that feeling of standing in a wetland in my chest waders and spotting a pair of ranid eyes watching me from just above the water surface. I was excited to join the Woodland Park Zoo Amphibian Monitoring Project and get a chance to be in the field searching for amphibians again. Volunteer amphibian monitoring is great fun plus it allows members of our community the opportunity to make a valuable contribution to Puget Sound environmental science.

I joined the Hazel Wolf monitoring team because the wetland is located near where I did my Master’s work studying amphibians in stormwater ponds. I was unfamiliar with the site and curious about its amphibian population. Hazel Wolf is a large, beaver-impounded wetland in Sammamish with a trail that loops around it through upland forest and, in some places, through the wetland. Diana and Valerie Koch have been the primary survey team for this wetland for several years. Their approach is primarily a “light touch” survey along the trail. Light touch means that we walk the trail and check in the surrounding leaf litter and look under logs, at the base of sword ferns, bushes, and trees for amphibians that might be hiding there. In this approach, anything that is over-turned or disturbed is replaced as close to its original position and level of cover as possible.

The light touch approach is a little different than the standard “walk around the edge of the wetland” approach that we normally use to look for amphibian egg masses. Using light touch at Hazel Wolf is necessary because the edge of the wetland is not accessible in many places and it can be difficult (not to mention destructive) to walk through the wetland the whole time. We also look in the water where the trail passes through the wetland, but much of the trail is through the surrounding upland forest. Because we use light touch along the trail at Hazel Wolf, we actually have the opportunity to meet some species or life stages that we might not normally see during a day-time survey around a wetland’s edge. The last two survey outings were quite fruitful in this way.

I knew that our surveys in the upland along the trail might turn up a couple of salamander species we didn’t learn about in the training because they don’t breed in the wetland, and sure enough on our survey in March, we found one of our terrestrial-breeding salamanders, Ensatina (Ensatina eschscholtzii). Ensatinas can be found hiding under a variety of covers in upland forests, including in piles of rocks or debris, under logs, or under the skirts of sword ferns. Sometimes they will hang out and let you get a picture, and other times they will quickly disappear down channels in the soil or through leaf litter. Ensatinas are generally of a pretty uniform, orange-brown color. One sure way to tell Ensatinas from the variety of other salamanders we can find hiding in similar places is that there is a pinch at the base of their fat little tails. That’s where they are able to drop their tails and make their escape if a cunning predator happens to grab hold. It’s a common defense mechanism of lizards and salamanders, and Ensatinas have that ready-made spot at the base of their tails to be able to make a clean break for it, literally.

During our survey in April we found several different types of amphibians along the upland trail that do breed in wetlands and were included in our training. We found several Northern Pacific Treefrogs (Pseudacris regilla) that almost ran the full gamut of the color variation expressed by that species. One Northern Pacific Treefrog was even trying to fool us into thinking it was a Northern Red-legged Frog, but those rounded toe-tips and that fancy eye mask gave it away. It got away before we could get a good picture.
Valerie scored big finding two species in life stages that I had not seen in the upland forest habitat before. The first was a juvenile Rough-skinned Newt (Taricha granulosa) hiding under some leaf litter. It was especially exciting to see because it’s a life stage for which we don’t have a lot of data on the newts. We know where adults like to hang out, and we know where they breed, but there’s a gap in our knowledge for where they go and what they do between metamorphosis and adulthood.

The second was an adult Long-toed Salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum), also hiding in the leaf litter at the base of a tree. I have seen Long-toed Salamanders in the water at night during the breeding season (January-February in our area) and I have heard many stories of them being found under plant pots on peoples’ patios, but I had never seen one out of the water. I had to double check the identification because the other terrestrial salamander that might inhabit the forest around Hazel Wolf, Western Red-backed Salamanders (Plethodon vehiculum), can look similar. Long-toed Salamanders have a distinctive yellow stripe along the middle of their backs (a dorsal stripe). Western Red-backed Salamanders also have a distinctive dorsal stripe; it tends to be more red or orange, though it can be yellow. Long-toed Salamanders are mole salamanders, “ambystomatids” and Western Red-backed Salamanders are lungless salamanders, “plethodontids”. The mole salamanders tend to be a bit chunkier in build than the plethodontids, which tend to be long and slender. Long-toed Salamanders also, as their name implies, have one toe on the hind foot that is longer than the others. The dorsal stripe on adult Long-toed Salamanders can tend to break up as it extends down the tail, whereas the dorsal stripe of the Western Red-backed Salamander remains solid to the tip of the tail. And the Long-toed Salamander, like its ambystomatid relative the Northwestern Salamander (Ambystoma gracile), has very distinct costal grooves or ribbing along its sides. Using those traits as my clues, I was pretty confident the find was a Long-toed Salamander adult.

We also found an adult Northwestern Salamander hiding in a channel in the soil along the path. Another mole salamander, Northwestern Salamanders are the species that lay those dense, oval egg masses that are usually wrapped around a stem or branch and tend to be visible long after they have hatched. The terrestrial adults are generally dark in overall color and they have two large parotoid glands on their heads, located behind their eyes. The really cool thing about Northwestern Salamanders is that they take two forms as adults. Some metamorphose and become terrestrial adults, like the one that we found. Those move into the surrounding upland after metamorphosis and hide in the substrate or under cover objects. The second form is an aquatic form. Those are neotenic or larviform adults that maintain their larval gills and remain in the water. They can be dark in color like the terrestrial form adults, but they can also have a variety of coloration, including a greenish background with dark spots. They occur in wetlands with permanent water. If you ever see a really large salamander with big, thick gills swimming around in the water, that’s a Northwestern Salamander neotene- a reproductive adult that kept its larval gills to take advantage of all the resources a permanent body of water can offer.

It is so exciting to be back in the field hanging out with amphibians again. I love that we have this opportunity for citizens to get involved with these fascinating critters. I’m looking forward to seeing how this program will grow and inspire even more intrepid amphibian enthusiasts, animal lovers, environmental stewards, budding scientists, and interested community members to join in the cause and the fun.

Posted on May 02, 2018 00:03 by jennymears jennymears | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 20, 2018

Join us for City Nature Challenge: April 27–30, 2018!

Woodland Park Zoo is thrilled to help mobilize people across the Seattle metropolitan area (all of Snohomish, King and Pierce counties) to join the City Nature Challenge – a friendly nature-observation competition using iNaturalist! Whether your Amphibian Monitoring team is monitoring your site during that time period or you’re using iNaturalist to record your own personal wildlife observations, we hope you’ll join the City Nature Challenge!

You can support this effort by being an observer, helping others identify their observations, or better yet – both!

To be an observer:

  1. If you haven’t already, download the free iNaturalist app to your Android or iPhone (lots of helpful info on the iNaturalist website: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/getting+started)
  2. Join the 2018 City Nature Challenge: Seattle Metropolitan Area iNaturalist project: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2018-seattle-metropolitan-area
  3. Take photos of wild plants, animals and fungi in the Seattle metro area
    • Only species in the wild count for this competition! Cultivated plants in a garden or non-native animals at the zoo won’t be counted as observations for City Nature Challenge.

  4. Upload your photos to iNaturalist – from your mobile device or via your computer (photos of amphibians can and should also be uploaded to Amphibians of Washington!)
  5. Learn more as the iNaturalist community helps identify your observations
To help identify observations:
  1. Download the free iNaturalist app to your Android or iPhone
  2. Join the 2018 City Nature Challenge: Seattle Metropolitan Area iNaturalist project: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2018-seattle-metropolitan-area
  3. Identify observations to species level. Try searching iNaturalist for observations without identifications or for observations that still need to get down to species.

Check your local library branch, nature center, park, zoo or aquarium to learn of events you can join during the City Nature Challenge weekend to log observations with others! Here are a few options to get you started:

Woodland Park Zoo
We encourage you to come to Woodland Park Zoo and help us contribute observations of the diverse native animals – such as birds and insects – that frequent our zoo grounds!

Pt. Defiance Park Bioblitz
April 27-28, 2:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Point Defiance Park, Tacoma, WA
All volunteer shifts full!

SHADOW Lake Nature Preserve Bioblitz
April 28, 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Explore the Nature Preserve, spot wildlife, and record your sightings at SHADOW’s first Bioblitz.

Seattle Public Libraries
Wallingford Branch
Saturday, April 28, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Woodland Park Zoo staff will be available to show you how to use the app and get you started logging observations of local animals and plants!
More info here: https://www.spl.org/event-calendar
Green Lake Branch
Saturday, April 28, 11:00 a.m.– 1:00 p.m.
Let’s get wild! Meet at the Green Lake Library to explore and observe wildlife at the park as part of the City Nature Challenge.
More info here!: https://www.spl.org/event-calendar

Seward Park Bioblitz
Sunday, April 29, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Info and RSVP: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/seward-park-bioblitz-tickets-45067561289

City Nature Challenge Education Toolkit
Are you a teacher or an educator?
Here’s a toolkit just for you!

Posted on April 20, 2018 18:45 by jennymears jennymears | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 07, 2017

Meet Chris Anderson, WDFW Wildlife Biologist and Amphibians of Washington curator!

Hello! Please enjoy reading more about one of our curators: Chris Anderson, WDFW Wildlife Biologist (most of you met him at our February training):

Chris Anderson District Wildlife Biologist King Co.; Project team member of WDFW-Woodland Park Zoo Amphibian Project; now the Amphibians of Washington iNaturalist Project.

Grew up chasing frogs and watersnakes; rat snakes and box turtles in the Midwest and Plains. Got interested in herps professionally working on amphibian use surveys of mitigation ponds (diary) but never took off...alas, birds called...chirped to me - academically in specialization... But herps are darn cool so got back into it with enthusiasts, peers and coworkers now all interested in what is around us...what can we do...what can we learn and discover for ourselves and all...quite a bit as a team! I have worked with herps in WA for land use due diligence management in the private sector and at WDFW; in general survey and with cities and counties regarding management of populations; but also related to conservation in light of a human built environment in management planning efforts with local municipal planners via the Growth Management Act.

I'm really excited for this effort involving all ages and stages; where this data and also our fellowship and pursuit of amphibian endeavors can build-up amphibian awareness, knowledge, conservation, friendship and support amongst us and our neighbors.

Thanks for all that you do.

Posted on June 07, 2017 20:54 by jennymears jennymears | 1 comment | Leave a comment

June 01, 2017

Exciting news from one of our Amphibian Monitoring volunteers!


One of our fellow Amphibian Monitoring voluneers has been sharing the impact that iNaturalist has had on her volunteering and wildlife observations, and I was so inspired I asked to share her experiences with you! Here's the news from conwaysuz:

Custom Field Guides: In addition to volunteering Amphibian Monitoring, I also volunteer at Camano Island and Cama Beach State Parks. As soon as I learned about iNat I zoomed the map into the parks to see what campers have recorded. There aren't many sightings yet, but that gave me an idea. Why not use iNat to create custom field guides for the parks? I shared my idea with the park rangers and they liked it. Our parks are lucky to have had Beach Watchers (rebranded as Sound Water Stewards) monitoring for many years so they have very long "life lists" of marine organisms. The rangers and I decided to create two kinds of guides: for the citizen scientists each park has an “All Species” list that will likely eventually have over 200 plants and animals; for the casual park visitors we have more manageable lists with only about 60 “Common” species. To view our guides: from the top menu bar go to “Guides” (on the phone app it’s under “More”), then search on “Cama”.

If you are interested in doing something similar for your favorite park or wildlife area, even though you don't officially need permission to create a guide, I suggest as a courtesy to the land managers that you share your proposal with the staff and get their OK. They'll be able to help you with the list, and there might be threatened or endangered species they don't want to advertise.

First to Find: Here's my other exciting iNat news. During a recent shrimping trip we pulled up a cute little crab. I quickly snapped a photo so I could ID and upload it later. Back home I Binged and Googled lots of crab but couldn’t find my crab so I turned to Facebook. Several people thought it was a Cryptic Kelp Crab, Pugettia richii, but I wasn't convinced--my crab had "bloops" near its head and richii has distinct “points”. I decided to enter my crab into iNaturalist as a generic “True Crab”. The next day I decided to go with my FB peeps and edited the name to “Cryptic Kelp Crab”. The next day I chicken out and backed off the ID in iNaturalist to something from the “Pugettia genus”. Finally, a crab expert IDed my crab as a Pacific Lyre Crab (in a totally different family). It turns out I’m the first person in the iNat world to have that crab verified so I got to make my photo "the" species photo! Check it out here: www.inaturalist.org/taxa/459591-Hyas-lyratus

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences, conwaysuz!

Posted on June 01, 2017 20:56 by jennymears jennymears | 0 comments | Leave a comment