Studying amphibians in our Peace Region’s Williston Reservoir

Project Year: 2018-2019

Long-toed Salamander Photo Credit: Sara Sparks

Project Lead

DWB Consulting Services Ltd.

Watershed/Sub-region

Peace Region

Basin-Wide

Project Type

Species-Based Actions

FWCP Contribution

$86,986

Action Plan Alignment

Species of Interest Action Plan

Project ID

PEA-F19-W-2608

Update: More than 700 amphibians photographed and catalogued

We’re funding the most comprehensive amphibian research project in Northern B.C. The project is both an investigation and a message about the important connections between the forest floor and amphibian wetland breeding habitats. One significant early finding is the importance of different types, mixtures, and volumes of coarse woody debris in upland areas around wetlands, where many amphibians spend most of their life. The woody debris acts like a sponge and retains moisture — of growing importance when considering climate change — and provides mini oases of food and shelter for amphibians.

DWB Consulting Services Ltd. is leading the four-year amphibian wetland connectivity project. It has gathered data on the movements and habitat use of Western Toads, Long-toed Salamanders, Spotted, Wood, and Boreal Chorus Frogs. Amphibians are facing declines more rapidly than any other vertebrate and the threat is being amplified by climate change and hydrological cycles in northern environments.

Over the course of the project, 385 plots and 84 wetlands were surveyed alongside Williston Reservoir, with nearly 700 amphibians — including 366 Western Toads, 130 Wood Frogs, and 129 Long-toed Salamanders — photographed, measured, weighed, and catalogued. In addition, presentations, student field excursions, and stakeholder meetings were undertaken to promote conservation.

The goal is to use the data gathered to develop conservation recommendations and opportunities for habitat enhancement. The plan is to work closely with regional forest managers and other partners to promote new silvicultural practices with amphibians in mind. This may include prescriptions for specific classes and volumes of coarse woody debris, in addition to new considerations for landscapes and buffer design to maintain connectivity for amphibians in forests around wetlands.

Amphibian wetland connectivity along Williston Reservoir

This four-year project is designed to investigate the ecology of amphibians in the Peace Region along Williston Reservoir. The research is being used to identify potential targets and methods for conservation-based interventions. A replicated occupancy study design is used to track individuals across habitats over time. The goal is to obtain estimates of abundance, occupancy, and biomass in two stage visits: spring and summer. Amphibians are surveyed in their habitats to understand how they are distributed, what environmental features are most important in their wetland and terrestrial habitats, and how they can be best managed in response to climate change, habitat loss, and other threats. Connectivity is a key theme in this project’s communications, research, and management objectives. A public engagement program is tied to the research.