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Pickerel frog is one species being surveyed on the Stockbridge-Munsee Community. Photo courtesy of Distant Hill Gardens/Creative Commons.

Pickerel frog is one species being surveyed on the Stockbridge-Munsee Community. Photo courtesy of Distant Hill Gardens/Creative Commons.

Tribal Wildlife Grant Supports
Stockbridge-Munsee Community in Herptile Research

Have you ever thought about what kind of turtle is in your backyard or what different kinds of salamanders might live in the nearest lake?

Well, the Stockbridge-Munsee Community in Wisconsin, has been awarded a tribal wildlife grant in 2014 to do a three year research program to survey diversity, address herptile biological challenges and their habitats, as well to restore degraded habitats instrumental to the long term viability of herptile species. The all-inclusive surveys will contribute in the development of a comprehensive herptile management plan which will include long term monitoring on the Stockbridge-Munsee reservation.

Why is herptile monitoring so important for Stockbridge-Munsee? In this case, the Stockbridge-Munsee Community is in Wisconsin and the state currently lists several herptile species as either species of greatest conservation need, special concern, threatened or endangered. Stockbridge-Munsee biologists have documented two species of turtles on the reservation: Blanding’s turtle (special concern) and the wood turtle (threatened); as well as 5 species of amphibians and reptiles listed as species of¬†concern: the four-toed salamander, pickerel frog, Northern leopard frog, mudpuppy and the Eastern hog-nosed snake. With 7 species found on the reservation, it’s easy to conclude why monitoring could be important, maybe more species of concern can be found through herptile surveys providing important information to support species conservation efforts.

The tribe is currently one year into their surveys and will now start analyzing their data to identify which species found on the reservation to include in their management plan. To assist in future surveys, Stockbridge-Munsee will install song meters to record frog and toad songs to determine species diversity while continuing to survey for other herptiles species such as salamanders and snakes.

“The key of the project is to get a baseline of herptile diversity and populations on the reservation,” says Randall Wollenhaup, Stockbridge-Munsee fish and wildlife biologist. “We will use the data to evaluate two factors, one to see if there is an impact from forest harvesting and two to see how climate change can affect herptile populations.”

As Stockbridge-Munsee progresses through winter into spring, Wollenhaup and his group of biologists will be reviewing recently acquired agriculture land to transform into new wetlands for herptile habitat. According to Wollenhaup, the newly acquired lands had historically been wetlands until private ownership drained and converted the land into agriculture fields. The Stockbridge-Munsee Community plans on starting the conversion next summer, adding to the wildlife habitat already established on the reservation. Though Stockbridge-Munsee’s project may only be in the first year, it has promising outcomes for wildlife and herptile conservation on the reservation.

The Service is excited to honor our trust responsibilities in part through awarding a Tribal Wildlife Grant to the Stockbridge-Munsee Community in support of their research. Annually, the Service awards multiple Tribal Wildlife Grants nationally to federally recognized tribes for the development and implementation of programs that benefit fish and wildlife resources and their habitat.

By Alejandro Morales
Regional Office - External Affairs

Blandings turtle is another species that is being surveyed on the Stockbridge-Munsee Community. Photo courtesy of Beaver Brook Association/Creative Commons.

Blanding's turtle is another species that is being surveyed on the Stockbridge-Munsee Community. Photo courtesy of Beaver Brook Association/Creative Commons.

 

Last updated: January 6, 2016