Site powered by WP Engine MAKE THIS YOUR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HOME...PAGE!  Saturday, November 17th, 2018

Why reptiles and amphibians matter – look past the ‘eeew’ factor

Not everyone likes snakes, salamanders, lizards, toads and frogs. But look past the “Eeew’ factor Reptiles and amphibians are extremely good at controlling biting insects – like mosquitoes and black flies – and insects which feed on crops. Reptiles and amphibians are food for fish, birds and mammals; osprey can be seen carrying snakes to feed their chicks.
Scientists use amphibians to monitor the health of our environment. These species live both on land and in water, and they reflect changes in both. Because amphibians breathe through their skin, they’re more affected by pollution than other species – and that gives us an early warning of serious pollution problems. It’s warning we can’t ignore.
Species in Trouble
Today, reptile and amphibian populations are crashing at an alarming rate. The pygmy short-horned lizard has gone from British Columbia; Ontario’s timber rattlesnake has disappeared. The blue racer, now found only on Pelee Island, is threatened by development. Seventeen species of Canada’s salamanders, toads and frogs are declining.
Many reptiles are long-lived. Some, like the snapping turtle, may not produce young for 15 or 20 years. During those early years, they are vulnerable to a host of threats. Even the loss of a few female young snapping turtles – or other turtle species – can have a drastic effect on the overall population.
A Host of Threats
Threats to reptiles and amphibians include:
habitat destruction. Ontario has lost 90% of its wetlands – crucial for many amphibians. The pygmy short-horned lizard likely died out when forests were lost to agriculture. Habitat fragmentation, that is, isolating small natural habitats, often results in pockets of habitats too small to sustain wildlife.
road kill.
In one year, 10,000 leopard frogs were killed at Long Point on Lake Erie on a single road. Snakes often warm themselves on highways, with fatal results. Female snapping turtles die when they cross roads to lay eggs. As the numbers of roads increase, even more reptiles and amphibians will be killed.
pollution. Chemicals are a significant threat to reptiles and amphibians, even years after their use. DDT, banned in 1972, is still found in amphibians. Where pesticide use is heavy, badly deformed frogs are often found. In the Great Lakes region, up to 40% of snapping turtle eggs don’t hatch or produce deformed young.
Climate change and UV radiation
Reptiles and amphibians depend on weather. Even small changes – such as a drought that dries up a wetland – can affect them. Frogs lay their eggs on the water’s; increased UV radiation caused by the greenhouse effect is reducing hatching success.
predators. Raccoons, which raid the nests of turtles and snakes, thrive near humans. It’s estimated that there are now 20 times more raccoons than ever before. Skunks, another nest predator, have also increased. In many areas, raccoons destroy virtually all the turtle nests.
Ostrander Turtles at Risk
Stantec’s study of Ostrander Point found Blanding’s turtle – a threatened species – in the area where industrial wind turbines are proposed. Gilead needs a special permit to “kill, harm and harass” Blanding’s turtles at the site. The company must also say how it plans to avoid harming the turtles. So far, it has said only that it will buy more land for them; it has not explained how it will encourage the threatened Ostrander Point turtles to move to their new habitat.
Ostrander Point is also home to many other species of reptiles and amphibians: the snapping turtle (a species of special concern), western chorus frog, garter snake and the attractive brown snake. Adjacent areas are home to the map turtle (a species of special concern) and musk turtle.

* * *

The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, founded in 1997, is an affiliate of Ontario Nature. It provides an educational forum dedicated to the study, promotion, appreciation and conservation of the flora and fauna within Prince Edward County. The public is welcome at the meetings held on the last Tuesday of the month from September to May, except December, at Bloomfield Town Hall. Guest speakers introduce a variety of nature related topics. All members are encouraged to participate at meetings by sharing their experiences and observations. Regularly scheduled field trips in the vicinity offer members the opportunity to experience various habitats. Membership in PECFN is open to all. Contact: Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, P.O. Box 477, Bloomfield, Ontario K0K 1G0 Or Cheryl Anderson 613-471-1096

NEXT MEETING: Tues. Jan. 31 7pm Bloomfield Town Hall: Members’ Night presentations. Everybody welcome.

Filed Under: Uncategorized

About the Author: The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, founded in 1997, is an affiliate of Ontario Nature. It provides an educational forum dedicated to the study, promotion, appreciation and conservation of the flora and fauna within Prince Edward County. The public is welcome at the meetings held on the last Tuesday of the month from September to May, except December, at Bloomfield Town Hall. Guest speakers introduce a variety of nature related topics. All members are encouraged to participate at meetings by sharing their experiences and observations. Regularly scheduled field trips in the vicinity offer members the opportunity to experience various habitats. Membership in PECFN is open to all. Contact: Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, P.O. Box 477, Bloomfield, Ontario K0K 1G0 Or Cheryl Anderson 613-471-1096

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.

OPP reports
lottery winners
FIRE
SCHOOL
Neil Ellis Todd Smith
Bay of Quinte Mutual Bay of Quinte RAP
County Traders Eurotech

HOME     LOCAL     MARKETPLACE     COMMUNITY     CONTACT US
© Copyright Prince Edward County News countylive.ca 2018 • All rights reserved.