South Shore Watershed Association
Enhancement of Fish Habitat and Connectivity: Westmoreland River
The South Shore Watershed Association conducted an amphibian study in five watersheds: 7-Mile Bay, Westmoreland, Augustine Cove, Tryon, and DeSable in the Spring/Summer of 2020. This study attempted to determine the abundance of the following:
Green Frog (Rana Clamitans)
Spring Peeper (Pseudacris Crucifer)
Wood Frog (Rana Sylvatica)
Leopard Frog (Rana Pipiens)
American Toad (Bufo Americanus)
Blue-spotted Salamander (Ambystoma Laterale)
Spotted Salamander (Plethodon Cinereus)
Garter Snake (Thamnophis Sirtalis)
Smooth Green Snake (Opheodrys Vernalis)
Red-bellied Snake (Storeria Occipitomaculatus)
COVID-related problems did arise, the full team of students did not arrive until June, and delays in getting the amphibian boards into the field was the likely cause of the lack of non-anuran amphibian presence.
Anuran presence was noted in all five locations in the South Shore Watershed. Continued monitoring will be needed to properly assess amphibian populations. This data is encouraging, as anurans are a bioindicator of the health of a riparian zone due to their susceptibility to chemicals during their freshwater cycles. A comprehensive plan is needed to identify areas throughout the five watersheds that could benefit from increased buffer zone vegetation. This will include discussions and hopefully partnerships with farmers whose land could be improved from either increased buffer zones, or enhancement of existing buffer zone with local trees and shrubs. This will be the focus for monitoring with the YSI showed unsafe (above 10 ppm) levels of nitrates in most locations. Data from August 20, 2020 had 17 out of the 18 water monitoring locations with nitrate levels above 10 ppm, some were double that. Noonan's Pond was the only consistently low (below 5 ppm) nitrate level location on the south shore. A new amphibian study will be conducted in 2021, with modifications to the experimental design to include other methods of detecting presence, as well as changing the dates to coincide more directly to breeding season.