Amphibian Studies in the Chicago Wilderness

Kenneth S. Mierzwa

File begun: August 20, 2000 - last update: February 14, 2006

From 1990 through 1997, volunteeers monitored amphibian populations at Spears Woods in Cook County. This remains one of the longest continuous amphibian datasets at a Midwestern location. Results through 1995 were published in "Status and Conservation of Midwestern Amphibians."

In 1999, Ken Mierzwa and Victoria Nuzzo completed a detailed research study of the relationship between amphibian abundance and habitat structure. Extensive amphibian and vegetation data were gathered at 12 sites in Lake and Will Counties Illinois, and better and lesser quality sites were compared statistically. Amphibians were most abundant at sites which had longer lasting breeding ponds and a denser herbaceous layer. This research was funded by a USEPA grant with additional support from the Lake County Forest Preserve District and the Forest Preserve District of Will County, and the results will eventually be available via the USEPA/GLNPO web site.

At Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Ralph Grundel and Dave Beamer have been monitoring numerous drift fences over the past two field seasons. This effort is documenting habitat relationships as well as the effects of restoration efforts, including prescribed fire.

Jacqueline Schlosser, a PhD candidate at UIC, is investigating the degree of genetic differentiation of western chorus frogs and northern leopard frogs at several Lake County IL sites. The preserves being studied are fragmented to various degrees, and are isolated from each other by either a two-lane rural road, four-lane state route, or Interstate highway. This study should eventually shed light on the relative importance of different types of dispersal barriers.

An ambitious Lake County Forest Preserve District effort to monitor the effects of habitat restoration at MacArthur Woods Nature Preserve kicked off in 2000. Amphibians are one of several taxa being studied here. Baseline data gathering is complete, and this winter drain tiles will be removed and buckthorn cleared. Ken Mierzwa and Russ Hendricks designed the amphibian monitoring and hope to document a recovery as hydrology and vegetation are restored.

In addition to the monitoring and research efforts described above, at least the following site inventories have been completed:
  • Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore: Alan Resetar, ca. 1975-2000.

  • DuPage County Forest Preserves, numerous sites: Dan Ludwig, Mike Redmer, and others, mid-1980s.

  • South Suburban Airport Study, Cook/Will/Kankakee IL, Lake IN: TAMS Consultants, 1991-92 and 1994.

  • Will County, various preserves: Dave Mauger, 1988-2000.

  • Poplar Creek Forest Preserve: Robert Sliwinski with site stewards, 1991.

  • Chiwaukee Prairie: Gary Casper.

  • Middlefork Savanna: Ken Mierzwa and Ellin Beltz, 1993.

  • McHenry County Conservation District, various preserves: Ken Mierzwa and Ellin Beltz, 1989-94.

  • Kane County, various preserves: Drew Ullberg, ca. 1997-99.

  • Cook County Forest Preserves: Tom Anton, 1997-98.

  • Tinley Creek Woods: Satie Airame, early 1990s.

  • Lake County IL, various preserves: Russ Hendricks, 1997-2000.

  • Illinois Beach State Park: Bill Wengelewski, 1999-2000.
Frogs and Toads of the Chicago Region
Northern Cricket Frogs
Acris crepitans blanchardi
American Toads
Bufo americanus
Fowler's Toads
Bufo woodhousii fowleri
Tree Frogs (two species)
Hyla versicolor complex
Spring Peepers
Pseudacris crucifer
Western Chorus Frogs
Pseudacris triseriata
Rana catesbeiana
Green Frogs
Rana clamitans
Pickeral Frogs
Rana palustris
Northern Leopard Frogs
Rana pipiens
Wood Frogs
Rana sylvatica
Plains Leopard Frogs
Rana blairi

My frog book

Frogs: Inside Their Remarkable World

More Chicago-Region Amphibian Information on my Site

Status of Chicago Region Amphibians by County

Amphibian links

My homepage

Ellin Beltz
February 14, 2006

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