Conservation is a major component to the mission of Ruffner Mountain Nature Center. Our preserve protects over 550 species of plants, 450 species of animals, and is an important stop-over for migratory birds. We have several programs to protect both native flora and fauna.
As part of Ruffner Mountain’s Conservation Plan five biodiversity hotspots have been delineated and are representative of the different natural communities of the mountain. Invasive species are removed from these areas and each plot is managed to maintain the biodiversity of that natural community type.
ALABAMA ANTI-CHYTRID ALLIANCE (AACA)
Ruffner Mountain is part of The Alabama Anti-Chytrid Alliance (AACA) is a new grouping of institutions and professionals concerned about the spread of the chytrid fungus and other aquatic nuisance species (ANS) among southeastern wetlands and amphibian populations.
The chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) is an aquatic disease infecting and carried by many amphibians. It is implicated in mass population declines of amphibians around the world. More information is readily available in the scientific literature and online, but Amphibian Ark offers a succinct summary: http://www.amphibianark.org/chytrid.htm. SEPARC (Southeast Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation) offers a series of fact sheets and references on herp diseases of concern in the Southeast: http://www.separc.org/.
For more information about Chytrid at Ruffner Mountain see the Chytrid Fungus link under the Conservation menu on our website.
ALABAMA AMPHIBIAN NETWORK (AAN)
Ruffner Mountain Nature Center is partnering with the Alabama Amphibian Network (AAN) to increase amphibian awareness among the general public and to monitor amphibian populations. The AAN is providing cover boards (particle board shelters to mimic fallen logs) and PVC “tree frog shelters” to sample amphibians at our wetlands. Participating EE centers in the Alabama Amphibian Network use identical arrays of coverboards and PVC “treefrog shelters” to sample amphibians in their educational programs. These are tools used by practicing herpetologists to sample amphibians in the field, allowing students to gain hands-on experience with both amphibians and scientific research during educational programs at participating centers. EE partners report data on amphibians quarterly to the amphibian network and ALAPARC, where they are stored for future research on population trends and species distributions in Alabama. EE centers have been selected from all regions of Alabama to thoroughly sample its amphibian diversity and to provide outreach to all demographic groups. For more info visit http://alaparc.org/Outreach/AL_amphibian_network.html