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International Journal of Zoology
Volume 2012, Article ID 348653, 11 pages
Research Article

The Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas: A Volunteer-Based Distributional Survey

1The Natural History Society of Maryland, P.O. Box 18750, Baltimore, MD 21206, USA
2Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, 1361 Wrighton Road, Lothian, MD 20711, USA
3Wildlife and Heritage Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, 580 Taylor Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21401, USA

Received 5 March 2012; Accepted 19 April 2012

Academic Editor: Richard Stafford

Copyright © 2012 Heather R. Cunningham et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Declines of amphibian and reptile populations are well documented. Yet a lack of understanding of their distribution may hinder conservation planning for these species. The Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas project (MARA) was launched in 2010. This five-year, citizen science project will document the distribution of the 93 amphibian and reptile species in Maryland. During the 2010 and 2011 field seasons, 488 registered MARA volunteers collected 13,919 occurrence records that document 85 of Maryland's amphibian and reptile species, including 19 frog, 20 salamander, five lizard, 25 snake, and 16 turtle species. Thirteen of these species are of conservation concern in Maryland. The MARA will establish a baseline by which future changes in the distribution of populations of native herpetofauna can be assessed as well as provide information for immediate management actions for rare and threatened species. As a citizen science project it has the added benefit of educating citizens about native amphibian and reptile diversity and its ecological benefits—an important step in creating an informed society that actively participates in the long-term conservation of Maryland's nature heritage.