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Mind the gap!
This spring Ontario Nature is launching a campaign to fill in key data gaps for the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas. The data submitted by people of all skill levels is used to map the whereabouts of some of the province’s most enigmatic creatures. You can help by enlisting as a citizen scientist for the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas, which has been led by Ontario Nature since 2009. While you’re enjoying the warm spring weather, keep an eye out for reptiles and amphibians. They have fascinating traits and adaptations, and you can help their plight simply by reporting your sightings. Read our latest blog for more information about the campaign.

New live updating maps!
In the spring of 2015, Ontario Nature, in partnership with the Toronto Entomological Association (TEA), launched a series of interactive, online maps. The maps provided a quick, easy way to view the thousands of records submitted through the atlas for over 50 different species of reptiles and amphibians. While these maps were user-friendly, the process involved in verifying each of the records submitted was time consuming and only allowed the maps to be updated once per year. We are happy to announce that the interactive maps have been redesigned so that all records submitted to the atlas can be confirmed on an ongoing basis, allowing the maps to be updated within days! This change will allow sightings submitted through the atlas, to influence conservation work in a direct and immediate way. Click here to view the new interactive maps.

Photography tips
Including photos with each reptile and amphibian sighting you submit to the atlas is very valuable. This is especially true for species that are cryptic or at-risk. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when taking your photos.
1) Lighting: on a sunny day be sure to position your shadow behind you with plenty of light on the subject.
2) Obstacles: clear anything obstructing the shot (e.g. plants, rocks) or reposition the camera to avoid them.
3) Study: take a second to note any unique features on the species and capture them in your photos. When possible get a shot of different sections of the body (e.g. head, top and back).
4) Focus: many reptiles and amphibians have details that require a sharp image to identify, make sure you know how to gain a crisp focus under different conditions.
5) Scale: take a photo of the subject with a known sized object beside it (e.g. loonie or credit card). 
6) Multiples: take plenty of photos, about three or four per angle and later choose the best of each. 
Click here to read more survey guidelines and tips.
Thank you Bradley McGinn!
Ontario Nature and the Atlas Team would like to extend our thanks to Bradley McGinn, the mastermind web programmer behind that atlas’ new live updating maps. Recently introduced to the world of nature and biology, Brad has adapted his 10 years of web programming knowledge to conservation and citizen science. A graduate from Humber College, Brad currently works as an independent contractor creating educational web and mobile applications. Outside of work Brad has a passion skateboarding and is a recognized resident of Toronto’s Vanderhoof Skatepark.

Events – Surveying the North
Ontario Nature is actively seeking new opportunities to increase the number and geographic range of Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas submissions in Ontario’s north. To assist with this expansion, staff at the Boreal Office will be running a series of atlas based workshops this spring/summer in northwestern Ontario. These events will allow individuals of all ages and experience levels to become familiar with the atlas as they survey northern forests for reptiles and amphibians. Please check the Ontario Nature events page in the coming weeks as we post event dates and locations, or contact if you are interested in being involved in these surveys.



Ontario Nature grants permission for use of the information above in member group newsletters. Please credit Ontario Nature.

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                                                                         Photo credits: Scott Gillingwater, Dax, Joe Crowley, Scott Gillingwater, Joe Crowley