WWF-Canada Blog:
Freshwater


#FrogFriday: A hope spot for frogs in Hyla Park

Written by Jessica Bradford, Communications Coordinator at Nature Trust of New Brunswick

For anyone passionate about wildlife conservation, it can be difficult to remain optimistic at times. We’re constantly bombarded with messages about the loss of biodiversity worldwide and this is especially the case for the world’s frogs, toads and other amphibians. In fact, according to Edward O. Wilson, researchers have coined the term ‘Declining Amphibian Phenomenon’ to describe the global loss of amphibian populations.

Hyla Park Pond © Sara Bakker

Hyla Park Pond © Sara Bakker

Despite this bleak opening for WWF’s first #FrogFriday blog post, I’m here to share a success story with you. We can celebrate a beautiful pocket of conservation that has been set aside specifically for the preservation of amphibian species. Located within the city limits of Fredericton, New Brunswick and in close proximity to the vast St. John River system, the place is Hyla Park Nature Preserve.

The name ‘Hyla Park’ comes from the original reason for the nature preserve’s existence – to protect the gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor). This small frog has the ability to camouflage by changing its colour between gray and green. In 1995, when the area was first protected through a lease agreement between the Nature Trust of New Brunswick and the City of Fredericton, Hyla Park contained the only known population of the tree frog in the Maritimes and at its most northeastern distribution in North America.

Hyla Park Grey Treefrog, Hyla Park, New Brunswick, © M. Sheppard

Hyla Park Grey Treefrog, Hyla Park, New Brunswick, © M. Sheppard

Since becoming a protected area, Hyla Park Nature Preserve has received status and bragging rights as ‘Canada’s first amphibian sanctuary’ and it’s not hard to see why. It’s also home to six other species of frogs/toads, including the Northern leopard frog (Lithobates pipiens), wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus), spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer), green frog (Lithobates clamitans), American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus), and American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus).

Green Frog (Rana clamitans), Hyla Park, New Brunswick © Jessica Bradford

Green Frog (Rana clamitans), Hyla Park, New Brunswick © Jessica Bradford

This means seven out of the nine species of frogs in New Brunswick live within Hyla Park’s nine hectares of wetland and woodland. As well as other species of salamanders and newts found there, making for a wonderful outdoor classroom.

I’m always amazed to think about how much life exists in this small area (in an urban setting at that). And the importance of having it preserved for the future. It’s even more amazing to think about Hyla Park’s past and how it’s gone from quarry, to dumpsite, to stock car raceway and now – to a beacon of biodiversity and hope.

Sylvia Earle coined the concept of ‘Hope Spots’ to refer to networks of marine protected areas critical to the health of our oceans. I, along with many others, consider Hyla Park to be a Hope Spot for frogs, and freshwater ecosystems as a whole, in our province.

Happy Frog Friday and cheers to many more to come!