The Virginia Living Museum staff and volunteers participate in several field conservation projects.
Clean the Bay Day – Chesapeake Bay Foundation
VLM volunteers and staff participate in the CBF’s annual “Clean the Bay Day” to remove trash and debris from creeks, streams and rivers of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The VLm crew cleans the creeks and shorelines of Deer Park Lake and Lake Maury, which flow directly into James River, the largest Chesapeake Bay tributary in Virginia. Read more about the CBF event.
Coastal Cleanup – Ocean Conservancy
VLM volunteers and staff participate in Ocean Conservancy’s annual “International Coastal Cleanup” to remove trash and debris from local coast lines. Dozens of volunteers pick up a wide variety of trash and objects along the shoreline and also by boat. Read more about the Ocean Conservancy event.
Herpetology staff have trained to host a FrogWatch USA chapter to help recruit, train and support volunteers to conduct population surveys and support amphibian conservation through citizen science. Read more about FrogWatch.
“FrogWatch USA is AZA’s flagship citizen science program that invites individuals and families to learn about the wetlands in their communities and help conserve amphibians by reporting the calls of local frogs and toads. For over ten years, volunteers have been trained to enter their FrogWatch USA information and ongoing analyses of these data have been used to help develop practical strategies for the conservation of these important species” – AZA 2014.
North American Amphibian Monitoring Program (NAAMP)
In conjunction with Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the VLM acts as Administrator for the public Amphibian Monitoring program. NAAMP is a partnership of state and local agencies that help recruit and train volunteer observers to monitor amphibian populations by sound. NAAMP volunteers identify species by their distinct calls and record the approximate numbers of each species.
Amphibians are often used as indicator species for the health of ecosystems, as they are particularly vulnerable to a variety of detrimental conditions. Their permeable skin is sensitive to chemical pollutants as are the eggs they lay in shallow ponds. There are 26 frog and toad species in Virginia and NAAMP helps keep a relative count of their numbers throughout the years. Read more about the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program.
The VLM collaborates with oyster spat settlement research conducted by Dr. Russ Burke and Christopher Newport University as well as field restoration led by the Nature Conservancy. Staff helps collect and analyze/categorize spat settlement samples from an artificial oyster reef structure in Dr Burke’s lab. Staff also assists in the construction of artificial oyster reefs using castle blocks to “raise the surface” of old oyster reefs to help them “become functional oyster habitat that will be capable of keeping up with sea level rise.” Read more about oyster castle blocks.