Dr Steve Sheffield and members of Virginia Tech’s Field Biology Class Mike grgory and myself pose for a group photo after a night of field herping. tonight’s yield included 6 species of salamanders ( Four plethodonts: Eurycea bislineata, Eurycea longicauda longicauda, Desmognathus fuscus, Plethodon cinereus, Ambystoma opacum, and numerous Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens. We also found three species of Anurans (Lithobates): Lithobates palustris, Lithobates sylvaticus, and one from the enus Psuedacris: Pseudacris crucifer.
Above: Two lined and a longtail salamander caught together under same log.
The trip did not focus specifically on herps Other animals as well as plant species were recorded.
above: several Marbled Salamander Larva. Marbled Sals bred in the late summer and as a cnsequnce got a head start on the spotted salamanders. Not a good thing for Spotteds or Wood Frog eggs and larva. But that is nature and always manages to balance itself out.
A female marbled salamander protects her eggs along Bull Run floodplain. She was discovered underneath a rotten log about 35 feet from the nearest potential vernal pool. She wil remain with her developing eggs until the next heavy rain so that they can make their transition to water where the eggs will soon hatch. If enoguh rain doesn’t then the eggs will remain under the log until the the follwing spring. Once the eggs do hatch she will abandon them then retreat underground until the next breeding season in the fall. Meanwhile the tadpole like larva will reside in the pools feeding on invertebrates and eventauly the eggs of other salamander species until they are ready to transition once more to a terrestial existance.
Driving on the back roads near my house especially during a summer evening rain can be very productive for Herps and Owl sitings. Tonight a cold front moved in and with some rain. Theconditions seemed to promote an abundance of Red spotted Newts.
Above Marbled Salamander found by Mike during a an early morning walk along a wetland area within a Regional Park. Also found were a spotted salamander (below) in the same vacinity. Both species belong to a group of salamanders known as mole salamanders simply because they burrow after their done with their breeding season. The two often utilize the same vernal pools but breed at different times of the year and lay their eggs differently. Spots breed in late winter or early spring and lay their eggs in water. Marbled breed earlier on usually in the Fall and their eggs are laid in depressions on land near water where the eggs can be washed into vernal pools with the later fall of early winter rains.