NYT features LeClair’s citizen science project on migratory amphibians

The New York Times interviewed Greg LeClair, a graduate student of herpetology at the University of Maine, about his effort to rescue and collect data on migrating amphibians as they cross roads. LeClair founded Big Night Maine, a coalition of citizen scientists who help frogs, salamanders and other amphibians cross roads and count them during spring nights. The group has been exploring the possible effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the mortality rate of migrating amphibians. LeClair and his group rescued 1,487 amphibians across Maine and found another 335 dead, according to the article, about a 4-to-1 ratio. That exceeds the 2-to-1 ratio of frogs that crossed the road successfully to frogs that died last year. LeClair recognized the assessment was very preliminary, and determining the overall effect of COVID-19 on the survivability of migratory amphibians would be difficult. The UMaine graduate student, however, said if his findings hold up, they could inform discussions about temporarily closing roads or installing amphibian crossings. “It’s really exciting to see what might come of this year,” he said. “It’s not too often that we get this opportunity to explore the true impacts that human activity can have on road-crossing amphibians.”