Classroom & Laboratories @ AF

Where our ex-situ magic happens Where our ex-situ magic happens

There's no place on earth like the Amphibian Foundation.

Located at the beautiful, 30-acre Blue Heron Nature Preserve in Atlanta, AF is comprised of 6 biosecure laboratories, a classroom, more than 30 staff members, and over 50 volunteers. Here is a photographic tour of our facilities.

Blue Heron Nature Preserve4055 Roswell Road NEAtlanta, GA 30342

Blue Heron Nature Preserve
4055 Roswell Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30342

We are located at the beautiful Blue Heron Nature Preserve in Buckhead (Atlanta). We share the space with Blue Heron staff and visitors, and Acton Academy.

Blue Heron Nature Preserve

Blue Heron Nature Preserve

Isn't this entryway nice and inviting?

Well, to get to AF, you are going to want to find and walk into a much creepier door, up the ramp to the right of the main entrance (pictured here). We tried to get a nice picture of our actual door, but it's not possible. 

If you feel a vague sense on unease when you are approaching the side door (AF's front door), you are in the right place.

AF Classroom

AF Classroom

Jeffrey, AF Facilities Manager, pictured here mid-build for our new stage, tortoise spa, preserved specimen and merchandise displays.

AF Classroom

AF Classroom

This is the room where we host our classes and events. It's a spectacular room for learning in an amphibious environment. The room is adorned with Joel Sartore's Vanishing Amphibians exhibit, which he generously donated to AF. It has a stage surrounded with cataloged and preserved specimens that students can use in their studies.

AF Classroom

AF Classroom

Students are fascinated with the preserved specimens on display in the classroom, including Lucille. Sadly, Lucille has passed, but she came to us as a retired television star. She was on the Chupacabra episode of the Walking Dead.

AF Classroom

AF Classroom

Crystal and Amanda set up the back of the classroom with 'classroom animals' for Critter Camp. Each camp has their own classroom animals to care for and observe during the week.

AF Classroom

AF Classroom

Mark unpacking one of Joel Satore's photographs. Joel Sartore (National Geographic PhotoArk) donated his Vanishing Amphibians exhibit to the Amphibian Foundation when the tour concluded.

AF Classroom

AF Classroom

Joel Sartore (National Geographic PhotoArk) visited the Amphibian Foundation, and it was a great opportunity to snap a picture of him in front of the incredible photographs he donated.

AF Classroom

AF Classroom

Perhaps a fan favorite specimen among our students and campers is this American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) which happened to choke to death on an Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus). The horticulture staff @ ABG found the two floating in a fountain in midtown Atlanta. It was clearly a bad day for both of them.

AF Classroom

AF Classroom

Marjan, Venomous Programs Coordinator, during Venom Class aka Venomous Training and Certification Program.

AF Classroom

AF Classroom

Staff and Volunteers after our annual Behind-the-Scenes Tour, which we do each year in March, as part of the Atlanta Science Festival.

Education and Collections Office

Education and Collections Office

In the back of the classroom is the Education and Collections Office, where Crystal (Director of Education), Amanda (Education Coordinator and Lab Manager), Taylor (Educational Programs Coordinator), and Michaela (Inventory Specialist) have a toad donk for inspiration.

AF Classroom

AF Classroom

In the back of the classroom is an 8-foot tall Rainchamber exhibit featuring Anthony's Poison Frogs (Epipedobates anthonyi) which has at least 3 generations (grand-babies) of frogs and tadpoles, and Black-footed Golden Poison Frogs (Phyllobates terribilis). Both species sing throughout the day. There's also an Emerald Tree Boa (Corallus caninus) in there — see if you can find her when you visit, she's sneaky.

Amphibian Lab

Amphibian Lab

The Amphibian Lab @ AF houses a cosmopolitan collection of temperate, aquatic, fossorial, arboreal, and neotropical species for various conservation and research projects and educational programs.

Amphibian Lab

Amphibian Lab

Crystal (Collections Manager) holding an Emperor Newt (Tylototriton shanjing) in the Amphibian Lab at AF.

Amphibian Lab

Amphibian Lab

This is the aquatics section of the Amphibian Lab. It houses various species of newts, aquatic frogs and caecilians, and also some aquatic reptiles.

Amphibian Lab

Amphibian Lab

Lake Titicaca Frog, Telmatobius culeus, in the aquatics section of the Amphibian Lab.

Amphibian Lab

Amphibian Lab

Nadine (Research Assistant), Ashley (Conservation Collections Coordinator), and Cole (Research Assistant) standing in front of the mist-line on the Amphibian Lab. The frogs and toads housed on the mist line get rained on perdiodically throughout the day and night.

Conservation Research Bridge Program - Research Lab

Conservation Research Bridge Program - Research Lab

Dedicated Bridge Program and research space is centrally located at AF.

Conservation Research Bridge Program - Research Lab

Conservation Research Bridge Program - Research Lab

Biomechanical feeding research on larval and aquatic salamanders by Anthony Herrell, AF friend and colleague.

Director's Office

Director's Office

Mark's office at AF also holds a huge Greater Siren (Siren lacertina), Rufus, and non-native venomous snakes such as a Gaboon Viper, Monacled Cobra, and Eyelash Viper.

Flatwoods Salamander Lab

Flatwoods Salamander Lab

Natane (Research Assistant) and Ashley (Conservation Collections Coordinator) holding Frosted Flatwoods Salamanders in the lab, nicknamed the Frosty Lab.

Flatwoods Salamander Lab

Flatwoods Salamander Lab

This is the world's first captive survival-assurance colony of the Frosted Flatwoods Salamander. This lab was also the first room established when AF was founded in 2016. Funding to develop this lab to a salamander holding facility was provided by the Turner Foundation.

Flatwoods Salamander Lab

Flatwoods Salamander Lab

These are the breeding setups for flatwoods salamanders in the Frosty Lab. On the left is an Indoor Mesocosm, where we have attempted to mimic the natural understory of the Longleaf Pine ecosystem. Twelve 'Frosties' were released into the mesocosm as larvae and have since metamorphosed and have made attempts at breeding, with no success to date.

On the right are three Ecotonal Rainchambers, which are attempting to mimic the nesting area (ecotone, or the area of gradient from wetland to upland) and encourage breeding. It was in two of these Ecotonal Rainchambers where we bred the species for the first time. Click the link to read the Newsweek article covering our success.

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Striped Newt Lab

Striped Newt Lab

The Striped Newt, Notophthalmus perstriatus, is an imperiled species in the Southeast, with a severely limited range in Florida and Georgia. As a member of the Striped Newt Repatriation Project, which aims to restore stability to Striped Newt populations thoroughout their range. You can see our Striped Newt partners on our partner page. Here's Ian, AF Research Assistant, in clear approval of the newt propagation program.

Striped Newt Lab

Striped Newt Lab

Conservation Research Bridge Program Research Assistants Cole and Sam swab an imperiled Striped Newt (Notophthalmus perstriatus) for emergent infectious diseases such as Bd aka 'chytrid'.
Squamate Lab

Squamate Lab

Lizards and snakes are so closely related to each other, that they are taxonomically united into the group Squamata. Our Squamate Lab houses our ambassador lizards and snakes, which are used for educational and training programs like Critter Camp and the Venomous Training & Certification Workshop. Here is Crystal (Collections Manager) in the Squamate Lab at AF.

Squamate Lab

Squamate Lab

Both the Classroom and the Squamate Lab are Herb's. Herb is our resident Argentine Tegu, Salvator merianae (he's permitted and micro-chipped) and he's usually allowed to wander the area at his discretion. If you like large, friendly lizards, you will love Herb.

Special Collections

Special Collections

This is the Reptile Megaplex, which is part of Special Collections at AF. The Megaplex was the first project for our Facilities Manager, Jeffrey. Built during the pandemic, it was such as success that we asked him to build the adjoining 'phone booth' to the left, which was an urgent need when USFWS asked us if we could house confiscated Solomon Island Skinks, Corucia zebrata an incredible, prehensile-tailed lizard.

Special Collections

Special Collections

Special Collections is the term we use to describe all animals not housed in the other labs. It includes all of our ambassador turtles and tortoises, as well as an assortment of lizards and snakes. Special Collections includes all holding in the main hallway at AF, as you can see here with Crystal cleaning the Rio Fuerte Beaded Lizard (Heloderma exasperatum) enclosure.

Special Collections

Special Collections

This is the Poison versus Venom exhibit, which houses Splash-back Poison Frogs, Adelphobates galactonotus, Mint Golden Poison Frogs, Phyllobates terribilis, and an Eyelash Viper, Bothriechis schlegelii.

Special Collections

Special Collections

Crystal, Collections Manager, handling a rather handsome Rio Fuerte Beaded Lizard, Heloderma exasperatum.

Venom Lab

Venom Lab

The Venom Lab at AF safely holds species of venomous snakes for education, outreach, and training programs, such as the Venomous Training & Certification Workshop offered every other month. The lab is also where Competency Training occurs on bi-monthly weekends. The Venom Lab door is adorned with an impressive collection of herp and conservation stickers — front and back — with some of our favorite groups and partners.

Venom Lab

Venom Lab

Equipment used in the Venomous Training & Certification Workshop every other month on the first weekend.

Some of the species housed in the Venom Lab are:

Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix)
Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus)
Eastern Diamondback (Crotalus adamanteus)
Western Diamondback (Crotalus atrox)
Northern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus)
Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)

Venom Lab

Venom Lab

The Venom Lab is where the venomous snakes are housed and also where Venomous Competency Training occurs. These trainings are every other month for the public, but occur each Friday for our Research Assistants through the Conservation Research Bridge Program.

Blue Heron Nature Preserve

Blue Heron Nature Preserve

Blue Heron Nature Preserve is a 30-acre nature preserve right in the heart of Atlanta. There are two creeks running through the preserve and several wetlands. Here is Jack, Research Assistant, conducting urban ecology surveys, so we can keep an eye on how the wildlife is doing in an urban environment.

Amphibian Research & Conservation Center - ARCC

Amphibian Research & Conservation Center - ARCC

The Amphibian Research & Conservation Center (ARCC) of the Amphibian Foundation is a unique outdoor laboratory containing 33 artificial wetlands called mesocosms, which provide a natural, yet controllable setting for native amphibians for conservation breeding research and to form captive survival-assurance colonies for species at risk of extinction. The ARCC also includes the Field Research Center, which is a solar-powered indoor lab that we share with Blue Heron Nature Preserve staff.

Amphibian Research & Conservation Center - ARCC

Amphibian Research & Conservation Center - ARCC

Mesocosms in the Morning. This photo, taken by Anthony Mandica, depicts a peacful morning @ Metamorphosis Meadow. AKA MetaMo, which is a nickname for the outdoor portion of the ARCC

Amphibian Research & Conservation Center - ARCC

Amphibian Research & Conservation Center - ARCC

Research Assistants in the Conservation Research Bridge Program: Jack, Jen, and Sarah checking on the developing Gopher Frog tadpoles being reared for an Assisted-Metamorphosis project in collaboration with Alabama DCNR, UGA, GA DNR, and USFWS.

Amphibian Research & Conservation Center - ARCC

Amphibian Research & Conservation Center - ARCC

Look you can see our mesocosms from space!

Welcome!

Welcome!

Blue Heron Nature Preserve is a City of Atlanta Park, and open to the public from dawn to dusk. You are welcome and invited to come and see the mesocosms at Metamorphosis Meadow, and the Blueway Trail will lead you right to them. Thanks to a Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Viewing Grant, we were able to make these incredible signs explaining why the mesocosms are there, and what we are doing with them.


Click here to see our upcoming events at AF, so you can see for yourself
!