From a field-herping standpoint, this fall has been a bit disappointing for me. Since returning back to the states, the last few months have flown by. I've been super busy with school and soccer. Other than a few days in August, I haven't herped at all. However, when certain weather conditions present themselves, sometimes you simply have to drop whatever you're doing to get out into the field. Last Tuesday (26 October) was one such day. I left my Mammalogy class at 5:00 PM to be greeted by a warm, heavy rainstorm. After a bit of coordination, Carl and I headed out to do a bit of roadcruising to see what amphibians we could turn up.
Our first salamander:
Jefferson's salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum), a common road find in spring or fall rainstorms.
Green frog (Lithobates clamitans).
Spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer). A few other peepers, American toads, and bullfrogs were observed.
Spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum)
Most Ambystomatid salamanders breed during the spring. However, one interesting species found in SE Ohio defies this trend. The Marbled salamander (Ambystoma opacum) mates and lays its eggs in the fall.
Marbled salamander (Ambystoma opacum), our target for the night. Unlike other species of this genus that lay eggs masses in vernal pools, A. opacum lay terrestrial eggs under logs or rocks, where the females remain to brood for a few weeks. During heavy fall rainfall, the eggs hatch and the larvae collect in the forming pools. Since this process occurs during the fall, the Marbled larvae presumably have a competitive advantage over other spring-born salamander larvaen. Also, they are much larger and are able to chow down on interspecific competitors.
Another individual. After cruising for a bit, Carl and I returned to Athens met up with a new biology prof here at Ohio University, Dr. Shawn Kuchta. The three of us then headed out to another productive spot of Carl's, where we observed the following species.
Grey treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis/versicolor)
Leopard frog (Lithobates pipiens). Although quite common in other parts of its range, the Leopard frog is a rarely encountered anuran in this corner of Ohio. In my 4 years living in Athens, this was the first one I've encountered (in SE Ohio).
In addition to more Spotteds and Marbleds, we also saw Redbacked salamanders (Plethodon cinereus), Two-lined salamanders (Eurycea cirrigera), and Eastern newts (Notophthalmus viridescens).