Friday, April 4, 2014

Even More Salamanders

I went out herping once again Thursday night (April 3) with some fellow wildlife and conservation biology students from Ohio University. We went to the same place as last time, State Route 356 in Athens County. Sadly, there wasn't any salamander migration going on like there was the other night, but we did find some salamanders and some other interesting things.

Let's start with the star of the night.

Marbled Salamander, Ambystoma opacum
This is a Marbled Salamander, Ambystoma opacum. This one raised quite the stir among our group; besides being a lifer for almost all of us, the coloration of this salamander is amazing. This species does not migrate in the Spring, and instead breeds in the fall. We only found this one because we decided to flip a large chunk of concrete on the side of the road.

Marbled Salamander
The Marbled Salamander is uncommon in Ohio. It has been recorded in 26 counties (of the 88), but some of the counties that have no records surely have populations that just haven't been found. For example, Hocking County has no record of them, but I'm sure Hocking County has them somewhere. The thing is, Marbled Salamanders spend most of their year underground, which obviously makes it hard to find them.

Eastern Red-Backed Salamander, Plethodon cinereus
These two slender, slimy salamanders are the Eastern Red-Backed Salamander, Plethodon cinereus. These are really common salamanders in Ohio. There are two different color morphs that can be found in Ohio, the red-backed (shown above) and a lead morph (not shown). They are found most often underground and under rocks and logs in moist forests.

Red-Backed Salamander Ohio
Red-Backed Salamanders need a moist environment because they are lungless salamanders. Since they do not have lungs, they instead breathe through their skin, which must be kept moist. Since their skin is so permeable, these guys, like the Eastern Red-Spotted Newt I mentioned a few posts back, are very sensitive to pollutants in their environment as they will absorb them directly into their body.

Southern Two-Lined Salamander, Eurycea cirrigera
Okay, so this one isn't from Thursday night. This photo is actually from a few weeks ago at The Ridges in Athens, Athens County. The salamander in question is a Southern Two-Lined Salamander, Eurycea cirrigera. This one was found in a small creek under a rock. This species is found in the southern two-thirds of Ohio. There were actually a couple within a pretty small area of the creek. I found two adults and a juvenile one that still had external gills.

Spring Peeper
This is not a salamander, if you couldn't tell. Regardless, I love these little guys and wanted to throw one in. This is a Spring Peeper, Pseudacris crucifer, as you can see from the "X" on its back. I've covered more on these guys on another post of my blog, which can be found here if you're interested: Herping: Frogs, a Toad, and More. These were so loud Thursday night (which is when this one's photo was taken) that my ears were ringing for over an hour when I came home.

Harbinger of Spring, Erigenia bulbosa
This is also not a salamander, but I'm still throwing it in! While walking through a swampy area along the road, I came across a small patch of tiny wildflowers. This is the Harbinger of Spring, Erigenia bulbosa. This is actually the first wildflower I've come across this year, and I was very excited when I stumbled across it. As the name implies, this is one of the first wildflowers to bloom in the Spring. I almost passed it; these are so very tiny. Think clover-sized.

Alright, that was a long enough post. Hopefully you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading!

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