Amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds provide important information about the progress of Metro's restoration efforts.
Metro’s volunteer wildlife monitoring program provides valuable information about Metro’s natural areas while offering a unique and in-depth service opportunity for community members. By focusing on indicator species, such as amphibians and birds, volunteers provide data to help Metro’s science and stewardship team gauge the progress of its restoration efforts and track the effects of public use on wildlife.
Metro initiated the volunteer-supported wildlife monitoring program in 2000 and expanded it through partnerships with Northwest Service Academy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 2009, 90 volunteers helped monitor wildlife populations at 15 different Metro natural areas, contributing more than 950 hours.
Metro selected breeding bird and pond-breeding amphibian populations as its focal wildlife indicators but tracks other groups such as native squirrel and waterbird populations. These groups are relatively easy and inexpensive to track using standardized methods, allow safe participation of volunteers yielding reliable population data, and facilitate an evaluation of sensitive wildlife indicators representing both resident (amphibians) and migratory (birds) species among a broad array of habitat types.
Volunteers are trained to collect data using avian point-count sampling, winter waterfowl surveys, amphibian egg mass surveys and other field methodologies. While the amphibian egg mass surveys have supported dramatic findings after only a few years, the true value of much of the data will be realized after many years of monitoring.
Data collected by volunteers helps guide site restoration and development, and has also proven very useful for securing restoration grant funding. For example, data supporting large expansions of Northern red-legged frog populations responding to Metro’s restoration of 150 acres of floodplain wetlands at its Multnomah Channel Natural Area have helped Metro raise nearly $400,000 to support additional wetlands restoration at the site.
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