Spotted salamanders on the move

Catherine and I have recently gotten involved in an ongoing effort to monitor vernal pools in our area, part of a broader region-wide citizen-science project.  (It’s wonderful what you can find the time for when you retire!)  As a consequence we have become aware of the challenges that amphibians (frogs and salamanders) face when breeding time comes in early spring.

A vernal pool above the sugarbush

One of these challenges is migration – the frogs and salamanders spend the bulk of their time spread through the forest leaf litter and trees.  But to breed they must find a body of water that meets their particular needs (certain “obligate” species will breed only in vernal pools because these ephemeral ponds do not have fish, which will eat the eggs and larvae.)

Catherine holds a wood-frog egg mass

And migration can happen all at once – on a rainy night when it’s just warm enough.  Last night, driving home from a family dinner…in the rain…at 45 degrees – we went slowly and carefully when we came to an area we knew was likely to be active.  And though it was a slow trip home, we managed to help two large spotted salamanders and three wood frogs make their way safely across Westminster Road.

A small thing, but we are proud of ourselves.


You should be proud. I bike in the forests in Illinois a lot and wonder if the turtles or other life want to get to the other side of the trail or are glancing back to see where they came from. I always throw the worms back in the grass though.

rich — Feb 06, 2015