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 Post subject: Salamander Movement Question
PostPosted: September 25th, 2016, 4:11 pm 
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Joined: January 19th, 2014, 4:34 pm
Posts: 515
Location: Springfield, VA
Hey everyone, I've posted here a few times before, but my name is Matt and I just moved from Tampa, FL to Fairfax County, VA. While I'm still in the Southeast Chapter (geographically speaking), the climate and terrain around my new home is more in line with that of the Northeast.

Tampa was a tough sell for finding salamanders, so I'm looking to score some lifers this fall in Northern VA, which is much more abundant in salamander diversity. I have a target area to go road cruising later this fall, but I wanted to get a feel for when and under what conditions are ideal. I know that a good rain shower and cool temps are required, but is there a certain temperature threshold, combined with an approximate calendar date, that is best? For example, a wet night at 45F after November 15?

Salamanders in this area that I am targeting are Spotted, Marbled, Northern Dusky, Three-lined, Newts, White-spotted Slimies, and Northern Reds , which all range into the area that I'm targeting. I realize that not all of these will be moving at once, but all of them would be lifers for me. Is there no exact science to their movements, meaning I should just make a gut call one night in November after a long, cool rain?

Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Salamander Movement Question
PostPosted: September 27th, 2016, 1:43 pm 

Joined: September 22nd, 2012, 5:13 pm
Posts: 437
Hi Matt,

I'm going to chime in until someone else can give you a more experienced answer, as I usually don't road cruise salamanders. The question that I had for you: why not look for them in their native habitat instead of seeking them out as they are moving? Many of the salamanders that you mentioned are inhabitants of small, spring or seepage fed streams and wooded, moist areas and north-facing slopes.

Regarding road cruising, I more associate seeing them crossing roads on the first warm rains of spring. Spotteds are readily observed moving from winter hibernacula into vernal pools during this time, and four toeds and redbacks are often seen at this time as well. Marbled sals are autumnal breeders and usually lay eggs in dried vernal pools, so movement may be now during rainy periods, although they seem to be most often observed after being flipped. Marbled sals seem to me to be pretty tolerant of drier conditions vs. many other salamanders, so definitely flip near dried vernals, not just in, even if the debris is near a ridge. Don't ignore bark that has fallen from trees! Newts seem to be surface active on humid summer days, especially after rain showers. The plethodontid sals that you listed, as I noted above, are mostly stream and streamside sals (with the exception of the slimies) so keep this in mind. I'm a big fan of observing and photographing sals too, best of luck in your search and don't forget to post pictures!!

MC


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 Post subject: Re: Salamander Movement Question
PostPosted: September 27th, 2016, 4:59 pm 
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Joined: January 19th, 2014, 4:34 pm
Posts: 515
Location: Springfield, VA
MCHerper wrote:
Hi Matt,

I'm going to chime in until someone else can give you a more experienced answer, as I usually don't road cruise salamanders. The question that I had for you: why not look for them in their native habitat instead of seeking them out as they are moving? Many of the salamanders that you mentioned are inhabitants of small, spring or seepage fed streams and wooded, moist areas and north-facing slopes.

Regarding road cruising, I more associate seeing them crossing roads on the first warm rains of spring. Spotteds are readily observed moving from winter hibernacula into vernal pools during this time, and four toeds and redbacks are often seen at this time as well. Marbled sals are autumnal breeders and usually lay eggs in dried vernal pools, so movement may be now during rainy periods, although they seem to be most often observed after being flipped. Marbled sals seem to me to be pretty tolerant of drier conditions vs. many other salamanders, so definitely flip near dried vernals, not just in, even if the debris is near a ridge. Don't ignore bark that has fallen from trees! Newts seem to be surface active on humid summer days, especially after rain showers. The plethodontid sals that you listed, as I noted above, are mostly stream and streamside sals (with the exception of the slimies) so keep this in mind. I'm a big fan of observing and photographing sals too, best of luck in your search and don't forget to post pictures!!

MC


Thanks for the reply! I've actually started to seek them out in their natural habitat, as I have a nice stretch of woods behind my house with an ephemeral creek that leads to a larger creek with a steady flow. I've only found Northern Two-lined Salamanders so far, but they seem to be quite abundant. As the temps drop and more rain pushes through, I hope to turn up a few more species back there, as there is certainly more than enough forested habitat and an abundance of rotting logs to support several species. However, other than this area, I don't really have a good spot to look for them, or the time, as the recent move and work have kept me busy. Not to mention that we have a 2.5 year old and another baby on the way! Sometimes stealing away at night to cruise during/after rain for amphibians is my best bet. Plus, the roads I have picked out appear to be relatively lightly traversed, and they bisect very large tracts of contiguous forest that should house plenty of sallies. I just know from seeing HERP records that people have had success cruising them late Fall, though I understand that early Spring is the ideal time. I'd just rather not have to wait until then!

Here are some pics of the Two-lineds I've turned up. Most were within a few hundred feet of my house. I've also turned up six other herp species around my house, and I'm sure there are plenty more to discover.

ImageDSCN9605 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN9644 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN9653 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN9620 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Habitat

ImageDSCN9642 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN9638 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr


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 Post subject: Re: Salamander Movement Question
PostPosted: October 9th, 2016, 4:26 pm 
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Joined: January 19th, 2014, 4:34 pm
Posts: 515
Location: Springfield, VA
After the rains yesterday from Hurricane Matthew, I went out roadcruising at night. I didn't turn up any salamanders on the roads, but there were plenty of frogs. MC - I went and took your advice and sought the salamanders out in their native habitat. It paid off! I turned up four Marbled Salamanders and one Spotted Salamander - both lifers! There wasn't enough rain to create vernals, but the roads and the understory were still quite damp.

ImageDSCN9732 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

This one was out foraging.

ImageDSCN9749 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN9765 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

This one was also out for a midnight stroll.

ImageDSCN9768 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Last one

ImageDSCN9774 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Today, I was at the neighborhood playground with my kid and decided to flip a flew logs after he was done on the swing. Previously, I had only turned up Northern Two-lined Salamanders in this area. Today, I had a nice surprised as I found about six Red-backed Salamanders with minimal effort. Two of them were lead phases, which I've never encountered before.

Imageiphone Redbacked Salamander 1 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Imageiphone Redbacked Salamander 3 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Imageiphone Redbacked Salamander 5 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Imageiphone Redbacked Salamander 7 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Imageiphone Redbacked Salamander 8 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

So that's two species near my house. I'm sure that there are more out there, especially now that it's getting cooler out. Hopefully I can get another lifer or two before the year closes out. MC, thanks again for the advice!


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 Post subject: Re: Salamander Movement Question
PostPosted: October 18th, 2016, 9:28 am 

Joined: September 22nd, 2012, 5:13 pm
Posts: 437
Hey Matt,

Good stuff! Congrats on the finds! I hope to see some marbled sals soon too!

MC


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 Post subject: Re: Salamander Movement Question
PostPosted: December 29th, 2016, 8:22 pm 

Joined: February 19th, 2016, 6:42 am
Posts: 7
I can't speak for Virginia, but I had no luck with salamander movements on roads in north-central Maryland over the past year. Finding my target species (Red, Wehrle's, Seal, Allegheny Mountain Dusky, Spring, Northern Dusky, etc) in appropriate habitat has been quite fruitful in MD and PA though.

Looking forward to heading into VA and WV in a few months!


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