Thursday, May 30, 2013

Amphibian Survey: Froggin' and Loggin'!

April 19, 2013

Amphibians are a great indicator species, meaning that scientists look to them for clues when they want to know about certain habitats.  Certain plant, insect, and animal species can give scientists great information about an environment because they only tolerate a narrow range of conditions.  Frogs are a great one, they are very sensitive to certain contaminants and are picky about the kinds of places they choose to live.

In the week leading up to Global Youth Service Day, UW-T and First Creek Middle School teamed up to go and survey the amphibian population.  Armed with GPS, rubber boots, clipboards, and cameras, teams set out to see what sorts of frogs they could find.  It turned out to be a very rainy day (hooray for rain coats), but the teams were able to find what they were looking for!

Each team laid out transects, which are lines that help us to identify the specific location that the frogs were found.  It's kind of like laying an imaginary grid over the site so we could pinpoint the finds on a map.  When frogs were found, pictures were taken of both the frog and the habitat it was in, then the transect data was logged so that it could be read later!

There are a few things that the team members had to look out for, though.  Because amphibians are so sensitive, we wanted to handle them as little as possible - only long enough to snap a photo!  Also, we had to watch out for salamanders.  The one with the bright colored bellies can actually give off chemicals that are toxic to humans!  The area is also home to larger bullfrogs, which could be mistaken for tree frogs by the untrained eye...


How DO you tell the difference between a tree frog and a bullfrog?

  • Tree frogs have branched fingers on their front and hind legs because they climb in trees.  Other types of frogs have webbed feet to help them swim better!
  • Tree frogs usually have stripes which extend from their eyes back to their forelegs.  Instead of stripes, the bullfrogs have round structures that they use to hear!
Watch out for salamanders!!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

April 27th, 2013 - Another Great Day Of Service!

Global Youth Service Day was a big success!  This marked the second of four restoration events on First Creek as part of our partnership with the Salishan Community Association.  First Creek Middle School teamed up with the University of Washington-Tacoma and the Green Tacoma Partnership to host another volunteer event to help clean up our community.  The Green Tacoma Partnership, made up of the City of Tacoma, Metro Parks Tacoma, Forterra, and city residents, is currently working on restoring some 1,881 acres of Tacoma’s green space.  With their participation and the support of the Pierce Conservation District, the City of Tacoma – Splash Grant and Environmental Service Sponsorship, and State Farm Insurance, this event was able to bring in 88 volunteers who performed over 320 hours of cleanup and restoration!  Volunteers helped to pull invasive plant species, clean up trash, and spread mulch to protect the recently installed native plants.  In all, 25 cubic yards of garbage and 25 cubic yards of invasive plant material were removed from the site.    Way to go, everyone!