Pacific Newt Roadkill (Main Project)- Lexington Reservoir's Journal

March 07, 2021

Saving Salamanders with Citizen Science

Jonathan Kolby contacted me regarding a new salamander disease that is quickly spreading around the world and he's using iNat data to figure out where it's going. If you find a sick salamander in the wild, please take pictures and upload them to his project:

The emerging infectious disease he is specifically worried about is caused by a species of chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, or "Bsal") and the faster they can detect its spread into a new region, the greater hope there is to protect salamanders from disease, decline, and extinction.

Here's his video:

I've given him links to our projects to peruse.

Posted on March 07, 2021 22:07 by truthseqr truthseqr | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Roadkill rates fall dramatically as lockdown keeps drivers at home

This National Geographic article mentions our friend, Dr. Fraser Shilling of the UC Davis Road Ecology Center.

"As Americans stayed home in March and April, vehicle deaths declined up to 58 percent among large species like mountain lions, a new report says."

Posted on March 07, 2021 20:09 by truthseqr truthseqr | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 28, 2020

Pacific Newt Roadkill & Traffic Patterns (2019-2020)

Slow-moving amphibians are particularly vulnerable to road-related mortality. Our team has documented massive Pacific Newt roadkill on Alma Bridge Rd. at Lexington Reservoir, CA since 2017.

In order to devise effective mitigation strategies to help the newts cross the road safely, it's important to understand traffic patterns in this area. We know that certain agencies have been collecting traffic data on Alma Bridge Rd., but we've been unable to obtain their data. So we started collecting our own data in 2019. However, our data are snapshots of mostly 2-hr windows of time during daylight hours two times per week. What we need is 24-hr surveillance 7 days/week over a period of months so that we can correlate newt roadkill with traffic patterns.

Who uses this road?
Residents, hikers, bikers, boaters, equestrians, Santa Clara County (SCC) Parks and Midpen rangers, PG&E, Vulcan Materials Co., San Jose Water Co., Los Gatos Rowing Club, UCSC Puma Project.

What We Know

  • Traffic is much heavier in the (recreational) northern half of Alma Bridge Rd. during daylight hours. Traffic is lighter in the (residential) southern half of the road.
    ** Our team documented a total of 1,469 motor vehicles during 55 surveys last year; 882 in the north; 587 in the south.
    ** 1,223 motor vehicles have been documented during 19 surveys this year; 922 in the north; 426 in the south.

  • The northern half of Alma Bridge Rd. includes 3 open space trailheads, 2 boat launch sites, the Vulcan Materials quarry road, 4 parking lots, and miles of roadside parking.
  • The southern half of Alma Bridge Rd. includes the SCC Water facility and many residences, including those along Soda Spring Rd., as well as miles of roadside parking.
  • Alma Bridge Rd. provides both northern & southern access to Highway 17.
  • Posted speed limit is 25 mph, 15 mph around curves. However, many motorists exceed the speed limits.
  • 8 Newt Crossing signs were installed by County Roads in 2019. However, they were not successful in reducing the newt roadkill.
  • [placeholder - need to replace with population data for Lexington] Human populations in Santa Cruz County increased 39% from 1980 to 2010 (U.S. Census Bureau, 1995; U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). Commuters in the overall Santa Cruz County have increased 43% from 1980 to 2000 (SCCRTC, 2000).
Figure 1 shows the total traffic we've documented on Alma Bridge Rd. during our surveys. It shows heavier daytime traffic on the northern half of the road. Traffic2 What We Suspect
  • Traffic has increased significantly at Lexington Reservoir in recent years due to increased use of recreational facilities and residential expansion in the area.
  • Total vehicle traffic rates are higher during commute hours. Rush-hour traffic may be responsible for nighttime mortality, at least in the southern section of the road.
  • When hundreds of newts are migrating across the road, a single vehicle can have a devastating effect, killing dozens, if not hundreds of newts at a time.
Figure 2 begins to show what we've suspected - traffic has increased significantly over the years. Traffic1 Confounding Issues
  • The Covid-19 Pandemic and associated business closures and lockdown orders have altered traffic patterns in the area since March 2020.
    ** @newtpatrol has noticed a significant increase in traffic in the southern half of our study area on weekdays during 2020 due to COVID-19.

Posted on December 28, 2020 13:14 by truthseqr truthseqr | 3 comments | Leave a comment

November 06, 2020

the yellow vests are here, and possibly some rain!

I got the first yellow vest this week, and today I got 3 more, for the first 3 who ordered. I must say they are gorgeous! If you live in San Jose you can come and pick up yours, or I could send them by mail.
The other thing is that it supposed to rain tonight! I wonder if we should check the road tomorrow morning? Would anyone be interested in doing that? we could meet there, or go separately. If you do go, please write it on the calendar, and also remember not to move any of the newts near the Midpen study. If it's next to their drift fence, just leave it there.
@truthseqr, @newtpatrol, @sea-kangaroo, @anudibranchmom, @joescience1, @karangattu, @tyap

Posted on November 06, 2020 22:13 by merav merav | 10 comments | Leave a comment

October 23, 2020

Amazing Animal Bridges and Crossings Around the World

50 Amazing Animal Bridges And Crossings That Save 1000s Of Animals Every Year:

Posted on October 23, 2020 15:03 by truthseqr truthseqr | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 25, 2020

Road Signs Don't Prevent Newt Roadkill - 5K died in one season after signs were posted

The Santa Clara County Roads Dept. installed 8 "Newt Crossing" signs along Alma Bridge Rd. in 2019. During the 2019-2020 rainy season, 5277 newts were killed on this road (after the signs were installed). Conclusion: road signs are not an effective method of mitigating roadkill.

Posted on September 25, 2020 20:45 by truthseqr truthseqr | 4 comments | Leave a comment

September 18, 2020

Midpen board meeting Wednesday 9/23

@truthseqr, @newtpatrol, @sea-kangaroo, @anudibranchmom, and @joescience1 and everyone else interested -
Midpen is holding a board meeting on Wednesday 9/23, 7 pm, about their newt study and the Beaty parking lot. On the last meeting, 3 board members decided to postpone the plan to build a parking lot and a trail on Alma Bridge Rd., until they get more data about the newt population and mortality. During the next meeting, they will discuss the plan for the newt study (in collaboration with POST and HT Harvey) and the parking lot with the entire board. The board might decide to change the decision, and aprove the parking lot plan. This is highly important, as it will add more traffic to the area, even if the parking lot is closed in winter.
You can find more info about the meeting on their website -
You can read about the newts and the parking lot in the agenda packet, and you can write a public comment here -

Posted on September 18, 2020 22:30 by merav merav | 70 comments | Leave a comment

July 28, 2020

Other roadkill on Lexington Reservoir summary

This journal post is an addition to Anne's post about the newt season summary - 361 observations of 67 species of other roadkills along the Alma Bridge Rd. were documented by @truthseqr, @merav, @newtpatrol, @sea-kangaroo, @anudibranchmom, and @biohexx1. For a presentation I did recently, I've decided to create a couple of figures using the other roadkill data collected as part of the Lexington newt study. I think looking at the first figure, although it's not very informative, as you cannot see the details, it's amazing to see just how many newts die on the road each year, compared with all other animals combined. other_roadkill_1 After removing over 10,000 newts (second figure), you can see the other groups represented more clearly. other_roadkill_2 The largest group is insects, with beetles and hymenopterans (bees and ants) being the most common organisms. There were some interesting seasonal patterns, some organisms were very common during the end of the winter, disappeared later, and were replaced by others. In the winter there were many earthworms, beetles and Jerusalem crickets, for example, and also large millipedes. They were all gone later, and replaced by bees and ants, and many other insects. In addition, in the winter there were many reptiles and other amphibians. Most snakes were found in January and February. Among the other amphibians, we documented frogs and toads, Arboreal Salamanders, Slender Salamanders, and even an Ensatina. Often we were unable to identify them to species. Here's the actual data - for 2 seasons, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 - Newts 10145 Insecta 148 Amphibia 51 Diplopoda 43 Reptilia 29 Mammalia 20 Arachnida 11 Aves 7 Clitellata 7 Vertebrate 7 Gastropoda 5 Chilopoda 2 Actinopterygii 1 Arthropod 1 Broken into smaller groups - Amphibians: American Bullfrog 5 California Toad 3 Frogs and Toads 2 Sierran Tree Frog 4 Typical Frogs 1 Western Toad 23 Arboreal Salamander 5 California Slender Salamander 2 Ensatinas 1 Salamanders 1 Amphibians 4 Reptiles: Aquatic Garter Snake 2 Coast Range Fence Lizard 3 Colubrid Snakes 1 Garter Snakes 4 Ringneck Snake 2 Santa Cruz Aquatic Garter Snake 2 Sharp-tailed Snake 2 Snakes 1 Southern Alligator Lizard 1 Western Alligator Lizards 1 Western Fence Lizard 8 Western Skink 1 Western Whiptail 1 Mammals: Deer 4 Broad-footed Mole 5 California Mouse 1 California Pocket Mouse 1 California Vole 1 Eastern Gray Squirrel 1 North American Deer Mice 1 Rodents 2 Western Gray Squirrel 3 Arthropods: Arachnida - Araneae 6 Opiliones 3 Scorpiones 2 Chilopoda 2 Diplopoda 43 Spirobolida 7 Insects - Coleoptera 46 Diptera 6 Hemiptera 4 Hymenoptera 35 Lepidoptera 23 Orthoptera 34
Posted on July 28, 2020 20:39 by merav merav | 3 comments | Leave a comment

July 26, 2020

2019-2020 Newt Migration Season Summary

This is a summary of our newt roadkill study at Lexington Reservoir, Santa Clara County, CA for the 2019-2020 migration season. This study has been ongoing for two full seasons and part of a third season (2017-2018).

First of all, I'd like to thank our fantastic volunteers - @merav, @newtpatrol, @sea-kangaroo, @anudibranchmom, and @joescience1 - for a job well done!

2019-2020 Newt Migration Season Highlights

• The team recorded 5,292 newt roadkill observations, which is 411 more deaths this season than last. The cumulative death toll is 10,644.

• The team has also recorded 361 observations of 67 other species of animals killed on Alma Bridge Rd.

• 50 data collection surveys were performed this season compared to 42 last season.

• Three times the number of dead juveniles were observed this season compared to last (100 vs. 32). This is important because juvenile deaths have a disproportionate impact on population dynamics.

• The rainy season started later this year and lasted longer than last season: 11/27/19 through 05/20/20 (global warming?)

• It's a widely held misconception that newts only migrate on rainy nights. We have a lot of data to disprove this:

  • During Feb, there were only 2 days of rain (total 0.02 inches), but the team found 904 newt corpses during Feb.
  • Also, we’ve observed and documented 121 newts alive and walking around during the daytime.
  • It seems the only time we find no dead newts on the road during the 5-month migration season is when the temperature drops below 40 degrees F and there’s snow on the mountains.

Here's our umbrella project from which you can access all the subprojects (e.g., newt roadkill for each season, juvenile deaths, live & injured newts, and our decomposition study data):


Posted on July 26, 2020 02:22 by truthseqr truthseqr | 28 comments | Leave a comment

July 25, 2020

Added a new subproject: Pacific Newts (Dead Juveniles)

I added a new subproject to track the number of juvenile Pacific Newts found on Alma Bridge Road, since juvenile mortality has a disproportionate impact on population dynamics.

Pacific Newts (Dead Juveniles) - Lexington Reservoir Area

Posted on July 25, 2020 13:53 by truthseqr truthseqr | 0 comments | Leave a comment