RCN Project on New Species of Leopard Frog Presented to Regional Wildlife Diversity Leaders

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RCN Project on New Species of Leopard Frog Presented to Regional Wildlife Diversity Leaders

The Northeast Fish and Wildlife Diversity Technical Committee (NEFWDTC) met this fall in Blue Mountain Lake, New York for their annual meeting. The NEFWDTC is composed of State Wildlife Diversity Program Managers or their designees from 13 northeastern states and D.C. The NEFWDTC provides leadership for fish and wildlife diversity for the northeast states. The NEFWDTC provides technical oversight of the Regional Conservation Needs (RCN) grant program that is administered by the Wildlife Management Institute. The fall meeting is a venue for current RCN project leaders to present their projects and current progress to the committee. This year, the status of an RCN-funded project that describes a new species of Leopard Frog was shared and recommendations on funding for 2014 research projects were made.

Dr. Matthew Schlesinger, chief zoologist for the NY Natural Heritage Program presented information on his 2013 RCN project through the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, "Distribution and conservation status of the newly described species of Leopard Frog in the coastal northeast." Dr. Schlesinger described his experiences with leopard frogs and the study that determined the new species was genetically distinct from the northern and southern species. His current RCN project is using bioacoustics, morphological and genetic data to determine the distribution of the species in nine states. The study will also determine if calls and field marks can be used to distinguish among species throughout the range.

The opportunity to present was helpful to both Dr. Schlesinger and the committee members. The committee was able to ask questions after the first year of the project and before the second year is underway. The committee decided to use funds to continue the project as originally proposed, rather than change the sampling methods to reduce cost as was suggested when the project was selected for funding.

The NEFWDTC members also voted on which 2014 RCN proposals should be recommended for funding. This year, "Design and implementation for sustaining wildlife populations in the Northeast" from High Branch Conservation Services and "Rapid salamander monitoring and habitat assessment protocols for the Northeast" from Drexel University, were recommended for funding. The agency Directors will review the proposals and make the final decisions in November 2014.

NEFWDTC members also reviewed the focal topics and determined that the 2015 Request for Proposals (RFP) will address the same focal areas as the 2014 RFP. The RCN grant program can fund up to $100,000 per project and requires a 50 percent match of non-Federal funds. The 2015 RFP will be issued January 2015 with $250,000 available in total project funds; the RFP and instructions to apply for a grant will be available at RCNgrants.org. (mg)

October 16, 2014