A project of the Maryland Amphibian & Reptile Atlas (MARA)


The Lower Shore Herp Atlas is a collaborative effort between Salisbury University, Delmarva Low Impact Tourism Experiences, Maryland Coastal Bays Program, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.   It is part of a five year project organized by Maryland's Department of Natural Resources and the Natural History Society of Maryland to assess the distribution of amphibians and reptiles throughout the state of Maryland (http://www.marylandnature.org/mara/).  The Lower Shore effort is focused on Wicomico, Worcester, and Somerset counties.  

Project Description

Each year for the next five years, the lower shore herp atlas project aims to systematically document all amphibian and reptile species (also known as "herps") on the Lower Eastern Shore.  We are seeking volunteers to assist with this effort in any way possible.  First and foremost, we are looking for quad and block leaders.  The atlas project is divided up geographically into USGS Quadrangles (quads, Fig. 1).  Each quad is further subdivided into 6 equal-sized "blocks" (Norwest, Northeast, Center-west, Center-east, Southwest, Southeast).  Quad or block leaders agree to take responsibility for exploring a particular quad or block to ensure adequate coverage of the area.  As with general volunteers, you would report your findings to one of the coordinators for your county.  If you are interested in this, please contact the appropriate coordinators listed below.  For detailed information about the statewide project, as well as instructions on how to search for herps and document your findings, refer to the MARA Training Handbook.

Fig. 1. Map of Lower Shore counties and USGS quads (black boxes). For a higher resolution JPEG, click here.
If you live in Wicomico, place your mouse over one of the 8 quads and left click to bring up a high resolution
PDF of your quad.  If your quad is not available above, go to the USGS store website at http://store.usgs.gov.
Click "Map Locator" on the upper left and follow the instructions on the right.

An second way you can help in this effort is to email the county coordinators listed below any time you find a reptile or amphibian in Wicomico, Worcester, or Somerset counties.  In most cases, you need only see or hear the animal to report it to us (this includes road kill as well as live animals).  Please indicate the date, time, and precise location of your find.  To keep track of your findings, download and print a Data Sheet.  If you prefer to mail your findings, record them on your data sheet and mail them to the following address (please do so by the end of each calendar year):

Lance Biechele
14011 Cooley Rd.

Princess Anne, MD 21853


For some species, we require documentation of your finding in the form of a photo or a recording (for vocalizing frogs). To see which species require additional documentation, refer to the species list here or page 2 of the data sheet. If your species requires documentation, please include this in your email or mailed report, and if possible, fill out and submit the Verification Form. If you are not sure which species you have seen or heard, a photo or recording will be necessary regardless of the species.

One last way you can volunteer for this project is to participate in organized field expeditions.  Periodically throughout the year, the Lower Shore Herp Atlas coordinators will be organizing field trips to look for herps.  These are great opportunities to learn about reptiles and amphibians, meet fellow nature enthusiasts, and have fun while searching for these amazing animals outdoors.  If you would like to be included on the email list to receive announcements of trips, email Jim Rapp at dlitedirector@comcast.net. Indicate in your email that you wish to be added to the herp atlas email list.

County Coordinators

Lance Biechele - ltb0076@yahoo.com
Ron Gutberlet (Salisbury University, Dept. of Biological Sciences) - rlgutberlet@salisbury.edu

Jim Rapp (Delmarva Low Impact Tourism Experiences) - dlitedirector@comcast.net
Dave Wilson (Maryland Coastal Bays Program) - dwilson@mdcoastalbays.org
Roman Jesien (Maryland Coastal Bays Program) - rjesien@mdcoastalbays.org

Doug Ruby (University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Dept. of Natural Sciences) - deruby@umes.edu

Guides to Local Reptiles & Amphibians

If you would like to learn more about how to identify local reptiles and amphibians, there are a number of books and websites available to help.  For starters, a list of species potentially found on the Lower Shore, as well as pictures and audio files of calls can be found on our website by clicking here: Reptiles & Amphibians of the Lower Shore

For more information about these animals (and to hear additional frog calls), consult the Towson University Herpetology website.  If you'd like to see how well you've learned your frog calls, the USGS has a useful online Frog Quiz (select Maryland or Delaware for local species). 

If you are looking for assistance with identifying herps, try A Key to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Maryland available free online.  There are also two excellent field guides for species in our region: Amphibians and Reptiles of Delmarva (by White and White) and A Field Guide to Reptiles & Amphibians of Eastern & Central North America (by Conant and Collins). 

Happy herping!

Training Manual & Forms:

MARA Training Handbook
Data Sheet
Verification Form

Copyright 2010 | Lower Shore Herp Atlas
For questions about the website, contact Aaron Hogue (ashogue@salisbury.edu)