Creating Habitat to Study and Protect Endangered Species
How can we create habitat that supports the Kirtland’s snake, Crawfish frog, and other endangered species at our preserves? At the Sam Shine Foundation Preserve and other properties in our priority Beanblossom Creek Bicentennial Conservation Area, we are hard at work to restore wetland and other important wildlife habitats. We have partnered with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to conduct a variety of herpetological surveys along Beanblossom Creek to monitor the health of the snakes, frogs, turtles, and salamanders that call these sensitive areas home.
Photo above: Kirtland’s snake, an endangered species targeted for protection at Sycamore’s preserves. — Indiana Department of Natural Resources
One method to study secretive species such as snakes and salamanders is to use “coverboards” made of wood, metal, or foam. Many reptiles and amphibians tend to hide under logs or rocks seeking cover. These boards allow researchers a way to provide “cover” that can easily be lifted at set intervals to examine and count species underneath.
Thanks to a generous donation of carpet foam from Bounds Flooring Inc., Sycamore and DNR will be using foam coverboards this spring and summer to survey the endangered Kirtland’s snake, which spends a majority of its life hidden from sight and likely underground in crayfish burrows. The foam coverboards have proven more effective for this species in previous studies likely due to the higher humidity levels than wooden or metal coverboards.
This important research partnership will help monitor populations of snakes, frogs, turtles, and salamanders at Sycamore’s nature preserves, whose presence are an indicator of environmental health. We’ll learn a lot more this spring and summer as we look closer at the biodiversity of these sensitive habitats and assess new ways to help them thrive. Stay tuned for updates!
Crawfish frog, an endangered species targeted for protection at Sycamore’s preserves. — Indiana Department of Natural Resources