Catawba River Corridor Coverboard Program: A Citizen Science Approach to Amphibian and Reptile Inventory

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Abstract/Description: Coverboards are a useful inventory tool for many species of amphibians and reptiles, and provide a simple and effective method to involve the public in scientific research. The Davidson College Catawba River Corridor Coverboard Program (CRCCP) was initiated in 2003 to help coordinate the efforts of public and private sectors in surveying amphibians and reptiles. Fourteen sites were established within the Catawba River Corridor in North and South Carolina. Participants included schools, private industries and locally-operated nature preserves. The Davidson College Herpetology Laboratory and Duke Power Environmental Laboratory helped set out coverboards at each site. The CRCCP website ( provided participants with assistance in species identification, protocols and online datasheets. A total of 38 species was documented between 2003 and 2005, including 18 species of amphibians and 20 species of reptiles. Coverboards proved more effective for inventory of salamanders, anurans and lizards (47%, 44% and 48%, respectively, of within-range species), and less effective for snakes and turtles (35%, and 24%, respectively, of within-range species). The CRCCP provided the opportunity for many people, including numerous school children, to become involved in scientific research. Although acceptance of species identification necessitates caution without voucher photographs, the program has added significantly to our knowledge of the distributions of amphibians and reptiles in the region. Data collected through the CRCCP are essential to the development of effective monitoring programs and conservation measures.
Subject(s): herpetology
citizen science