University of Massachusetts Amherst

Massachusetts North American Amphibian Program


Massachusetts Monitoring Protocols: Sampling procedures

  1. For each run, (one night in each of the four sampling periods), begin monitoring the route at least 30 minutes after sunset. Feel free to begin sampling later in the night if this will help avoid noise interference (e.g. rush hour traffic). However, the run must be completed by 1 a.m.
  2. Record weather and other data requested at the beginning of the sampling run on the field data sheet. [starting time, wind, sky code (see front of the data sheet), and date of the last significant rainfall]. Wind should be reported according to the Beaufort scale (see front of the data sheet). Be sure to indicate whether the temperatures recorded are in Celsius or Fahrenheit.
  3. Beginning at the first sampling stop, turn off your engine, get out and walk at least 15 feet from your vehicle and carefully listen for five (5) minutes. Indicate whether background noise impaired your ability to hear frogs using the noise index on the front of the data sheet. If there is a major noise disturbance lasting for more than a minute, discontinue sampling until the noise interference has passed and then resume the five (5) minute listening period. If such a “time out” is taken, note it in the checkbox on the data sheet. The “time out” should be used only for major episodic noise disturbances (e.g. train passing nearby), not for background noise.
  4. At each stop, record the presence of any calling amphibians using the following abundance codes. Record the appropriate code for each stop on the data sheet.
    • Code 1: if all calling frogs can be distinctly heard and easily counted.
    • Code 2: if there is some overlap of calls between individuals but not so much as to make an accurate count impossible
    • Code 3: if there is a loud and full chorus; the calls are constant, continuous, and overlapping for a given species.
  5. At each stop record the presence of any night-calling birds by writing in the name of the bird species and indicating the number of calling individuals in the appropriate box(es).
  6. At each stop record the start time for the listening period, air temperature, sky code and noise/disturbance level (see page one of the data sheet), and provide a check-mark in the appropriate column for the presence of snow on the ground.
  7. At each stop record on the data sheet whether or not the moon or moonlight was visible during the monitoring period.
  8. Continue the sampling for all stops until you have finished the entire route.
  9. At the end of the route, record the ending time, air temperature, wind, precipitation, and sky code. On page one of the data sheet record any pertinent notes about the route or the sampling run. Information that might be useful to include in the notes include: a) any amphibian species seen but not heard, b) any change in habitat or land use since the previous year, c) general weather or climate conditions for the year to date, d) level of mosquito control in the area of your route, e) any aquatic weed control in the area, and f) any new habitat along the route (beaver ponds, detention basins, etc.).

Click here for the MA Calling Amphibian Datasheet Word doc icon

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USGS NAAMP Massachusetts North American Amphibian Monitoring Program