A New Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas - FAQ's
Below are some of the most common questions we get about the atlas and the submission of data. Do you have a question that you're not getting an answer to somewhere on this website? Let us know and we'll add it here.
What about overlap with other volunteer monitoring projects such as FrogWatch, TurtleTally and Marsh Monitoring Program (MMP)?
If you participate in one or more other citizen science programs, continue to submit your data to them as per their protocols. To avoid data duplication, we are working on establishing data-sharing relationships with these programs so that they will forward the necessary sighting information to the atlas for you. You would only need to tell us about sightings of species not included in other tallies. For example, if you are doing a yearly call count route for the MMP, you won't need to submit the frog and toad occurrence data from your stations. You should report any snake, turtle, lizard, or salamander observations directly to the atlas, as well as any frog and toad observations that were not recorded as part of your MMP station tallies.
Spotted Turtle; CREDIT: Joe Crowley
I see the same turtle in my pond every day. Do you want me to submit a sighting for every time/day that I see it?
No. If you are reasonably certain that you are seeing the same animal, you only need to report it once per year. If there are particular locations that you plan to revisit regularly, consider waiting two to four weeks between visits.
Do the reptiles and amphibians that I see have to be alive?
No. Road-killed animals actually represent important information since we learn about species occurrence and where animals are being killed on roads. We will be forwarding road-kill data to the Ontario Road Ecology Group so that it can contribute to their research. It is important that you indicate whether or not you are confident with the identification, but an unidentified snake or turtle is still valuable road mortality data.
What if I find an old, empty turtle shell or a snake skin? Do I report that?
Old body parts should be reported as an occurrence so long as you feel that you can still identify the species with 100% confidence. However, bear in mind that the Endangered Species Act prohibits the keeping of any dead endangered or threatened species, including body parts such as a turtle shell.
I counted eight painted turtles basking on a log. Would that be reported as eight sightings?
No. You should report multiple instances of the same species seen at the same time and at the same location only once. Your report would consist of one occurrence of that species at that location on that date, including the number of individuals observed. The general rule is one data record per species per location per date. With the exception of rare species, any individuals observed within 100 metres of each other, or within the same definable area such as a pond, can be considered to be in the same location. In the case of rare species, we ask that you fill out a separate observation report with unique location information for each individual or tightly clustered group, unless those individuals were within a few metres of each other.
I stopped by my neighbourhood pond yesterday and heard three green frogs and one bullfrog, and I saw a snapping turtle. Can I submit this as one observation?
No. You should report instances of multiple species seen at the same time and at the same location once per species. In the example above, you would submit 3 reports using the online form or fill in 3 rows in the excel spreadsheet (i.e., one for each species). The general rule is one data record per species per location per date.
I have data but it's from before 2009. Can that be included?
Yes. If your data hasn't already been submitted to the NHIC or Ontario Herpetofaunal Summary Atlas, we strongly encourage you to report it.
Are there any resources available for volunteers?
Yes. This Ontario Reptile and Amphibian website includes detailed species accounts that provide information about the ecology and biology of each species, identification characteristics, and new atlas range maps.
Each summer we deliver presentations and training workshops for groups that are interested in participating in the atlas. Presentations provide an overview of the local reptiles and amphibians, techniques and tips to surveying for them and general information on the atlas project. Training workshops are intended for groups of at least 10 people and provide hands-on training while surveying an area of local interest. Please contact John Urquhart at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about these opportunities.
Laminated reptile and amphibian ID cards are available from Ontario Nature by contacting John Urquhart at email@example.com.