Conservation in action - Helping herpetofauna coexist with agriculture


Conservation in action - Helping herpetofauna coexist with agriculture
Did you know?

Most of our agricultural activities take place in southern Québec where it is also possible to find most species of reptiles and amphibians. Although the greatest threat to these animals is the loss of habitat due to, among others, land use, agriculture is not necessarily only harmful. In some cases, opening land creates spaces favorable to revegetation, and those spaces are enjoyed by a multitude of reptile and amphibian species. These lands can even become shelters or preferred habitats for some at-risk or vulnerable species.

Among the species at risk affected by agricultural activities, we can mention the Wood Turtle, the Spiny Softshell Turtle, the Blanding’s Turtle, the Milk Snake, the Brown Snake, the Four-toed Salamander, and the Western Chorus Frog. OUF! These are not the only ones, but it already makes an impressive number!

So what can be done to help them coexist well with farmers?

The Ecomuseum Zoo’s conservation and applied research team launched this year an innovative project: provide farmers with a comprehensive guide, explaining how to maintain and improve the quality and diversity of habitats for reptiles and amphibians on their land. How is this innovative? Although many handbooks exist to explain how to respect the environment in general, none specifically target a particular class of animals. When we consider the fact that reptile and amphibian habitats in Québec suffer more and more disruptions and that many species are either threatened or vulnerable, we realize that such a handbook is no luxury!

What’s our objective?

We will take the time to properly research, to describe and to relate the applicability of farming practices that favor harmonious coexistence with the populations of reptiles and amphibians. Thus, it is essential to share knowledge and expertise of habitat conservation for these species and modern agricultural practices, in order to propose innovative ideas for a wide variety of farms and agricultural landscape elements (field crops, windscreen hedges, maple sugaring, ditches, pastures, etc).

When you consider that reptiles and amphibians play a vital role in the food chain and provide several beneficial ecological services to farmers such as the control of agricultural pests including invertebrate pests (slugs, bugs, etc) and small rodents, we can all agree that it is certainly possible to create a win-win situation for everyone.

What happens when we protect the habitat of a targeted species?

Other species benefit from the work at the same time! Birds, insects and mammals will benefit from the efforts made by farmers as suggested in the handbook. Despite the fact the project first aims to benefit our indigenous herpetofauna, it is the overall biodiversity of a given area that will be helped by this creative venture.

Thank you to our generous partners!
  • Fondation de la Faune du Québec