Spring peeper

Spring peeper Peter Ferguson

Atlas FAQs

What about overlap with other volunteer monitoring projects?

We share data with the groups listed below (and many others). So if you already help with one of these projects, chances are we will see your data. If your group is not listed on here, please let us know.

  • Backyard Frogs
  • Dundas Turtle Watch
  • Herp Mapper
  • HSC Huron Stewardship Council
  • Long Point Basin Land Trust
  • Marsh Monitoring Project (MMP)
  • The Nature Conservancy of Canada
  • West Elgin Natural Heritage Inventory
  • Toronto Region Conservation Authority
  • Adopt-A-Pond Turtle Tally

Spotted Turtle

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 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?

Old body parts should be reported as an occurrence so long as you feel that you can still identify the species with 100 percent 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. Should that be reported as eight sightings?

No. One species in one general location should be submitted as one record. The exception to this rule is with species at risk, whose exact coordinates is very important and should be counted as individual records.

At my neighbourhood pond, I 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 three reports using the online form or fill in three 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 from before 2009. Should I still submit it?

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 Atlas website includes detailed species accounts that provide information about the ecology and biology of each species, identification characteristics, and new atlas range maps.

Through our network of volunteer atlas area coordinators, we can provide presentations and training workshops for groups that are interested in participating in the atlas. Presentations give an overview of local species, tips and techniques to do surveys, and general information about the atlas. Workshops are intended for groups of at least 10 people and provide hands-on training while surveying a local area. Please email atlas@ontarionature.org to find out more about these opportunities.

Laminated reptile and amphibian identification cards are available from Ontario Nature by contacting atlas@ontarionature.org.

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