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March 18, 2024

Last week, Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) awarded USGS Research Zoologist Dr. Erin Muths the 2024 RMNP Stewardship Award. This award recognizes exceptional individuals and organizations that have contributed significant time and knowledge to National Park stewardship. 

Erin Muths holds up an ARMI sign at the top of Mt Edna
Erin Muths holds up a USGS Amphibian Research Monitoring and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI) sign at the top of Mt Edna, Rocky Mountain National Park (2014).


The Stewardship Award recognizes Muths' substantial contributions to RMNP amphibian research and conservation during her nearly 30 years of work in the park. The award highlighted Muths' organization and implementation of long-term amphibian monitoring and research projects in the park, contribution to collaborative partnerships among agencies and the public, assistance with amphibian management plans and reintroductions, and mentorship of the next generation of park scientists and stewards.

Muths was hired by USGS in 1995, soon after the identification of amphibian population declines in the U.S. and worldwide. Declines were occurring even in pristine locations, like National Parks, without explanation. As a scientist within the newly formed USGS’ Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI), Muths focused on declines occurring in RMNP and the west and published one of the first papers linking amphibian population declines in North America to the recently identified amphibian chytrid fungus. 


a group of researchers in a pond
Erin Muths (red hat) and collaborators releasing boreal toad tadpoles into the west side of RMNP (2010). Photo by RMNP. Learn more about this project: Native Boreal Toads Released Into Rocky Mountain National Park - ARMI (

Since then, she has worked in and outside of the park to study amphibian demographics, ecology, and conservation, including identifying and investigating potential causes of amphibian decline like disease, climate change, and contaminants. Muths notes that “my job is to provide relevant science to RMNP, and other partners, to use in making management decisions that further conservation.” And that, “I am honored to receive this award, RMNP has, without exception, been interested in, and supportive of our research.” Muths was recently featured in a USGS article celebrating the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (Charismatic Wildlife and the Charismatic Women who Study Them | U.S. Geological Survey (

The RMNP Stewardship Award is no stranger to USGS, Dr. Jill Baron received the award in 2011 for her incredible portfolio of work on nitrogen deposition and related science in the Loch Vale watershed in RMNP.

four people stand in front of a capitol building
ARMI scientists (Mike Adams, Erin Muths, Evan Grant and Kelly Smalling) visiting congress during Amphibian Week in 2023.




Amphibians continue to be at risk. The USGS’ Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI) consists of multiple scientists, including Muths, from ecosystems, water and contaminants. ARMI works with partners at local and national scales to provide information relevant to partner needs and actionable for amphibian conservation. This spring, USGS ARMI will be participating, with other federal agencies, in Amphibian Week (May 5-11). This event is aimed at increasing awareness about amphibians, and is national in scope. USGS ARMI will be participating in multiple events in Washington DC.

Read more about ARMI and Amphibian Week 2024

ARMI Homepage

ARMI Homepage

Amphibian Week 2024

Amphibian Week 2024

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