Amphibian Cover Board Monthly Check - July 2012

Red-backed Salamander with six newly hatched salamanders.
Photo by Erin Caruso 

Today’s monthly check of the amphibian cover board experiment grid revealed forty-six individual salamanders. The amphibians that Nicole Morin and I came across were mostly Red-backed Salamanders, although we did see five Red Eft, one Northern Two-lined Salamander, and one Wood Frog. Twenty-two Red-backed Salamanders were under the softwood cover boards and eighteen were discovered under the hardwood. Two of Red-backed Salamanders under the softwood were found coiled around their young. This was an exciting event to come across because this strengthens our theory that the cover boards provide a favorable habitat for salamander reproduction. In addition, their population growth signifies a healthy forest environment. When it comes to reproduction, Red-backed Salamanders are unique because they lay their eggs on land, while most other amphibians and salamanders such as the Blue-spotted Salamander attach their eggs to underwater twigs or vegetation. These underwater eggs hatch and go through an aquatic larva stage. In contrast, the Red-backed Salamander young go through the larva stage while still in the egg, and when they hatch, look like miniature adults. Since the month of August is usually when most salamanders emerge from their eggs, it will be interesting to return to the cover board experiment grid at the end of next month and see if we can find a higher abundance of baby salamanders.

Lead phase Red-backed Salamander with egg cluster.
Photo by Erin Caruso


Marlow said...

Fabulous pics and very informative post. Thanks!

Erin Caruso said...

Thanks Marlow, I'm glad you enjoyed it!