Posts Tagged ‘Reptiles – Amphibians’

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Commentary: We Should Protect Vulnerable Vernal Pools

This Spotted Salamander just crossed Ski Tow Road, Tupper Lake, en route to a vernal poolWander into a wood with your ears open in early spring  and you are likely to quizzically turn your head to try and locate an indistinct sound, far off but not too far off, remarkable but subtle, an undertone of  – castanets? That’s how we described the sound 29 years ago when as new homeowners we explored our forest and discovered the breeding quacks of the wood frog.

I learned by wandering that wood frogs bred in the hundreds, not just in that one forest pond (a vernal pool), but in several others hundreds of yards apart – but not in every pool, just in some. Twenty-nine years later, they continue to breed just in those same pools between March 15 (the earliest date I’ve recorded their sounds) and April 15 (the latest), depending on temperature. » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Adirondack Reptiles: The Wood Turtle

Before winter sets in, all reptiles and amphibians must retreat to a location that provides shelter against the temperatures that would be lethal to their cold-blooded system. While some find refuge underground, others rely on the protection afforded by water and seek out a place on the bottom of an aquatic setting in which ice is unlikely to develop, even during periods of intense cold.

All turtles that live in the Adirondacks belong to this second group, including the wood turtle, a seldom encountered species that exists in limited numbers in scattered locations, especially in the eastern half of the Park.
» Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Outside Story: What’s With Blue Animals?

Animals display a dazzling variety of colors, particularly in the tropics. But even here in northern New England where wildlife diversity is comparatively limited, we enjoy a rich palette of colors and patterns. The majority of colors are produced by pigments–particles of color chemicals found within specialized cells. These include melanins, which are found in nearly all organisms and produce the earthy tones common to many animals (including humans), and carotenoids, which produce colors primarily in the red to yellow end of the spectrum (think northern cardinal and American goldfinch).

What’s surprising, however, is that pigments that produce blue coloration are all but unknown in the animal kingdom, even though we have plenty of blue-colored animals, particularly among birds, butterflies, and fish. So if it’s not pigments, what makes an animal blue? » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Adirondack Wildlife: Skunk on the Prowl

The rainy weather that has persisted over the past month has returned the water in our rivers, lakes, and ponds to levels typical for this time of year, rejuvenated the trees and shrubs in our forests and the grass and weeds in our lawns.

It has also restored the moist soil environment necessary for the continued activity of numerous invertebrates, terrestrial amphibians, and other creatures that reside on the ground and in the dirt. Despite several frosts and the record cold this past Friday night that temporarily froze the surface of the soil, many of the organisms that exist in the ground remain active well into the autumn.
» Continue Reading.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Adirondack Amphibians: Spring Peepers in Autumn

On calm, mild evenings in autumn, such as those that occurred last Wednesday and Thursday, a familiar sound may be heard coming from a stand of trees close to an alder thicket or a woodland swamp. A crisp, one-note “peep” infrequently breaks the silence in these wooded settings at night and during the day when the air is unseasonably warm and moist.

This distinct call can perplex anyone who has visited a wetland in spring. Can it possibly be a spring peeper, known for producing the seasonal chorus of natural music after the soil thaws in April? Following a summer of silence, the male spring peeper redevelops an urge to announce its presence, this time in the area in which it may have spent the past several months.
» Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cabin Life: My Garden Is A Joke

My garden is a joke.  I tried, but the spot is just not very good.  Too little light and mediocre soil make a great combination for disappointment.  The peas are doing alright, and the lettuce is coming along, but the basil and carrots are struggling.  Even my tomatoes are pathetic.

It’s a small raised bed made with flat stones.  I didn’t do any real prep to the spot though.  There was a rotten tree trunk in the middle and I pulled that out and added a little top soil, but not nearly enough.  I weeded and turned the soil.  I should have added more soil and some composted manure to help.  What the garden really needs is to have a few trees cut down. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Late Spring and the Gray Tree Frog

Spring is a season when the greatest abundance of natural sounds echo across the landscape. During the day, birds are primarily responsible for the variety of musical calls; however as darkness approaches, especially when the weather is mild, the voices of amphibians produce our most captivating sounds.

Around the alder-laden shores of ponds, marshes and rivers, choruses of tiny spring peepers regularly drown out the songs sung by all other creatures. During the latter part of May, after dusk, toads can be seen heading to similar shallow wooded waterways to engage in their nocturnal serenade. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Adirondack Amphibians: The Spotted Salamander

The recent series of rain events that has occurred over the past several weeks has elevated the level of streams and rivers, reduced the threat of wildfires, and brought trail conditions back to a more typical spring muddy state.

This wet period has also helped greatly in rejuvenating vernal pools that are critical breeding areas and nurseries for many forest dwelling amphibians and has created the damp soil conditions essential to these wet-skinned animals. Among these moisture loving vertebrates that commonly occurs in stands of mature forests throughout the Adirondacks is a sizeable dark colored creature known as the spotted salamander. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tom Kalinowski Worries About Low Snowpack

The mild temperatures and limited snowfall that the Adirondacks have experienced this winter season have failed to establish the usual snowpack that blankets the region by this time of year. While a substantial covering of snow provides numerous recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, it also serves as an essential fresh water reserve to supply the many brooks, streams and rivers across the Park with water when spring arrives during March and April.

With the first few thaws of late winter and early spring, much of the water produced from melting snow flows over the surface of the still frozen ground. This water quickly moves down hillsides and creates small, seasonal water courses on the forest floor. As these tiny tributaries merge and empty into larger, more permanent streams, the level of the water increases, along with the strength of the current. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Red-Backed Salamanders Go Underground

There are several types of migration that occur in nature. While this term generally brings to mind the long distance flight of birds and a few species of bats, it can also refer to the seasonal movements of numerous creatures that abandon their summer domains on the surface for an environment below the frost line.

As cold air becomes more intense, and nightly temperatures more regularly drop into the teens causing water in the uppermost layer of soil to freeze, most cold-blooded organisms that reside there, particularly the red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus) must start to migrate down in order to prevent freezing to death. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Endangered Bog Turtle Lecture Friday

A researcher who has studied the endangered bog turtle will discuss ways to save their habitat in an upcoming lecture at Paul Smith’s College.

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the bog turtle is the state’s smallest. It reaches a maximum length of 4.5 inches. While considered threatened nationwide, they are endangered in New York; development in the southeastern part of the state, the species’ primary habitat here, has hindered the turtle from moving into new areas as existing habitat is lost.

Dr. Kevin Shoemaker will lead off this fall’s Fisheries & Wildlife Science Seminar Series on Friday, Sept. 23, with “Scaling Up Bog Turtle Conservation in New York.”

Shoemaker, a postdoctoral associate at Stony Brook University, studies how wildlife populations are affected by habitat alteration. He hopes to help humans co-exist with wildlife by making those connections understandable.

Two other lectures are scheduled this semester: Dr. Dennis Murray of Trent University in Ontario will discuss “New World Wolves: Confusion, Controversy and Conservation” on Friday, Oct. 14, and Tim McKay of Colgate University will deliver a lecture called “Ecology of North America’s Smallest Mammals: The Shrews” on Friday, Nov. 4.

All lectures will be held at 10:10 a.m. in the Pine Room of the Joan Weill Student Center.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Duck Hole Dam Breech: What Comes Next?

The massive breach in the dam at Duck Hole, which has led to the demise of the picturesque body of water in the western High Peak wilderness, is initially tragic information to anyone that has spent time at this majestic location. Yet, the healing forces of nature are already at work transforming the muddy plain that now covers a good portion of the site into a meadow in a process known as succession.

Open settings are at a premium in the mature woodlands of the Adirondacks, and any site that contains both rich soil and a healthy amount of moisture will never last more than a single growing season before it is overtaken by vegetation. As a general rule, the herbaceous plants, such as grasses, sedges, weeds, wildflowers, ferns and rushes are the first to colonize such a favorable location. Seeds from these plants are able to travel many miles by a variety of methods which allows them to quickly take advantage of any spot that becomes favorable for growth. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Slugs: Slimy, Slow, and Esurient

The arrival of cooler nights with widespread valley fog and heavy dew creates favorable conditions for many creatures that require excessive dampness. Among those forms of life that function best in moisture laden surroundings are the slugs, a collection of invertebrates known for their slimy, unappealing appearance, incredibly slow rate of travel, and ability to wreak havoc in gardens just as produce is getting ready to harvest.

Slugs, along with the snails, are gastropod mollusks. As a general rule, slugs lack the rounded or spiral-shaped exterior shell that typifies snails. There are many different categories of slugs, and attempting to determine the exact identity of an individual can be as challenging as trying to figure out what species of mosquito has just landed on your arm. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Watching Wildlife in the Adirondacks

What follows is a guest essay from the Adirondack Forest Preserve Education Partnership (AFPEP).

Bald eagles are the largest bird species that nest in the Adirondacks but they are just one of 220 species of birds that reside in the Adirondacks or pass through during fall and spring migration. 53 species of mammals and 35 species of reptiles and amphibians also make the Adirondacks their home.

Due to the vast size, unique habitats and geographic location of the Adirondacks many species of wildlife are found nowhere else in New York or are in much greater abundance here. Birds such as the Common Loon, Spruce Grouse, the Black-backed Woodpecker and the Palm Warbler; Mammals such as Moose, Otter, Black Bear and American Marten; and Reptile & Amphibians such as Timber Rattlesnake and Mink Frog. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Young Wildlife: If You Care, Leave It There

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is reminding New Yorkers to keep their distance and not to disturb newborn fawns or other young wildlife as many animals are in the peak season for giving birth or hatching young.

Finding a fawn deer lying by itself is fairly common. Many people assume that young wildlife found alone are abandoned, helpless and need assistance for their survival. In nearly all cases this is a mistake, and typically human interaction does more damage than good. If you see a fawn or other newborn wildlife, enjoy your encounter, but for the sake of their well being, it is important to keep it brief and maintain some distance. » Continue Reading.


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