Amphibian Baseline Surveys

Amphibian Baseline Surveys

The Conservancy is in the process of establishing management plans for the Black Diamond Mines, Deer Valley, and Vasco Hills/Byron Vernal Pools Management Areas. Nomad conducted a combination of grant-funded and Conservancy-funded habitat assessments and aquatic larval surveys for California red-legged frog and California tiger salamander to collect baseline data to inform the management plans and to meet the goals of the HCP/NCCP. More than 60 ponds were surveyed over three years between 2017 and 2019.

Due to negative results in 2018 within the Deer Valley Management Preserve, many of the ponds were resurveyed in 2019. Ponds within the Roddy Ranch Golf Course were surveyed in spring 2019. California tiger salamander larvae and California red-legged frog adults and tadpoles were positively identified in approximately half of the ponds within these management areas.

To develop a greater understanding of site-specific habitat requirements for these species within east Contra Costa County, unique and detailed habitat assessment and survey methods were utilized to collect habitat information, including water quality parameters, and type and percent cover of vegetation. The survey methods were approved by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Reports were prepared for each survey year summarizing the survey methods and results and providing management recommendations.

Challenges and complexities for the pond study were numerous and included access difficulties, maintenance of specialized water quality monitoring equipment, less than average rain years resulting in subpar hydroperiod conditions, and the cyclical nature of the species' breeding patterns. Successes of the pond study included gathering critical baseline data for preserves which established species presence and identified detailed habitat information. This data allowed for establishing management recommendations and prioritizing these recommendations for implementation so that they have the greatest chance at expanding species' populations throughout the preserves.

LOCATION: Eastern Contra Costa County
CLIENT: East Contra Costa Habitat Conservancy

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