Book SectionsTable of Contents
The Problem Puddle Power Frog-Friendly Backyard Why are we concerned about amphibians?
Wetlands - function/type Wetland issues
How to help amphibians
Community Green Plans
Where to build your pond
Locate your pond where it can receive meltwater. Look for low ground that naturally collects water and where pools form in the spring. Water can be directed to this area or retained behind a low dam or berm. If your pond is located near a building, redirect downspout water to replenish the pond each time it rains. If water is lost quickly to percolation, a layer of clay will prevent water from soaking into the ground. Deepen your pool if water evaporates too quickly. You may talk to local contractors or naturalists who can best advise you on your local conditions.
Locate your pond where amphibians can enter and exit without risking death. Urban populations of toads may have high level of predation due to large raccoon populations or die as road kills during migrations to and away from garden ponds. There have been many documented incidences of toads, unable to climb concrete road curbs, suffering a high death rate due to vehicles or, in one case, being swept up into a road sweeper each morning of the week. However, toads produce over 5,000 eggs and we can expect even in pristine areas that only 50 toadlets will survive their first year (1% of the egg mass).
Before constructing your pond you must take into consideration lot lines, locations of any overhead or under ground lines, and local bylaws requiring fencing or permits. Keep your pond away from trees.
Your pond should be located away from manure, and chemical contamination sources such as runoff areas from composts, pastures, septic tanks and treated fields and lawns. Ammonia, released by manure and many other fertilizers during wet periods, has been found to affect tadpoles of amphibians. Runoff, in this case, should not be directed to the pond. After a period of drought, nitrate and other salts can be found at high concentrations in the front zones of runoff. Subsequent rainfall then creates a "toxic wave" retarding and preventing frog tadpoles from developing. The high levels of nutrients found in the runoff may also cause algae blooms. A vegetation buffer strip around the entire pond will reduce erosion and help filter sediment, fertilizer, pesticide and other contaminants before they enter the pond.
The location of your pond will determine the kinds of toads and frogs that can breed there. The closer your pond is to existing populations, the more likely that some will take up residence and actually breed in the new pond. Rivers, creeks and irrigation ditches, especially with ponds and vegetation along the banks and with occasional adjacent ponds, are ideal breed ing grounds and dispersal routes for frogs and toads. You must understand that amphibians are creatures of habit and will not at first want to move from their old breeding pond to the new one. However, after one or two frogs or toads breed in the new pond, their offspring will return year after year to breed in the habitat that you have created. Remember that your pond will provide personal enjoyment and contribute to the diversity of your community. As more and more homeowners develop wetlands or frog friendly backyards, the more likely that wetland species will take up residence in your backyard.
In many cases, frogs, toads and salamanders have lost their habitat and have no place to live. No matter how good your pond is, there may be no nearby populations to replenish your new pond. If your community or backyard can sustain toads, and with prior approval from your local Ministry of Natural Resources, Conservation Authority office, naturalists and wildlife experts , you may move toad or green frog tadpoles from a nearby pond that is within three kilometers of your location. It is likely that these tadpoles will remain part of the local population in your area (one kilometer is the average migration range for the common toad!). If you wish to translocate tadpoles, contact the Amphibian Interest Group at Metro Toronto Zoo for important information. Do not purchase frogs, toads, salamanders or newts. You do not want to put new tadpoles in your pond if it is not suitable for that species, and we do not want to deplete tadpoles from another source population that is itself in trouble.
All ponds need time to develop into good amphibian habitat. The quality of habitat is improved when plants and algae are well established, when sediments that cloud the water have settled to the bottom and stay there even after heavy rain, and when a nice layer of detritus (decomposed plant and animal matter) settles on the bottom of the pond. This is a source of nutrients for plants, tadpoles, and other aquatic organisms.
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