Coming Soon to a Field Near You



    
    Calgary Zoo Researchers Leap in on Earth Day To Help Save Northern
    Leopard Frogs
    

    CALGARY, April 20 /CNW/ - Earth Day seems the fitting time to begin a
quest to help save the Northern Leopard Frog - one of Alberta's threatened
amphibians. Dr. Des Smith and Breana McKnight, two researchers at the Calgary
Zoo's Centre for Conservation Research, will head up the field team departing
on Wednesday, April 22 for their first six-week stint of fieldwork. The field
team will visit 70 sites across Southern Alberta in an area covering 90,000
km(2) ranging from areas south of Calgary to areas east of Medicine Hat - and
each site will be visited four consecutive times.
    At each site the research team will conduct a survey for Northern Leopard
Frogs (NLF). While at each site researchers will also collect data on
vegetation height and density, weather conditions, and the time of day so they
can later determine how these factors positively or negatively affected their
survey results. Frogs will not be handled or removed from the sites - only
observed.
    "Northern Leopard frogs are very good at hiding," said Breana McKnight,
Field Team Leader and Endangered Species Researcher at the Zoo. "Their small
size and clever camouflage make it extremely difficult for human eyes to spot
them in the dense grasses and murky waters of their wetland habitats. That is
why it is essential to develop new monitoring techniques for Northern Leopard
frogs that take environmental conditions into account."
    Many sites are located on Crown lands or in park areas; however, some
potential NLF sites are on private property. The research team wants to assure
property owners that they will be contacted by the Centre for Conservation
Research prior to the team accessing areas on private land.
    This is only a first step in a multi-year research project aimed at
protecting this important Canadian species. The research team will venture out
again in mid-July for another six weeks to complete their field work for the
year.
    By using the information gathered through their repeated site surveys
this spring and again later this summer, Dr. Des Smith and Breana McKnight
will work to develop new monitoring techniques for Northern Leopard frogs over
the next two years. In the end, their resulting survey model will be shared
with NLF Recovery Team partners and will provide valuable information about
how to accurately assess Northern Leopard frog populations.
    "Northern Leopard frogs are threatened in Alberta, but endangered in
British Columbia," explained Dr. Des Smith, Primary Investigator and Research
Scientist with the Zoo's Centre for Conservation Research. "It is imperative
that we conduct this field research and learn how best to survey the Northern
Leopard frogs so that we are better equipped to protect Alberta's populations
and prevent any further decline."
    The Northern Leopard Frog Recovery Project is a collaborative effort
involving the Alberta Conservation Association and Alberta Fish and Wildlife
(Alberta Sustainable Resources Department).
    People wishing to assist the Calgary Zoo team by reporting Northern
Leopard frog sightings can email research@calgaryzoo.ab.ca. Further
information about the Calgary Zoo's Northern Leopard Frog research can be
found at: www.calgaryzoo.org/frogresearch.

    
    Media Instructions:

    What:     Interviews available upon request.
    When:     Tuesday, April 21, 2009
    Where:    Calgary Zoo, Centre for Conservation Research
    Who:      Dr. Des Smith and/or Breana McKnight
    





For further information:

For further information: Laurie Herron, Manager, Communications, Phone:
(403) 232-9388, Cell: (403) 899-7080, laurieh@calgaryzoo.ab.ca; See:
www.calgaryzoo.com

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