Throwback to the pre-smartphone days 

The way we collect and report our observations has changed a lot in recent years. With our new interactive maps we decided to take a look at how we share knowledge. When Ontario Nature started leading the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas (ORAA) in 2009 we thought the smartphone app may be a possibility one day. Today it is a reality, but would those coordinating the Ontario Herpetofaunal Summary in 1984 have thought that this was possible? It would have seemed like something out of a sci-fi novel for those involved in documenting species ranges in the '60s. Read more about the history of “herping” in Ontario here.  

This summer's challenge - updating historic squares 

Thanks to people like you, we have made significant progress in acquiring data on the distribution and spatial trends for many species of reptiles and amphibians, there’s still more work to be done. Below is a list of 15 species and the number of atlas squares that have not received data since 1996 (that’s over 20 years!). You can help fill in these gaps! To learn more about the underreported areas nearest to you, visit out our new dynamic maps.

Benefitting from the Ontario Butterfly Atlas!

The new dynamic maps launched this spring would not have been possible without the help of Alan Macnaughton, Bev Edwards and Ross Layberry. This dedicated team of volunteers launched their own dynamic maps in 2011, with a focus on Ontario butterflies. Their expertise was a great asset , improving the atlas' mapping and display. The dynamic maps can be viewed here and the maps for the Ontario Butterfly Atlas can be viewed here. Alan became the main contact between the Toronto Entomologists' Association and Ontario Nature. Alan joined the Toronto Entomologists' Association in 1970 and in 2006 became Vice President. He received the Norman Criddle Award from the Entomological Society of Canada in 2013 and was the recipient of the Ontario Nature Achievement Award in 2016 for his involvement in moving citizen science forward in Ontario. 

Top contributors

Summer has only just begun and there are still lots of opportunities to document reptiles and amphibians across the province. The total number of verified submissions to the ORAA from January-July 2016 using the online form and app is 1,084. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to submit their records. To receive credit for your sightings, please make sure to include your contact information when submitting observations through the online form. We look forward to announcing the top contributors for 2016! Here’s a list of the top 10 contributors for 2016.

2016 Canadian Herpetological Society Conference in Toronto

The 3rd Annual Canadian Herpetological Society (CHS) conference will take place from September 16-18, 2016 at the Toronto Zoo. The CHS is a registered charity that advances reptile and amphibian research and conservation in Canada. This event is a great forum for researchers, students and conservation practitioners. To learn more visit:

Looking for a training opportunity?

The Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Field Courses are done for 2016. This year there were two field courses one on Beausoleil Island, Georgian Bay Islands National Park and the second at the Queen’s University Biological Research Station. If you are interested in training opportunities related to reptile and amphibian biology, ecology, and survey methods consider enrolling in this course in 2017. To learn more about the course visit:

Looking for ways to participate in citizen science?

Looking for ways to become more involved in herp-related projects? The answer may be on the Directory of Ontario Citizen Science or DOCS for short. This is a new online, searchable tool for connecting seasoned or budding citizen scientists with volunteer opportunities across the province. Whether you are an organization leading a citizen science project or an individual looking to get involved, DOCS allows you to post and search for projects. Add or search for projects here:

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Images from top to bottom: Butler's gartersnake/Scott Gillingwater, Gabe Camozzi, Ruth Layberry (Pictured left to right, Alan Macnaughton, Bev Edwards and Ross Layberry), Lucy Veilleux, Josh Feltham, Freepik, Joe Crowley