Some people might think that amphibians only live in wild and faraway places.  But did you know that there are 14 species of frogs and 14 species of salamanders that can be found within the Atlanta metropolitan area?  While many of these amphibian species are somewhat resilient to the sometimes harsh conditions of urban living, ongoing human changes to the quality of the land and water within Atlanta negatively affects many species of frogs and salamanders that live here.

At the Amphibian Foundation, our Urban Ecology and Conservation research aims to better understand where amphibians are living in the Atlanta metropolitan area and why they choose those habitats in which to live.  By collecting information about what conditions best support the needs of each of these 28 species of amphibians, the Amphibian Foundation can support practices that conserve the species that remain within the Atlanta metro area, and we can even identify locations where native species can be introduced back into their original habitats. Through data collection and partnerships, the Urban Ecology and Conservation program at the Amphibian Foundation collaborates with metro Atlanta governments, non-profits, and other land managers to protect urban amphibians for future generations of Atlantans.

Ephemeral Wetland Ecology

Ephemeral Wetland Ecology

Some metro Atlanta salamanders, such as Marbled Salamanders and Spotted Salamanders, only live in temporary wetlands that hold water for part of the year and are dry for part of the year. Although these salamanders were once found throughout the Atlanta metro area, both species can now only be found in a reduced number of locations. We aim to determine what features of sites with Marbled or Spotted Salamanders allow for the largest populations, enabling us to support protection of sites where they are found and to identify locations where they are not found, but reintroduction may be possible.
Terrestrial Salamanders

Terrestrial Salamanders

Many metro Atlanta salamanders spend at least some portion of their lives on land, but two salamanders spend all of their lives in forests under moist logs and leaves. Terrestrial salamanders, like the Slimy Salamander and Southern Red-Backed Salamander, are particularly susceptible to changes in the plant life and ground conditions of the forests in which they live. We are currently conducting a study at a local Atlanta park to find out if the removal of invasive plant species through sheep grazing affects populations of terrestrial salamanders.
Metro Atlanta Amphibian Monitoring Program

Metro Atlanta Amphibian Monitoring Program

Many people love amphibians and want to help organizations like the Amphibian Foundation to conserve them. Soon, anyone in the Atlanta metro community can help! We are currently working to restart a Metro Atlanta Amphibian Monitoring Program, where trained community scientists help us gather data and learn more about where to find different species of frogs and salamanders throughout Atlanta. More information to come!
Urban Turtle Ecology

Urban Turtle Ecology

While turtles are not amphibians, they can be found in abundance on the Blue Heron Nature Preserve property where the Amphibian Foundation is located. Each summer, our urban research team captures, measures, and releases turtles within the preserve to better understand the species that live here and their population size.

 

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    Jake (Research Assistant) marveling at a late-stage Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) siredon.

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    Marbled Salamander (Ambystoma opacum) in an outdoor mesocosm. This male is one of the founding group used to spawn healthy offspring for repatriation studies in metro Atlanta.

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    Sasha (Amphibian Disease Biologist) snaps a shot in Pettyjohn Cave, one of our field sites for conservation research.

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    Tristan (Research Assistant) rather pleased at detecting Gopher Frog (Rana capito) eggs at a WMA in South Georgia.

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    Friends and colleagues Anthony Herrell and Isabella Toussaint (left) visiting a constructed wetland at the Atlanta History Center, a project led by Brett and Travis (right) at the AHC.

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    Maura (AF Urban Ecologist, second from left) and the Bridge team detecting a Marbled Salamander in an Atlanta forest.

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    Sasha (AF Amphibian Disease Biologist) recording swab data with the Research team at Pigeon Mountain WMA.

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    John (Consulting Biologist with AF) and Roxana (Research Coordinator) detecting a Siren at Joint Base Charleston, SC.

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    Michaela (AF Inventory Specialist, left) and Einola (Research Assistant) find a Common Snapper on the Blue Heron Nature Preserve, where AF is located.

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    Connor, Research Assistant in the Bridge excited at his plethodontid detection

  • Anthony And Isabelle Salamander Saviors

    Anthony Herrell and Isabella Toussaint saving larval Frosted Flatwoods Salamanders from dessication and delivering them to AF for inclusion in the Frosted Flatwoods Salamander Conservation redding Working Group

  • Course Work

    John Jensen, legendary and now retired state herpetologist for Georgia Department of Natural Resources shows students a Gopher Frog during the in-person Master Herpetologist Program

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    Anthony Herrell recording feeding data via high speed videography on larval and aquatic salamander feeding mechanisms

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    The Research team collecting trash data for a study on the impact of litter on stream health in Atlanta

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    Jack, Research Assistant marveling at one of the many resident Snapping Turtles on the nature preserve where AF is located

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    Kevin (AF Staff Photographer) and Roxana (AF Research Coordinator) @ Joint Base Charleston, SC

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    Jin and Einola, AF Research Assistants detect a hatchling Box Turtle at Blue Heron Nature Preserve

  • Casey's AF Lecture

    Caset Perkins, former Research Assistant in the Bridge and current Field Biologist @ AF gives his research symposium presenting the work he accomplished in the Bridge.

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    Morning Mesocosm Madness at MetaMo - the nickname for Metamorphosis Meadow, which in turn is the nickname for the Amphibian Research and Conservation Center (ARCC). ARCC is comprosded of 33 artifical and experimentally controllable wetlands called mesocosms. Each mesocosm holds a population of imperiled amphibians, such as Gopher Frogs and Flatwoods Salamanders, and also populations of local amphibians for repatriation and restoration projects like Spotted and Marbled Salamanders.

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    Sarah (left) Research Assistant with Claire, former AF volunteer and current staff in the Herpetology Department at Jacksonville Zoo.

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    Mark (right) and Anthony Mandica in a swamp looking for Flatwoods Salamanders at Fort Stewart, Liberty County, GA

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    Jack, Research Assistant using the right tool for the job — measuring the carapace length of a Stinkpot.

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    Einola, Research Assistant checking on one of the few Blue-sided Leaf Frogs remaining in the US.

  • Anthony's Lunch And Learn

    Anthony Herrell, visiting scholar @ AF, giving a lecture on the feeding mechanisms of salamanders

  • FRC

    Anthpony (left) and Crystal Mandica, with a team of volunteers getting ready to introduce our lab-reared adult Gopher Frogs into their outdoor mesocosms.

  • Field Surveys

    A Striped Newt survey team involving AF's Bridge, as well as Ryan from the Coastal Plains Institute (far left), Pierson from FWC (foot on large green net), and John (in the DNR shirt) from Georgia DNR

  • FrostyLab

    The breeding enclosures in the Frosted Flatwoods Salamander Lab. On the left is an indoor mesocosm, inhabited by 12 Frosties, and on the right are AF's Ecotonal Rainchambers, which mimics the nesting sites of flatwoods salamanders to encourage breeding.

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    Conoor (left) and Casey, Research Assistants in the Bridge, taking a quick break from dipnetting.

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    Jin, Research Assistant, enjoying the pleasant company of one of the Snapping Turtles occupying the nature preserve where Af is located: Blue Heron Nature Preserve.

  • John Jensen

    John Jensen, legendary and now retired state herpetologist for Georgia DNR, teaching the native amphibians portion of the in-person Master Herpetologist Program.

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    Kevin Blackwell, AF Staff Photographer, feeling pretty good about detecting an endangered Chamberlain's Dwarf Salamander during a survey of Joint Base Charleston, SC.

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    Mark Mandica, Co-founder of AF, showing of a larval FRosted Flatwoods Salamander he dipnetted in the last known occupied wetland in the state for the species (Fort Stewart, Liberty County, GA).

  • Master Herpetologists

    Recently certified Master Herpetologists visit the mesocosms at AF's Amphibian Research and Conservation Center.

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    Jen, Research Assistant, looking for recently metamorphosed Gopher Froglets in an outdoor mesocosm.

  • Microbiome

    One of the study sites for our microbiome research in Arizona. In this wetland lives a population of introduced African Clawed Frogs. Casey, AF Field Biologist has deployed Hydromoths — underwater frogloggers — to see if we can use these devices to detect Clawed Frog calls. The Hydromoth is attached to that white PVC pipe.

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    Ian, Research assistant, works on his venomous snake handling technique, while other Research Assistants safely watch.

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    John Palis, Consulting Biologist with our Bridge program, looking rather pleased with his Maybee's Salamander larva detection.

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    Ryan Means (left) with the Coastal Plains Institute, and Leslie Phillips (AF), attempting to identify a tadpole in John Jensen's (GA DNR) hand.

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    Kate, a student in Agnes Scott's Biology of the Amphibians course, assisting with surveys at Fort Stewart, Liberty County, GA

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  • Survey Techniques
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    A Green Salamander being swabbed for amphibian disease by the Conservation Research Bridge Program.

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    Volunteers Barb and Emma assist our Research Team (Bridge) in surveying Gopher Tortoise burrows with our 'Burrow Cam' for Gopher Frogs. Gopher Frogs are one of hundreds of species that occupy Gopher Tortoise burrows.

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    Conservation Research Bridge Program faculty, staff, and Research Assistants meeting with Georgia DNR outside of Pettyyjohn Cave, part of Crockford-Pigeon Mountain WMA.

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  • AHC   Spotted Larvae Collection 2304
  • Maampin
  • DiseaseTeam
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  • CReekCleanupCrewSnapper2
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  • Anthony And Isabelle Salamander Saviors
  • Course Work
  • Anthony @ AF 2304
  • CreekCleanupCrewTrashSorting
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  • Apr 6 2024 1 36 36 2
  • CreekSurveyTurtleInspection
  • Casey's AF Lecture
  • CrewPickingGreyTreeFrogEggs
  • DSC 0874
  • DSC 1767
  • DSC 4625
  • Einola And Annae
  • Anthony's Lunch And Learn
  • FRC
  • Field Surveys
  • FrostyLab
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  • JinSnapper (1)
  • John Jensen
  • Kevin With Chamberlains IMG 1471
  • MarkFrosty
  • Master Herpetologists
  • MetamorphCrew
  • Microbiome
  • PXL 20230310 170837921
  • Palis4R7A6902
  • Partnerships3
  • RyanNewtTalk
  • Salamander Field Ecology
  • SarahMrMudCreek4
  • StripedNewtBucketCheck
  • StripedNewtBucketCheck2
  • Survey Techniques
  • Swab
  • TortoiseBurrowCam
  • Pigeonmtncrew

Conservation Research Bridge Program — FAQs

  • What do I get from attending the Bridge Program at the Amphibian Foundation?

    There are many benefits to joining us as a Research Assistant or Research Scholar in the Bridge Program for Conservation Research. Benefits such as:

    • A broadened set of skills within the fields of conservation biology, experimental biology, organismal biology, all focusing on a variety of related disciplines.
    • Field and laboratory experience
    • Certification as a Master Herpetologist
    • Certification in Handling & Management in Venomous Reptiles
    • Mentored Research Experience
    • Cultivation of a network of research, academic, and agency professionals
    • Contribution to the conservation of state and federally listed endangered species
    • Career support in the form of recommendations, resume and CV building
    • Article writing and publications (2+ semesters)
    • Mentored Research design and implementation (2+ semesters)
    • Professional & Scientific presentations at conferences (Winter semester)
  • Who can enroll in the Conservation Research Bridge Program?

    All Bridge Program students must:

    • Be at least 18 years old at the time the program starts.
    • Follow written English and verbal instructions from program staff.
    • Follow the AF code of conduct regarding in-person and online activities.
    • Be able to move about independently or with a companion assistant in a range of outdoor wilderness habitats including but not limited to aquatic wetlands, forests, and urban parks.
    • Communicate clearly and efficiently with staff and peers about safety concerns or problems.
    • Make scheduled payments on time.
    • Have access to a home computer or laptop and a working cell phone.
    • Follow biosecurity and COVID protocols at all times.
  • Does it matter in which semester I enroll?

    Students can expect a similar training experience, regardless of which semester they are enrolled in. That said, certain opportunities are heightened during key activity periods of the year. For example, During Winter semesters (Dec-April), there is an increase in focus on Flatwoods Salamander monitoring, and during the Summer semesters (May-Sept), there is heightened focus on rearing Gopher Frog tadpoles for experimental release into the wild, and urban turtle community monitoring on our nature preserve.

    Here is a list of studies which occur year-round:

    Lab Husbandry + Propagation
    Urban Ecology
    Science Communication
    Course Enrollment
    Venomous Training & Certification
    Field Studies
    Amphibian Disease Studies
    Microbiome + Invasive Species Studies
    Biomechanics Studies
    Behavioral Studies

  • Can you help me find housing?

    Absolutely! Many of you are coming from outside the greater Atlanta area, and will need to at least temporarily relocated to participate in the Bridge Program. We are happy to help find suitable housing, and potentially suggest AF staff, interns, and volunteers looking for roomates.

  • When can I start?

    Preferably, you can start at the beginning of any of the three semesters (Spring, Summer, and Fall). We are happy to make arrangements with you if that is not possible.

  • What does tuition include?

    Tuition costs include on-campus instruction, courses + certifications, field equipment (boots, waders, etc ...), mentoring and access to the AF labs, libraries, resources, and connections

  • What does tuition not include?

    Housing, food, transport, and laptop (recommended), though there is a dedicated Apple computer with loaded software, in the Bridge.

  • Are scholarships, grants, and awards available?

    The Conservation Research Bridge Program is a tuition supported program, though we are actively seeking out grants and awards to support scholarships for students. There are several scholarships currently available, which can be viewed here. Once you apply to the program, we will work with you to apply all applicable and available scholarships.

  • Does the Bridge Program accept international students?

    Yes! While we are happy to assist with supporting documents and the visa application in general, the application itself is the responsibility of the applicant.

An introduction to the founding of the Conservation Research Bridge Program

Available Scholarships and Grant Awards

AF aggressively applies for grants and awards to support tuition relief for our prospective Research Assistants.

Available Scholarships are Listed Here.