|Volume 1: Number 1||
SEASON IS ENDING GET YOUR RECORDS IN NOW!
As the first of five herp seasons comes to a close we are encouraging all of you to SUBMIT YOUR DATA NOW!
Once all of the records are in then we can begin to assess this year's coverage and plan next year's season. If you have yet to register as an atlasser it is not too late, simply mail in a card with your information and we will enter it in the computer for you, or register yourself online at: http://landscape.acadiau.ca/herpatlas/.
Some herps are still active this time of year as they move into overwintering habitats. Data from the whole length of the herp season is important for us so please continue to record any fall herp activity and send it in.
BE READY FOR NEXT YEAR
UP AND COMING
The NS Herp Atlas is off to a successful start thanks to the tremendous volunteer support and interest. As of October 15, 1999 we have 47 people officially registered as atlassers and an additional 64 people who have expressed interest and are on our mailing list.
This year we have established our Atlassers guide, please look for the new edition, printed on blue paper (this will be sent out to you, and is on the web site), a water-proof colour species identification guide, and a Nova Scotia Herp Atlas web site. We are excited about our web site: http://landscape.acadiau.ca/herpatlas/ and everyone involved in the project should know that our online database is one of the most advanced on the web.
You are able to search for both historic and current atlas records by mapbook square, by year, by month, species, life stage, and atlasser number.
Atlassers have submitted 207 records over this year and during
pilot season. Of these records 142 are sightings of amphibians,
123 frogs and toads and 19 salamanders and newts. There were 65 reptile
sightings submitted, including 28 turtles and 37 snakes.
1. Establish a database of herp information for use in conservation planning and land use management
2. Publish a hard copy atlas with five years of data on the distribution of species
3. Increase public awareness and appreciation of herps
4. Establish the infrastructure to continue long-term monitoring of herps in Nova Scotia.
The data collected by the NS Herp Atlas project will be used by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre (AC CDC) in developing conservation strategies and providing information to companies for environmental impact assessments.
In September this year this group satellite tagged a male Leatherback Turtle (Sherman) off the coast of Northern Cape Breton Island. This is the first time this has ever been achieved. Take a look at where Sherman is moving at http://www.cwf- fcf.org/pages/ sherman.htm
The NS Herp Atlas volunteers come from all over the province and from many different organizations. Naturalist organizations within the Federation of Nova Scotia Naturalists have spread the word of the project among their membership and other individuals who are avid naturalists have also joined. The NS Museum of Natural History has been involved and is promoting it to their visitors. Field staff from the Wildlife Division of the Department of Natural Resources are contributing to the project, and both Kejimkujik National Park and the Cape Breton Highlands National Park are involved as well. University biology professors have spread the word to their students and other faculty and staff. Many of the watershed monitoring organizations, including the four Nova Scotia ACAP sites (the Atlantic Coastal Action Programs) and the Nova Scotia Salmon Association's Adopt-a-Stream members have also joined the project.
We are continually expanding our volunteer base so please
if you know of other organizations that you feel could contribute to
AND REPTILE CONSERVATION
Over the last 8 years there has been growing concern over amphibian declines, and also reptile declines. There are numerous potential contributors to these declines, many of which are human-induced. Scientists from around the world have compiled information on human threats to amphibians and reptiles including; habitat destruction, alteration, fragmentation, barriers to movement, roadkills, pesticides, fertilizers, acid rain, and the pet trade.
Increasing awareness of these threats can lead to a better understanding of how we as individuals can impact populations of other organisms.
The map below shows the amount of coverage (the number of
per mapbook square) as of October 15th 1999. Each circle represents
submitted for that square and the number in the circle gives the number
of species so far recorded for that square. Thus far only 74 of 650
(11.4%) have any species recorded. The coverage goal of the atlas is to
have at least 75% of the expected species recorded for each square.
species includes all common species (i.e. not starred) and for the
of the squares this will be 13 of 17 expected species.
WE NEED MORE
STEERING COMMITTEE: OUR PARTNERS AND MEMBERS
For this project to be successful, not only do we need the immense volunteer support from all of you but we need multiple partners. So far there are seven donors of in-kind and financial support. The steering committee for the NS Herp Atlas project consists of ten individuals, at least one representative from each of the partners. This committee oversees the NS Herp Atlas project.
· Fred Scott - Acadia
Museum - Chair
NS HERP ATLAS STEERING COMMITTEE:
FIRST MEETING - JULY 1999
The committee held its inaugural meeting in July 1999 at Acadia University. The summary highlights the administrative and organizational issues that were covered at this meeting.
Project Coordinator: It was agreed that it is necessary to have a project coordinator nine months of the year from March 1st - December 1st and that the duration of the position will be evaluated on an annual basis.
Coverage Goals: The coverage goals were evaluated and it was agreed that a minimum of 3 non-adjacent squares per page was an appropriate goal. However, we modified the criteria for a square to be considered complete and decided that 75% of the expected species per square must be identified within a square (expected species includes all common species (i.e. not starred)).
Project Funding: There is a continual need to secure additional project funding to ensure a coordinator for the duration of this 1999 season and partners for the 5 year duration of the project.
Volunteer Training: We must contact any other volunteer organizations that could potentially get involved. We discussed the importance of volunteer training and that we will have training sessions in place next year.
Verification of Sightings: It is important to ensure that there is a process in place for the verification of sightings. It may be possible to develop a network of volunteer regional coordinators/contacts who could verify sightings for us and encourage participants in their area.
Data Requests: We discussed access to data, and the process through which requests for data will be handled. This is a topic that must be taken very seriously because we are dealing with precise location data for species that are rare or threatened.
Maritime-wide Atlas: We discussed the possibility of expanding the atlas to become a Maritime-wide Atlas including New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. We agreed in principle, however, decided more discussion would be necessary. In October this was discussed with representatives from NB and PEI and although it was decided that it would be a good idea, issues such as asynchronous starting times and limited resources made it not possible at this time. At this time, PEI and NB are considering the possibility of initiating their own projects and we have offered in-kind assistance to help them get started.
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