Conserve Wildlife Blog

SALAMANDERS ARRIVE AT ENHANCED VERNAL POOL COMPLEX IN CAPE MAY

February 2nd, 2012

by Karena DiLeo, Wildlife Biologist

Newly excavated vernal pools © Dave Golden

This fall ENSP, in partnership with CWF, completed a project to enhance a complex of vernal pools in Cape May County, creating habitat for state-endangered eastern tiger salamanders and other vernal pool breeding amphibians.  Since excavation of these twelve interconnecting pools was completed in October, and eastern tiger salamanders return to vernal pools to breed in early winter, we were unsure the salamanders would find our new pools in time to breed this year.  But on December 14th, as we were adding leaves and debris to provide attachment points for the salamanders to lay their eggs, we noticed eastern tiger salamander egg masses in our pools!  The salamanders not only found our pools but found the only three sticks in the pool to attach their eggs!

To supplement this population and increase genetic diversity, egg masses collected from other sites have been introduced into these pools.  Egg mass were also collected as part of a headstarting program at the Cape May County Zoo.  Amphibians are very vulnerable to predation during their egg and early larval stage so by headstarting these salamanders and raising them in a safe environment, like special tanks at the Zoo, we are able to release larger individuals into the pools and increase survivorship.

This enhancement is part of a larger project to create an eastern tiger salamander stronghold in New Jersey by linking sites where this state-listed species are found and creating new metapopulations that allow for migration between sites.  Increasing connectivity of vernal pool habitat also allows us to plan for climate change and possible sea level rise by assisting these species’ migration towards more upland habitats.

2 Responses to “SALAMANDERS ARRIVE AT ENHANCED VERNAL POOL COMPLEX IN CAPE MAY”

  1. David says:

    This sounds like an excellent project. Nice to hear that the cape may zoo is in partnership.

  2. Philip Ryser says:

    Great job to all that made this possible, keep up the good work and thank you to New Jersey Conserve Wildlife!

 
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