Leaping lizards! Reptile trackers sought.

By Laura Buck
The Calvert Recorder
Thursday, April 29, 2010

The next time you run across a frog or lizard -- whether you flee in terror or take it home as a new pet -- the Calvert County Natural Resources Division wants to know about it.

Calvert is participating in the Maryland Department of Natural Resources' compilation of "The Maryland Reptile and Amphibian Atlas," a five-year project surveying the presence of reptiles and amphibians, or "herps," in the state, said Andy Brown, the local division's senior naturalist.

The goal of the survey isn't merely to count all the reptiles, but to document which species inhabit certain areas, he said.

Brown, who is coordinating Calvert's efforts, said the county has been divided into six quadrants based on the U.S. Geological Survey. The quadrants were then divided into six blocks, for a total of 36 blocks in the county.

Brown said volunteers are needed to assist with the survey.

"For one person to do all of that is just overwhelming," he said, adding that volunteers would be in charge of reporting any amphibians and reptiles they come across in their daily lives.

Brown will enter all of the information into a system to report back to the state. The survey is not starting from scratch because the Natural History Society of Maryland has some previous records, he said.

The Natural History Society of Maryland, according to its Web site, is a nonprofit Baltimore-based organization with a mission to "foster stewardship of Maryland's natural heritage by conserving its natural history collections, educating its citizenry, and inspiring its youth to pursue careers in the natural sciences."

The organization's Web site -- Marylandnature.org -- said the purpose of atlas is to "establish a baseline for future efforts and to promote conservation and protection of amphibians and reptiles by systematically documenting their distributions throughout the state."

"It's probably been 100 years or more since that's been taking place," Brown said.

Reptile and amphibian populations tend to change with the season, he said, adding that observers are likely to see spring peeper frogs, which he described as "the little peepy things you hear when you're driving to the grocery store."

"They're probably going to be found on every block," he said.

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