One of the most important functions of conservation authorities is the protection of natural lands. By reviewing construction and development plans in our watershed, HCA is able to protect important natural areas and the species of wildlife that inhabit them. But how do we know what plants, animals and amphibians live in certain areas in order to protect them? Nature Counts!
Nature Counts is a Natural Areas Inventory (NAI), a complete inventory of natural areas in Hamilton, created so that current information on plant and wildlife species, vegetation communities, and site boundaries is available for agencies which are responsible for protecting and enhancing natural features. It was first carried out in 1991 by the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club and partners and again in 2001-2002 with an inventory published in 2003. Partners are now planning an update to the NAI for publication in the summer of 2014. This project is a collaborative effort between the Hamilton Conservation Authority, the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club, the City of Hamilton and other partners.
To carry out the inventory, field staff will study the natural areas in Hamilton to see if conditions have changed, if the rare species that were reported are still present, to check for new rare species, and to update information on the plant communities and the boundaries of the site for mapping purposes. They will also be examining some new natural areas that have never been inventoried. This work will be carried out in the summers of 2010 to 2013.
The Nature Counts study give us a great amount of information on where different plant and animal species occur and whether they are significant at a local, provincial, or national level. This information tells us whether a particular natural area is especially deserving of environmental protection in the city’s Official Plan based on its features and functions in the environment, and helps us make better decisions on how to protect these natural areas in a developing urban centre.
When the project is complete, agencies will have an updated tool that include a new natural areas summary document with complete inventory of flora and selected fauna, ecological land classification descriptions, evaluation and recommendations, a revised annotated species checklists of vascular plants, fish, breeding birds, mammals, butterflies, reptiles and amphibians based on new occurrence information and historical data and mapping of the core areas, vegetation communities, rare species locations, and rare habitats. Because these inventories will have been carried out each of the last three decades, the information will be a valuable monitoring tool for changes in natural areas and the species that inhabit them over time.
If you are interested in knowing what species of frogs are in your backyard and neighbourhood, check out these amazing websites! These resources have datasheets for you to document your observations, and vocalization recordings so that you can listen and learn the calls. Happy frogging!
Amphibian monitoring is carried out by listening to frogs and toads and recording what you hear.
Here is the tally from the NAI’s 2012 amphibian monitoring program:
Total Number of frogs/toads: >516
Average number of frogs\toads per point count: unestimatable
Total species richness (number of species): 8
There are 9 frog species and 1 toad species in the City of Hamilton. See if you can find them all!
- American toad
- Chorus frog
- Grey tree frog
- Northern leopard frog
- Spring peeper
- Wood frog
- Mink frog
- Pickerel frog
- Green frog
PARTNERS and SUPPORTERS
Ontario Trillium Foundation
The Natural Areas Inventory Project is generously supported financially by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The Ontario Trillium Foundation is an agency of the Government of Ontario.