Operation Frog Pond
Saving amphibians can start in your own backyard!
The alluring sight and sound of water in the home landscape has made water gardening one of the fastest growing segments of home gardening. Millions of people are enjoying ornamental ponds and watercourses at their homes at a time when frogs, toads, and other amphibians are facing declines due to loss of breeding habitat. Tree Walkers International has launched Operation Frog Pond (OFP) to put the popularity of home water gardening to work for amphibian conservation.
The goal of Operation Frog Pond is to create high quality habitat for amphibians where they need it most by promoting the establishment of amphibian-friendly ornamental ponds and wetlands.
In order to help do this, OFP offers small grants to schools, community groups, and neighborhood coalitions to aid in the purchase of materials and construction of amphibian-friendly ponds. These projects not only provide much needed breeding habitat for area amphibians, but also become outdoor classrooms that allow students experiential learning opportunities.
Become a Research Associate
Improving habitat for amphibians around the home depends on our understanding of what amphibians need most. The OFP Research Associate program is designed to improve our knowledge of what works and what doesn’t for creating high quality breeding and living habitat for amphibians. Regardless whether your project is a small 5 gallon bucket, or a large pond or lake, we encourage you to share your results.
Becoming an OFP Research Associate is easy. Just fill out a New Project Form for each amphibian habitat project you create. After you submit a new project, you will be given a unique project identification code. Use this code when you submit periodic Amphibian Monitoring Reports to document the results of you project.
You may submit an Amphibian Monitoring Report form for a project as often as you like. We recommend that, at a minimum, you monitor your pond several times throughout the spring for signs of amphibian activity and report your results at least once a year. Of course frequent monitoring throughout the months when amphibians are active will give a more complete picture of the amphibian activity around your pond. Whether you submit a report each time you survey for amphibians, or submit a single report for multiple surveys is up to you. The important thing is that all results (both positive and negative) are reported. Your results will be attached to the information you provide about your project so they can be analyzed to tell us the factors most important to successfully attract amphibians to your pond.
Some pond projects may not produce the desired results. We encourage research associates to experiment with their projects to improve success. When modifications are made to a project, we ask that you submit an OFP Experimenter’s Form to report any changes to your original design or management activities.
Download forms by clicking on the links below:
Important! You must have Adobe 7.0 or higher to submit forms downloaded from this page.
- OFP New Project Form
- OFP Amphibian Monitoring Report Form
- OFP Experimenter’s Form(to report changes to existing projects)
You can survey amphibians around your pond by sight and sound. Listening for frog and toad calls is the best way to determine whether they are present at your pond.
Frogs and toads can often also be observed visually in and around your pond. Many frogs are active by day and can best be observed by sitting quietly and without motion for several minutes next to your pond. Toads and many frogs, such as tree frogs, may also be active at night and are frequently seen feeding on insects attracted to lights. Reporting observations of eggs and tadpoles is just as important as reporting adults.
Both eggs and tadpoles can often be found by careful observation of ponds. Eggs are often deposited near the edges of ponds and among vegetation. Frog eggs typically appear as dark eggs within masses of jelly, often attached to plant stems and debris. Toad eggs are similar except they are typically laid as single strands of eggs connected together by jelly like sausage. Tadpoles can often be observed swimming in the water. A dip net can also be useful for briefly capturing tadpoles so they can be recorded. Remember that handling amphibians is more stressful to them than just looking at them so try to handle amphibians only when necessary.
Salamanders can often be difficult to observe but can often be found by overturning logs rocks, and other shelter. When lifting a rock or turning a log, always stand behind the rock or log and lift so the opening is on the opposite side of the rock or log from your body. This provides a barrier to protect you if there is a venomous snake or wasps under the object being lifted. ALWAYS carefully replace rocks and logs to their original position when you are finished surveying to leave the habitat as good as you found it. The best time to observe salamanders is when the ground is damp and the temperature is warm enough for salamanders to become active but not hot.