Night Amphibian Survey
Night amphibian surveys are regularly conducted on the Blanca Wetlands and on the South San Luis Lakes. We survey the Blanca Wetlands to help assess frog and toad population trends. The survey also helps determine the breeding areas of the wetlands. Six amphibian species have been found in the area. Five aurally call for mates, Bufo cognatus (Great Plains Toad), Pseudacris triseriata (Western Chorus Frog), Rana pipiens (Northern Leopard Frog), Spea bombifrons (Plains Spadefoot), and Rana catesbeiana (American Bullfrog). The Ambystoma tigrinum (Tiger Salamander) does not aurally call to attract mates. The South San Luis Lakes tract of land is owned by the Nature Conservancy and is managed by the Zapata Ranch. The Zapata Ranch leases out the ground to a private rancher for grazing. This land lies directly north of Blanca Wetlands and extends north to Lane 6 (Sand Dunes Hwy) and east to the Closed Basin Canal. The night surveys were conducted here to determine the potential for amphibians in the area. Long term plans for the area include wetlands restoration of the site by applying water from the canal to historic playa basins.
We start the survey about half an hour after sunset and it is supposed to take about 4 to 5 hours to complete each one, but it usually takes a little longer. The reason it takes longer is because driving out at the wetlands during the day is tough, but driving the wetlands at night is ridiculously difficult. We get turned around very easily and this tends to make the surveys last longer than the 4 to 5 hours, but it is still a ton of fun. I cannot wait until all of our fun summer work starts!