Map Update: New Objects and Habitat-types

Photo © Teresa Alexander-Arab

We are continuing our move to broaden the data we collect with our mapping tool; and, this week, we’ve added three new objects and a new habitat type polygon (fondly called “Habigons” by the Habitat Network Team). Each of these new map items comes with a new set of characteristics that collect ecologically-relevant data about the object.

Note: Want to learn about characteristics in Habitat Network? Read our article which gives you all the information you could ever want on this topic.


Photo © Habitat Network

New objects include: A Catio, a Cover Board, and a Hibernaculum. The new habigon is to capture special Stormwater Management areas such as rain gardens, bioswales, and bioretention cells. You can see each represented on our example map above.


Photo ©

Creating and conserving habitat for amphibians and reptiles is important. Scientists have been using cover boards for years to attract and monitor amphibians and reptiles for research. Amphibians and reptiles often rest, hunt, and maintain proper moisture and temperature levels by hiding in or under fallen logs or large rocks. But, if you lack large logs or rocks, cover boards are an effective, affordable, and easy way to encourage amphibians and reptiles into your yard. Cover boards can be added to almost any kind of site. Installing a cover board creates a unique microhabitat that may otherwise be missing.

Guidelines for installing cover boards for reptiles
Guidelines for installing cover boards for amphibians


Photo ©

Hibernaculum in its Latin roots means, “winter quarter”, with hibernus being Latin for winter. Thus, hibernacula are places of refuge that creatures seek-out in cold climates during winter when resources are limited and temperatures are frigid. If you are a homeowner in a colder climate, you can support wildlife in your yard by building and maintaining a hibernaculum. These small caves can be used by a variety of small animals seeking shelter to ride-out the winter months; but, may be especially important for snakes and lizards.


Photo ©

A portmanteau of cat + patio, a catio is an enclosed outdoor space that lets your cat enjoy the great outdoors, without the attendant risks. It is a great way to have your cake and eat it too when it comes to cat ownership. There are some amazing catios out there, and we want to see and hear about yours.


Photo ©

Built to catch excess storm water on your property–these areas come in every shape and size. That’s why we made this a new Habitat Type in Habitat Network, to let you capture that diversity. Rain gardens, bioswales, and bioretention cells filter pollutants (like excess nitrogen and phosphorous) from surface water before they have a chance to reach our aquifers. By reducing erosion, pollutants, and flooding, stormwater management will benefit aquatic wildlife in your watershed and maybe even become a home to a few new amphibians or dragonflies of your own.