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Posts Tagged ‘amphibians’
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With the arrival of spring temperatures, amphibians have begun their annual migrations to woodland pools to breed. Often, they must cross roads to reach these pools. In New York, this migration usually occurs on rainy nights in late March and early April, when the night air temperature is above 40F. When these conditions exist there can be explosive, “big night” migrations, with hundreds of amphibians on the move. Volunteers can help document these locations and help amphibians like wood frogs, spotted salamanders, American toads, or spring peepers safely cross the road. Drivers on New York roads are encouraged to proceed with caution or avoid travel on the first warm, rainy evenings of the season. Amphibians come out after nightfall and are slow-moving; mortality can be high even on low-traffic roads.
Photo of wood frog by Laura Heady.
Every once in a while, as I’m tramping through the winter woods on my snowshoes, it occurs to me that I am walking on top of frogs.
In winter, our thoughts naturally turn to the species who remain within our sight – the chickadees at our feeders or the foxes who leave records of their travels in the snow – but any creature whose life spans more than one season, and who cannot fly away to warmer climes, must find a way to endure the cold. In February, our amphibians are all still here. They’ve just tucked themselves away for safekeeping. » Continue Reading.
As a kid, I was fascinated and terrified by the idea of carnivorous plants. Growing up in suburban New Jersey, my only exposure to this particular subset of the plant kingdom was the ravenous, larger-than-life Venus fly trap in Little Shop of Horrors.
If I stumbled upon a carnivorous plant in real life, I wondered, would it have teeth? If I ventured too close, would it grab on to my finger and never let go? » Continue Reading.
They did their best to follow the cardinal rule of middle school social interaction – thou shalt not appear “uncool” by expressing interest in anything whatsoever that an adult is asking of you – but the salamanders exposed the chinks in their armor. Crouched low over small wooden boards we’d set out to mimic the rotting logs that red-backeds prefer, the students murmured with excitement. » Continue Reading.
Insect repellents containing picaridin can be lethal to salamanders. So reports a new study published in Biology Letters that investigated how exposure to two common insect repellents influenced the survival of aquatic salamander and mosquito larvae.
Insect repellents are a defense against mosquito bites and mosquito-borne diseases like dengue, chikungunya, Zika, and West Nile virus. Salamanders provide natural mosquito control. During their aquatic juvenile phase, they forage on mosquito larvae, keeping populations of these nuisance insects in check. » Continue Reading.
If you walk by a pond on a summer evening, you may hear the deep “jug-o-rum” of a bullfrog or the “tung” of a green frog, sounding like a plucked banjo string. Sometimes you’ll hear a whole chorus of frogs, the songs competing with each other for attention.
The frogs are not singing for our enjoyment, of course. Most frog sounds we hear are advertisement calls to attract mates, and the callers are usually males. In some species, these vocalizations also help male frogs maintain territories against other males. If you look closely around the shore of a pond, you often see male green frogs spaced at regular intervals. » Continue Reading.
There’s a myth environmental educators like to tell, and it goes something like this: after every long northern winter, spring returns. Days lengthen, temperatures rise, the snowpack slowly disappears, and one afternoon, it begins to rain – a soaking, 45-degree rain that continues well into the night.
On that one big night, all of the wood frogs and salamanders and spring peepers clamber out of their winter burrows and migrate – up to a quarter-mile, on tiny feet – to their breeding pools. An explosion of life, all on that one big night. We call this myth: Big Night.
In reality, most years, our region experiences several Big Nights, one or two Medium Nights, and sometimes a smattering of Small Nights. It all depends on the weather. » Continue Reading.
The word ‘migration’ conjures images of vast wildebeest or pronghorn herds crossing plains in unison, or hummingbirds traversing the Gulf of Mexico. When charismatic birds leave our Northeastern forests, migration is typically the explanation. But how can a group of plants disappear, without discarding leaves, stems, or other evidence of their presence?
Duckweeds are in the subfamily Lemnoideae and are the world’s smallest flowering plant. Their small oval leaves float on ponds and quiet backwaters. Root-like fibers dangle in the water. Although I’d noticed them on St. Michael’s College experimental ponds, as an entomologist, I’d never paid them close attention. Until they disappeared. » Continue Reading.
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.
Years ago, I stopped when I saw a turtle attempting to cross a high-traffic road. When I picked it up, I noticed its intricately sculpted shell. The top, or carapace, was covered with layers of bony scales, called scutes, which formed small pyramids circled by concentric growth rings. Finely spaced ridges radiated from each apex. The unusual shell and orange skin helped me identify it as a wood turtle, a species being considered for federal listing as endangered because populations have declined in most northeastern states. » Continue Reading.
The Wild Center family is expanding this fall and visitors have the chance to meet the newest members over Columbus Day Weekend. An otter, porcupine, black rat snake and rare, albino wood turtle are all calling The Wild Center their new home.
There will be animal encounters with the new residents throughout the weekend, a baby-themed golden otter quest and visitors have the chance to make their own baby animal to take home. Born to be Wild! is on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, October 8–10, from 10 am until 5 pm. The Wild Center is located at 45 Museum Drive in Tupper Lake. » Continue Reading.
Scenes from the West’s five-year drought are striking – the cracked mud at the bottom of a dry reservoir, forests in flames. Wonder what a drought would look like in the Northern Forest? Just look out the window.
This is the first time that any part of New Hampshire has been in an “extreme drought” since the federal government began publishing a drought index in 2000, said Mary Lemcke-Stampone, the state’s climatologist. “Using state records, you have to go back to the early ‘80s to get the extreme dryness we’ve been seeing in southeastern New Hampshire.” » Continue Reading.
We like to think that everything in nature has its own particular time and place. But nature is fond of throwing us curves. As a naturalist, a common question I’m asked during foliage season is, “why are spring peepers calling in my woods at this time of year?”
Even ardent students of nature can be stumped by the plaintive, autumnal notes of peepers; sounds that we easily recognize in the spring can seem alien when they appear out of context. Jim Andrews, Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Rubenstein School at the University of Vermont, and Vermont’s go-to expert on all things herpetological, described how autumn peepers have fooled birders. “They were trying to locate the birds that made these noises in the fall, of course, with no success.” » Continue Reading.
My children have always embraced the nontraditional when it comes to gift giving. There have not been a lot of crazy ties or Old Spice that has crossed our door in anticipation of Father’s Day. Instead, my husband has endured his fair share of incompatible food tastings and inedible breakfast sandwiches. Like most fathers, he doesn’t really care what comes on the plate as long as he can spend time with his family.
According to the Town of Webb Publicity Director Mike Farmer, the Old Forge Frog Jumping and Ugly Tie Contest is about as nontraditional as one can get. For the past 44 years Old Forge has been the gathering spot for longest jumping frogs in the area. This event pits frog against frog in a series of categories like size, speed and longest jump.
“All frogs are safe and welcome here for Father’s Day,” says Farmer. “We make sure that the frogs have plenty of water and that they are released back into the wild. Annually over 30 frogs compete at the Old Forge Lakefront starting Sunday at noon. We run three heats of eight frogs each.” » Continue Reading.