Increasing Amphibian Cover Boards at White Memorial

Over the past five days two more amphibian cover board grids have been added to White Memorial’s property. This will make a total of ten cover board grids located around the property. We plan on adding even more grids over the next couple of weeks to locations around the Catlin Woods and the Cranberry Swamp area. By adding more cover boards we can expect our amphibian encounter rate to increase, as well as our chances of encountering Connecticut’s endangered Blue-spotted x Jefferson hybrid Salamander.

Red Eft life stage of a Red-spotted Newt in Catlin Woods

We experimented with one of the newly assembled cover board sites by removing leaf litter underneath every other cover board, exposing the bare, damp soil. When a piece of wood or any heavy object is left on the forest ground, the leaf litter that it shields eventually breaks up and decomposes, therefore becoming part of the soil. We wondered whether by accelerating this process, so that only soil meets the cover board, the salamanders would be more likely detected because there isn't any leaf debris that can cover them. This observational experiment will help us see if there is a noticeable pattern and tell us if we should develop an experiment with more replicates. We will check the plot every couple of weeks noting if salamanders were more often discovered under removed leaf debris cover boards. We need to be especially thorough when checking the uncleared cover boards because salamanders are more difficult to spot when there are layers of leaves that they can hide in. By not counting all salamanders present, this may result in a false correlation in our experiment.

James Fischer marking the cleared leaf debris cover boards.

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