Amphibian Crossing Project

Helping Salamanders (and other amphibians!) Safely Cross the Road

Along with a group of volunteers and members of Richland and East Rockhill Townships, Heritage Conservancy established Quakertown Swamp Amphibian Rescue Partnership. Every year, this partnership helps to provide safe passage for small amphibian creatures across a busy road during breeding season at the end of each winter.

In the Quakertown Swamp, one of Heritage Conservancy’s Lasting Landscapes®, frogs, salamanders, and other amphibians indigenous to the swamp must cross a busy road in order to get to the vernal pools on the other side to breed. The journey to the breeding grounds can be quite dangerous for these creatures. Passersby usually don’t notice them on the road, and therefore, few cars slow down to allow them to cross safely. Unfortunately, this is the sad case for thousands of salamanders, frogs and other amphibians in the Quakertown Swamp area, which is the largest inland wetland in the county.

Amphibian crossings usually occur in the evening during the first warm winter’s rain. The actual salamander rescue project is scheduled to take place in early spring. It takes only a few nights for all of the salamanders and other amphibians to reach the vernal pools. During this time, drivers should be aware and use caution.

Why do we do so much to protect them? Amphibians are excellent bio-indicators. They have permeable skin that can easily absorb toxic chemicals from both air and water, so they are very sensitive to any changes to the quality of their surroundings. A drop in population of amphibians could be an indication of the degradation of the health of the surrounding environment. Amphibians are a vital part of the swamp’s functioning ecosystem. They eat insects and other small aquatic and terrestrial plants and animals. In turn, they provide food for fish, snakes, turtles, larger frogs, birds, and small carnivorous and omnivorous mammals.

Most amphibians require both land and water at different stages of their lives to survive and reproduce. Amphibians are born in water as larval forms and eventually undergo metamorphosis, changing into an adult form. Many species leave the water to live out their adult lives in a terrestrial environment, but they must return to water to breed and lay eggs.

To find out more about this project, contact Shannon Fredebaugh at 215-345-7020 ext. 104.