Printer Friendly

Prevent "toadal" loss!

Armed with good humor and lots of insect repellant, a group of Cornell University students, staff; faculty and assorted herpetologists spent last summer building a "toad tunnel" to allow amphibians safe passage across a preserve near campus.

Cornell Plantations, the college arboretum in Ithaca, New York, manages Ringwood Preserve, which features spring peepers, red-spotted newts, wood frogs, spotted and Jefferson salamanders, turtles and, of course, toads. The road through it, which separates the preserve from a breeding pond, carries about 600 vehicles a day, creating close encounters of the not-so-good kind between amphibians and cars.

Millions of amphibians throughout the northeast (already in precipitous decline for a variety of reasons) are killed each spring, as they migrate across roads on warm, rainy nights to their breeding ponds. "As conservation-minded herpetologists, we wanted to reduce this slaughter," says Jacqualine Grant, a Comell graduate student.

Grant envisioned a "drift fence" to help guide amphibians to an already existing culvert underneath the road, and helped raise $5,000 for it. The fence, created for this purpose by a polymer company, is made from recycled plastic, and curves over on top to prevent hopping creatures from straying.

In one long workday, the group successfully installed the "toad tunnel" in an area previously surveyed for mortality. "One evening I counted over 100 road-killed newts there," notes Grant. "Over the course of a breeding season, we will have saved hundreds of animals."

Such "critter crossings" are found nationwide. Each spring, migrating salamanders in Amherst, Massachusetts use similar tunnels to reach breeding pools. The town has even posted a "Watch Out for Salamanders" sign to slow down motorists. University of Massachusetts amphibian expert Scott Jackson, who helped design the tunnels, offers tips to would-be protectors that include: Design tunnels to accommodate site conditions; avoid single-species designs; know the biology of the target species; locate tunnels close to the species' movement corridors; monitor the project and share the results.

A state Department of Transportation design team followed these recommendations when planning a culvert across a stream in Pawtucket, Rhode Is land's historic Slater Mill Park. They added shelves inside the culvert, slightly above the water. Now green frogs, mice and other wildlife can continue their path alongside the stream. Since the shelves were added before construction, they added little to the cost.

It's in our own best interest to protect amphibians, adds Grant. They eat vast quantities of mosquitoes and flies. And what would springtime be without the cheerful calls of spring peepers? CONTACT: Cornell Plantations, (607)2552400,; Federal Highway Administration, (202)3660660,
COPYRIGHT 2004 Earth Action Network, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:subway for frogs to cross road
Author:Wolfson, Elissa
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Jan 1, 2004
Previous Article:Journey to Eden.
Next Article:Saving Washington's forgotten river.

Related Articles
Tales from the Froglog and others.
Life is cheap.
Amphibia Fading.
Olympic bid still a priority.
Urban herpetology II: amphibians and reptiles of the Indianapolis airport conservation lands.
Frog freedom.
Elevated pesticide threatens amphibians.
Hopping away.
Not slippery when wet.
The case of the croaking frogs: a deadly fungus is spreading among frogs. Could warming temperatures be to blame?

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters