Monday, March 12, 2012

The 2012 Salamander Season Has Started!

Today was my first official day of Spring break, so I did what any 20 year old guy would do on this occasion... I put on some rubber boots and waded around in a algae-covered pond looking for salamander eggs!

The temperature was mild (high 50's to mid 60's) yesterday, and there was a gentle rain all day. So today, I headed out to a pond where Ambystoma maculatum were known to congregate and breed. What did I find? The remnants of a wild, salamander party! Spermatophores, packets of sperm encased in jelly, and clumps of eggs were everywhere! Of course, I collected some egg masses to hatch back here at nerd HQ.

Now for a little something about this species. The Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) is a large, terrestrial salamander ranging between 15-25 cm in total length. For most of the year, this species lives beneath rocks, logs, and in burrows. Ambystoma maculatum migrate to ponds to breed on warm, rainy nights in late winter and early spring.

Below are some shots of the breeding site. The white dots in the pictures are unused spermatophores.