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Herpetology Monitoring Program

Reptiles and amphibians (herps) are good indicators of ecosystem health due to their close association with aquatic habitats and their sensitivity to different stresses. Evidence exists linking global herp declines to habitat destruction, deforestation, highway construction, urban development and possibly degraded water quality. What role these factors and other potential stressors (contaminants, introduced species, climate change, ultraviolet radiation, disease, and atmospheric deposition) play in the loss of these animals has not been fully determined. To help answer these questions we monitor the herp populations at the Otter Point Creek. This baseline data will provide a better picture of species diversity, distribution, habitat preferences, relative abundance, and overall health of herps in our area. In the past, volunteers have assisted with research through the following programs: the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program Calling Surveys, the Great Herp Search, Visual Encounter Survey, and Coverboard Study. Additionally, high school and college interns have conducted projects designed to answer specific questions about our herp populations. Currently, were are surveying our herps as part of MARA (Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas) as well as conducting research on our eastern box turtle population. Please visit the Turtle Telemetry page for more information about our turtles! 

MARA (Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas)

MARA began in 2010 and ran until 2015. The goal of the project is to map the location of all of the roughly 95 species and subspecies of herps found in Maryland. To accomplish this goal, the entire state was divided into a large grid and volunteers were assigned to different blocks within the grid. The Anita C. Leight Estuary Center agreed to help by submitting any data that was collected in our Park (block name: Edgewood – CE).

Green snakeNorthern Brown SnakeIn 2010, we did not have an official herpetology program, but we still reported both a northern brown snake (Storeria dekayi dekayi) and a rough green snake (Opheodrys aestivus). Neither of these snakes was reported anywhere else in Harford County. We also found several eastern worm snakes (Carphophis amoenus amoenus), which were only reported in one other location in Harford County.

In 2011 we organized a group of eager volunteers to conduct a more thorough survey of the Park. These volunteers will search for herps, both at the Anita C. Leight Estuary Center and at the Bosely Conservancy. When herps are located, their GPS coordinates will be recorded so we can map their locations. This will let us see exactly what species we have, and where they are located.



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Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m.



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Anita C. Leight Estuary Center / 700 Otter Point Road, Abingdon MD 21009 / 410-612-1688