The Munson Sandhills region of the Apalachicola National Forest, just south of Florida’s capital city Tallahassee, is rich with small, isolated wetlands that hold water only during certain times of the year. Why are these wetlands important? The list is long but one significant reason is that they provide breeding habitat for a suite of amphibians that only breed in these fishless wetlands.
Over the past 50 years, some of these species have declined and one, the striped newt, has all but gone extinct within the Apalachicola National Forest. We are engaging the community to help us keep an eye on these amphibians and the unique wetlands on which they depend. These data contribute important information about species diversity, wetland water levels, and help us detect any declines in amphibian populations early before costly and less effective measures are needed.
We have 50 wetlands enrolled in the program, all of which are located south of Capital Circle in between Springhill Road and Woodville Highway. Fill out a survey and you will be assigned a wetland(s) based on your responses – off a 4WD track or off a paved road, large versus small wetland, kid-friendly or NA, hike in or next to a road, etc. We host monthly training events (wetland conditions dependent) at which you learn sampling methodology, amphibian larvae ID, and data entry. We also provide you access to project-specific field guides and surveying equipment and supplies so you can then go dipnet your wetland while the info is still fresh in your mind. In return, you agree to survey the amphibians in your adopted wetland at least twice a year.
This program is great for citizens of all ages and is very kid and family friendly. It is also great as a team-building activity for businesses, learning experience for school groups, community service and badge-earning activity for Girls scout and Boy scout troops, and an all around good time!