Columbia County Reptiles and Amphibians is a project by Jon Hakim and Matt D’Agrosa to document reptile and amphibian species, or “herps”, across Columbia County. We are systematically surveying the county, reviewing literature and museum records, and crowd sourcing citizen naturalist data. Together we hope to create the best inventory possible of our region.
If you’re looking for information on the project, you’re in the right place.
“Why are you doing this?”
Our project goals are to:
- Map the county to show which herps are widespread and which are limited
- Find herps that haven’t previously been reported in the county
- Identify which habitats support the most rarely seen herps
- Get the public more engaged on outdoors issues
More information can be found on our iNaturalist post:
“We saw a toad in our yard. How can we participate?“
Anyone can share data with us via www.inaturalist.org. Just take a photo and upload it (with location) to the iNaturalist website. If you download their free app to your phone, you can use the app to take a photo and it does the rest of the work for you. More information can be found at the following link:
If you don’t want to use iNaturalist, we’re happy for you to send us the info over email instead. That goes for anyone, but especially researchers who have already completed surveys or published research with sites within Columbia County. Use the following form to get in touch with us.
If you’re not sure how to search for herps, or want to get your students involved, scroll down for more information. Feel free to ask any other questions you have.
“We’d love to help, but how do we find herps?”
Looking for reptiles and amphibians, also known as “herping”, is a skill. One trick is to search at the right time: our amphibians like it moist and mild, while our reptiles like it warm but not too hot or too dry. The next factor is to search the right place: usually near water bodies or other habitat edges, such as field edges or the margins of rocky areas. And finally, you need to search the right way. Some herps are active in the open and you must be vigilant to see them before they see you. Others hide under cover objects, which you must check under and then carefully replace.
Click the link for more information (with example pictures) on how to find reptiles and amphibians:
“We have a student who would like to participate. Can we get his school involved?”
We’re glad you asked! Jon is a former science teacher and loves presenting in the classroom. Matt and Jon have already begun collaborations with two local schools, though the pandemic has made it difficult for efforts to kick off. We’re both vaccinated and boosted, and happy to follow all rules for classroom interaction.
The following link describes our project to educators and gives the options for student collaboration in detail:
What happens to my data?
Every time someone enters a reptile or amphibian from Columbia County into iNaturalist, Matt and I add it to our database. We’ve divided the county into 100 equal-sized sections, and we’re marking whenever a species is found in one of those sections.
When the project is over, we will write and publish a paper on our findings. The paper will list how many reptiles and amphibians were recorded and include maps showing how many sectors each species was found in. None of your data will be public and we will not publish the exact locations of any finds, just the filled-in sectors to make maps like this:
Thanks for reading, and we’d love to have your participation! If you want to learn more about hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing here in Columbia County, continue exploring the website. Happy herping!