Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fall Herp Survey at Lick Brook Preserve

On Saturday, September 17 we headed out to the Thayer Preserve at Lick Brook with the Finger Lakes Land Trust. Tom Reimers and Betsy Darlington from the land trust led our group of 29 as we spent the morning flipping rocks and logs in search of herps. With so many people looking, we had lots of great finds.

As always, we found tons of redback salamanders, Plethodon cinereus. These guys supposedly make up more biomass than any other species in this region (pretty impressive for such a small creature). In addition to the normal variety, we also found several leadbacks, the all-gray color morph of the redback.
Surprisingly, we found as many mountain dusky salamanders (Desmognathus ochrophaeus) as we did redbacks. Normally they are found close to water, and you don't find so many duskies by flipping rocks in the forest. Someone in the group suggested that maybe we found so many because heavy rains that week had left the ground much wetter than normal.

In some cases, we found several salamanders under one rock or log.
There were plenty of red efts, the terrestrial juvenile form of the red-spotted newt, Notophthalmus viridescens. These are cool because unlike many other amphibians, which start life in the water and finish it on land, the red-spotted newt starts as an aquatic larvae, then lives on land in the eft form for two to three years before transforming into the aquatic adult form. The juveniles have bright red coloration to warn potential predators of the toxins they secrete.
Another commonly found salamander was the two-lined salamander, Eurycea bislineata.

Although most of the herps found on the trip were salamanders, we also saw some frogs and snakes.

Wood frog, Rana sylvatica

Green frog, Rana clamitans melanota

American toad, Bufo americanus

Ring-necked snake, Diadophis punctatus edwardsii

We also found plenty of cool invertebrates.

Clown millipede



All in all, it was a great day. Our final species count is below:

Redback salamander (Plethodon cinereus): 65, and
   Lead-back morph: 3
Mountain dusky salamander (Desmognathus ochrophaeus): 67
Two-lined salamander (Eurycea bislineata): 21
Red eft, juvenile stage of the Red-spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens): 18
Spring salamander (larva) (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus): 1
American toad (Bufo americanus): 3
Green frog (Rana clamitans melanota): 3
Wood frog (Rana sylvatica): 1
Spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer): 1
Ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus
edwardsii): 2

Thanks a ton to everyone who came out on a Saturday morning, and to the Finger Lakes Land Trust for leading us!

Photos: Mitch Paine.

Post by Jessica Tingle

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