Amphibian Foundation's Conservation Research Bridge Program works closely with state and federal agencies, as well as academic and zoological partners to conserve some of the most endangered species in the US.

Some populations have declined to the point where captive survival-assurance colonies are necessary to keep them from disappearing altogether. In these extreme cases, an immediate and multi-faceted approach is necessary, which often depends on a broad network of dedicated professionals and land managers willing to act for the benefit of amphibians, wildlife, and ecosystems in general.

The Conservation Research Bridge Program's expertise focuses on species-specific conservation components of larger conservation initiatives upon which our success, and the success of amphibian communities depend, such as large-scale habitat restoration, including naturally-cycled prescribed fire, proper habitat management, and occupancy monitoring.

Conservation Research Priorities

  • Frosted Flatwoods Salamander
  • Striped Newt
  • Gopher Frog
  • Blue-spotted Salamander
  • Pigeon Mountain Salamander
  • Green Salamander
  • Spotted Salamander
  • Marbled Salamander
  • Frosted Flatwoods Salamander

    Frosted Flatwoods Salamander

    AF was founded with the singular mission to stop the imminent extinction of the Frosted Flatwoods Salamander — a species that most people have never even heard of, and yet has dissappeared from South Carolina, is now restricted to a single wetland in Georgia, and remains in two small clusters of wetlands in Florida.

    Since 2016, AF has established captive survival-assurance colonies in outdoor mesocosms in Atlanta, several captive propagation colonies in an isolated, biosecure lab we built just for Frosties, and have successfully spawned the species for the first time ever. Subsequently, we have transfered baby Frosties to several partner organizations and have founded and lead the Frosted Flatwoods Salamander Conservation Breeding Working Group.

    Read more

  • Striped Newt

    Striped Newt

    AF is a proud member of the Striped Newt Repatriation Project, a coalition of zoos and conservation orgs working together to save this imperiled little newt, which only occupies a small number of wetlands in Georgia and Florida.

    Each year, the project partners spawn 100's of baby Striped Newts, which are experiementally released into managed habitat, under the guidance of the
     Coastal Plains Institute, and the permission of Florida Fish & Wildlife and Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

  • Gopher Frog

    Gopher Frog

    Gopher Frog is Georgia's rarest frog, and is restricted to just a handful on wetlands in the state. Staff in AF's Conservation Research Bridge Program have been working to conserve this slippery anuran through Assisted-Metamorphosis — head-starting — since 2009, and have experiementally released, with partners, thousands of Gopher Froglets into protected habitat.

    We work with many partners on an interstate project in the Southeast. For the past several years, we have worked closely with US Fish & Wildlife Service, University of Georgia, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and Alabama Department of Conservation of Natural Resources to double the number of known Gopher Frog populations in the state of Alabama — from one to two, by releasing hundreds of young Gopher Frogs each year at a wetland, constructed by AL DCNR, especially for Gopher Frogs.

  • Blue-spotted Salamander

    Blue-spotted Salamander

    The Blue-spotted Salamander is a remarkably beautiful and enigmatic salamander with a secret. Throughout their range, a huge percentage of what appears to be Blue-spotted Salamanders are, in actuality, a ... deep breath ... unisexual all-female hybrid kletptogen - or if you prefer, a sperm stealing genetic parasite. The hybrids form primarily with Jefferson's Salamanders, but can include the DNA of any member of the family Ambystomatidae that is sympatric, or shares the range, with Blue-spots. True genetic Blue-spotted Salamanders can be exceedingly rare.

    One of the places where true Blue-spotted Salamanders exist is the Eastern tip of Long Island, NY. AF partners with the South Fork Museum of Natural History on Long Island on a reproductive biology study, where we are hoping to discover the proper cues to successfully breed them in the lab, and spawn healthy offspring which can serve as candidates for experimental release into the wild.

  • Pigeon Mountain Salamander

    Pigeon Mountain Salamander

    The Pigeon Mountain Salamander has an extremely small range, occupying one side of one spur of one mountain in Georgia, and nowhere else on earth. The species is considered stable throughout its limited range, and AF is grateful forr the opportunity to be one of the salamander's stewards, as we conduct twice monthly surveys (one diurnal/one nocturnal) where we are collecting occupancy data at key points in the range, as well as disease surveillance — testing for emergent infectious diseases like chytrid and ranavirus. Invasive diseases have been detected in Atlanta, and could be disastrous to wild populations of Pigeon Mountain Salamanders if it reach their region.

  • Green Salamander

    Green Salamander

    The Green Salamander is a mysterious species in Georgia. It's an arboreal salamander with great camoflague and it almost effortlessly evades detection. The species is considered stable throughout its limited range, and AF is grateful forr the opportunity to be one of the salamander's stewards, as we conduct twice monthly surveys (one diurnal/one nocturnal) where we are collecting occupancy data at key points in the range, as well as disease surveillance — testing for emergent infectious diseases like chytrid and ranavirus. 

  • Spotted Salamander

    Spotted Salamander

    There's a huge purple-black salamander, with bright yellow and (sometimes) orange spots ... that is also super mysterious and remains underground for 50+ weeks a year — the Spotted Salamander. While Spotted Salamanders are generally considered 'stable' throughout their range, in a city like Atlanta, Spotted Salamander populations have declined.

    Through extensive surveys at 110 sites inside of Atlanta's I-285 perimeter, we have only detected a handful of sites occupied by Spotted Salamanders. Most of their forested habitats with ephemeral wetlands have disappeared, and many sites are no longer suitable to support the species becuase of development, invasive plants, pollution, and hydrological changes.

    Working with land managers at sites like Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve and the Atlanta History Center, we have been able to successfully reintroduce Spotted Salamanders to these restored habitats in the city. The main reason for the project's success is because these reintroductions were preceeded by years of restoration work by our dedicated partners. At each site, within 3 years, we were able to detect returning adult salamanders, coming back to the pond where they were released — to breed!

  • Marbled Salamander

    Marbled Salamander

    There's a huge black salamander, with bright white or silvery marbling on its back ... that is also super mysterious and remains underground for 50+ weeks a year — the Marbled Salamander. While Marbled Salamanders are generally considered 'stable' throughout their range, in a city like Atlanta, Marbled Salamander populations have almost disappeared.

    Through extensive surveys at 110 sites inside of Atlanta's I-285 perimeter, we have only detected 2 sites occupied by Marbled Salamanders. Most of their forested habitats with ephemeral wetlands have disappeared, and many sites are no longer suitable to support the species becuase of development, invasive plants, pollution, and hydrological changes. Furthermore, Marbled Salamanders breed in the fall (around Halloween) and lay their eggs terrestrially in the upper edges of dry ephemeral wetlands. The eggs develop and wait for seasonal rain to fill their pond and inundate the eggs. That's quite a risky strategy!

    Working with land managers at sites like 
    Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve and the Atlanta History Center, we have been working to successfully reintroduce Marbled Salamanders to these restored habitats in the city. Marbled Salamanders often occupy the same ephemeral wetlands and habitats of Spotted Salamanders, and recently we have detected adult Marbled Salamanders at the release sites. Hopefully, within the next few years we'll find Marbled Salamander nests, being guarded by mom — that would be the next sign that our project is successful.


The Conservation Research Bridge Program team searching an ephemeral wetland for evidence of the presence of Gopher Frogs.

Conservation Research Bridge Program — FAQs

  • What do I get from attending the Bridge Program at the Amphibian Foundation?

    There are many benefits to joining us as a Research Assistant or Research Scholar in the Bridge Program for Conservation Research. Benefits such as:

    • A broadened set of skills within the fields of conservation biology, experimental biology, organismal biology, all focusing on a variety of related disciplines.
    • Field and laboratory experience
    • Certification as a Master Herpetologist
    • Certification in Handling & Management in Venomous Reptiles
    • Mentored Research Experience
    • Cultivation of a network of research, academic, and agency professionals
    • Contribution to the conservation of state and federally listed endangered species
    • Career support in the form of recommendations, resume and CV building
    • Article writing and publications (2+ semesters)
    • Mentored Research design and implementation (2+ semesters)
    • Professional & Scientific presentations at conferences (Winter semester)
  • Who can enroll in the Conservation Research Bridge Program?

    All Bridge Program students must:

    • Be at least 18 years old at the time the program starts.
    • Follow written English and verbal instructions from program staff.
    • Follow the AF code of conduct regarding in-person and online activities.
    • Be able to move about independently or with a companion assistant in a range of outdoor wilderness habitats including but not limited to aquatic wetlands, forests, and urban parks.
    • Communicate clearly and efficiently with staff and peers about safety concerns or problems.
    • Make scheduled payments on time.
    • Have access to a home computer or laptop and a working cell phone.
    • Follow biosecurity and COVID protocols at all times.
  • Does it matter in which semester I enroll?

    Students can expect a similar training experience, regardless of which semester they are enrolled in. That said, certain opportunities are heightened during key activity periods of the year. For example, During Winter semesters (Dec-April), there is an increase in focus on Flatwoods Salamander monitoring, and during the Summer semesters (May-Sept), there is heightened focus on rearing Gopher Frog tadpoles for experimental release into the wild, and urban turtle community monitoring on our nature preserve.

    Here is a list of studies which occur year-round:

    Lab Husbandry + Propagation
    Urban Ecology
    Science Communication
    Course Enrollment
    Venomous Training & Certification
    Field Studies
    Amphibian Disease Studies
    Microbiome + Invasive Species Studies
    Biomechanics Studies
    Behavioral Studies

  • Can you help me find housing?

    Absolutely! Many of you are coming from outside the greater Atlanta area, and will need to at least temporarily relocated to participate in the Bridge Program. We are happy to help find suitable housing, and potentially suggest AF staff, interns, and volunteers looking for roomates.

  • When can I start?

    Preferably, you can start at the beginning of any of the three semesters (Spring, Summer, and Fall). We are happy to make arrangements with you if that is not possible.

  • What does tuition include?

    Tuition costs include on-campus instruction, courses + certifications, field equipment (boots, waders, etc ...), mentoring and access to the AF labs, libraries, resources, and connections

  • What does tuition not include?

    Housing, food, transport, and laptop (recommended), though there is a dedicated Apple computer with loaded software, in the Bridge.

  • Are scholarships, grants, and awards available?

    The Conservation Research Bridge Program is a tuition supported program, though we are actively seeking out grants and awards to support scholarships for students. There are several scholarships currently available, which can be viewed here. Once you apply to the program, we will work with you to apply all applicable and available scholarships.

  • Does the Bridge Program accept international students?

    Yes! While we are happy to assist with supporting documents and the visa application in general, the application itself is the responsibility of the applicant.

An introduction to the founding of the Conservation Research Bridge Program

Available Scholarships and Grant Awards

AF aggressively applies for grants and awards to support tuition relief for our prospective Research Assistants.

Available Scholarships are Listed Here.