Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘amphibian’

Raising Awareness for Amphibians

Thursday, May 16th, 2024

by Christine Healy, Wildlife Biologist

Supporters who follow Conserve Wildlife Foundation across our social media platforms may have noticed that our channels became a bit less feather-y and more froggy in early May. This “takeover” was not just an acknowledgment of frogs and salamanders resuming their activities after winter brumation; however, you can expect the greatest diversity in the evening chorus this month with all native species besides mid-Atlantic coast leopard and wood frogs regularly calling. Rather, our shift in theme was in support of two international campaigns, Salamander Saturday and Amphibian Week, which aim to raise awareness for the most globally threatened class of vertebrates. 

Infographic created for CWF’s Salamander Saturday Celebration

The Foundation for the Conservation of Salamanders (FCSal) began the Salamander Saturday initiative in 2015 and has annually encouraged other organizations around the world to help “Keep the World Slimy” through outreach events. This year, several zoos, nature centers, parks, museums, and even a brewery joined in the festivities by offering interactive exhibits, walks, crafts, and more for their patrons on May 4th. In addition to live activities, FCSal urges the use of #SalamanderSaturday on Facebook and Instagram to disseminate information far and wide. 

Nothing makes our Herp Team (L-R: Staff Intern Connor Zrinko, Wildlife Biologist Christine Healy, Senior Intern Nikki Griffiths) happier than the quonk of our gold medalist in the Gymnastics division, the Pine Barrens tree frog! 

While CWF’s work focuses on large-bodied mole salamanders, New Jerseyans are lucky enough to share the landscape with 16 species ranging from the tiny four-toed salamander (~2”) to the Eastern tiger salamander (~8”).  Of these, nine are currently being monitored as endangered, threatened, species of concern, or species of interest, largely due to habitat loss and fragmentation. While you may not see them often, salamanders do a lot for our planet. They play an important role in the food chain as both predator and prey, contribute to carbon sequestration, aerate the soil, and more. Salamanders are also fascinating creatures. Though they do not coexist peacefully within flames as myths and legends suggest, they do share something in common with embers in that they “glow”. Scientists have not cracked the code on why but have found that many species bio fluoresce under different wavelengths of light. The bright colors and patterns frequently featured on their skin can be indicative of toxins and they are experts in regeneration, which could hold clues for medical advancement. Check out the infographic we created for this year’s celebration. 

CWF’s Amphibi-Olympics opened with the recitation of our amphibian anthem by a Fowler’s Toad (we knew that scream would capture your attention) and the torch lighting by a legendary fire salamander. 

Amphibian Week was started by the Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC) in 2020 and spans the first full week of May each year (the 5th– 11th in 2024). Activities occur in virtual and live capacities but are inspired by a unique theme that is selected in advance by PARC. In recognition of the upcoming summer Olympics in Paris, this year’s concept was Extreme Athletes: Amphibian Edition. Daily prompts included an opening ceremony, a warm-up day, aquatic, gymnastic, and track & field “events”, awards, and a closing ceremony. 

The medalists from the Track & Field event take to the podium, with the spotted salamander taking bronze, the wood frog securing silver, and the spring peeper getting gold. 

CWF interns, Connor and Nikki, had fun getting creative with the theme and sharing all the knowledge and admiration that they have for frogs and salamanders with our followers on Facebook and Instagram during our Amphibi-Olympics. After an evaluation of the adaptations our native amphibians have evolved to excel at life in water, on land, and in the trees, the bullfrog, Pine Barrens tree frog, and spring peeper took home the gold in the aforementioned “sports”. To add to the fun (and to accurately represent our life in the field.

Exploring New Jersey’s Amphibian Migrations

Wednesday, March 27th, 2024

by Leah Wells, Wildlife Biologist

Wood Frogs

 On rainy spring evenings, have you ever encountered large numbers of salamanders and frogs crossing the road? Do you ever wonder where they came from and where they are going? New Jersey’s forests are home to a group of amphibians that breed in small, temporary wetlands called vernal pools. Within northern New Jersey, this group includes wood frogs, spotted salamanders, and Jefferson salamanders. 

These salamanders are elusive, often concealed under foliage, moss, or in burrows created by small creatures.  They belong to the Ambystomatidae family, earning the nickname “mole salamander” due to their subterranean tendencies. Feeding primarily at night on various invertebrates like earthworms and insects, they, along with wood frogs, play crucial roles in forest ecosystems as vital links in the food chain and are indicators of ecosystem health. Emerging from winter hibernation during rainy nights in late winter and early spring, they embark on journeys to vernal pools for mating and egg-laying, marking the onset of the amphibian migration. 

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Crossed One Off the Bucket List

Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

by Christine Healy, Wildlife Biologist

Every January, once the confetti has settled from the new year’s celebration, I start thinking a lot about amphibians and preparing for their springtime migration. That behavior, however, is not collectively adopted by all of our local frogs and salamanders. Different species have found different ways to adapt to the challenges of a complex lifecycle that relies on environmental factors to inform physiological changes. Wood frogs, as well as spotted and Jefferson salamanders, have conformed to an early spring breeding strategy. Once the ground thaws and snow melt has raised the water level in vernal pools, they are on the move. Since amphibians in temperate climates hibernate (or more correctly, brumate – the “cold-blooded” equivalent), you might think that their appearance in February and March means that they lead the pack. While this seems a reasonable assumption, it’s actually incorrect.

A close up of an adult Eastern tiger salamander
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Salamanders already on the move

Sunday, February 18th, 2018

by David Wheeler

Photo by David Moskowitz

The salamanders and frogs in East Brunswick got an early start to their migration season by crossing this week on February 15. David Moskowitz found spotted salamanders, wood frogs, dozens of spring peepers, and one wood frog crossing the temporarily closed section of Beekman Road in the early evening rain.

“This is the earliest they’ve ever moved – by about a week – in the 12 years I’ve been closing the road,” said Moskowitz.

East Brunswick has closed the road for a few nights each late winter/early spring when conditions are just right. While all amphibian species are vulnerable, spotted salamanders are a species of special concern in New Jersey.

 

Photo by David Moskowitz

Conserve Wildlife Foundation partners with certain municipalities and the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program on salamander crossings in northern New Jersey. This is a key initiative among CWF’s amphibian projects.

The East Brunswick crossing offers the best opportunity for the public to take part and see these salamanders and frogs up close. Check their website for the next expected crossing and share the road with a salamander!

CWF’s Online Field Guide Expands

Monday, January 25th, 2016
23 WILDLIFE SPECIES ADDED TO CWF’S ONLINE FIELD GUIDE

By Michael Davenport, GIS Program Manager

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ’s online field guide, a one-of-a-kind free reference focused on New Jersey’s wildlife, has recently expanded to include 23 additional species. As a result of recent status reviews by the state’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program for reptiles, amphibians, and butterflies, additional species within the state will be receiving an imperiled status of either Endangered, Threatened, or Special Concern. Six reptile species are being added as well as four amphibians and thirteen butterfly species.

Baltimore_Checkerspot_1

The Baltimore checkerspot, a species recently added to CWF’s on-line field guide. Photo courtesy of Eric C. Reuter.

Later this week, two additional blog entries will be posted regarding the status review process and the new listings. The posts will be: “Species Status Review process” (WEDNESDAY); and “How you can help fill-in data gaps” (FRIDAY).

The list of “new” species is below and each species name links to its field guide entry on our website:

REPTILES

AMPHIBIANS

BUTTERFLIES