Amphibian Cover Board Monthly Check - June 2012

On Tuesday, June 19th James Fischer and I went out to the Solnit Parcel to do the monthly check of the experimental amphibian cover board grid. We were able to encounter 93 salamanders; 45 under the softwood boards and 48 under the hardwood boards. The majority were Red-back salamanders, although we did see 2 Four-toed salamanders, 17 Red Eft, and one wood frog. We noticed that most of the salamanders that we found were located in areas of dense fern stands. These ferns provide lush habitat for amphibians by keeping moisture and leaf mold intact.

Four-toed Salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum)

We were lucky enough to find a female lead phase Red-backed salamander guarding her eggs underneath a hardwood board. This is not a common spectacle to come across because Red-backed salamanders only mate every other year. After laying her eggs the female will coil her body around them and protect the eggs for two months until they hatch. The eggs are laid in a cluster, so they are somewhat difficult to count, but I estimated there to be 30 eggs in the cluster. Once the eggs hatch the baby salamanders look like miniature adults and after two years will reach reproductive maturity.

Red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus) with eggs.

No comments: