Presentation on theme: "Salamander Identification Guide"— Presentation transcript:
1 Salamander Identification Guide Citizen Monitoring of Wisconsin’s SalamandersbyWisconsin Audubon ChaptersRandy Korb, Project DirectorTraining Guides by Mary Linton
2 This guide will help you identify Wisconsin’s salamanders This guide will help you identify Wisconsin’s salamanders. Two other guides are also available: a guide to Wisconsin’s frogs, toads, and treefrogs, and a guide to the Protocols for the citizen salamander monitoring project.The guides are in PowerPoint, a presentation software made by Microsoft. You movethrough the guide by clicking your mouse or touchpad until you see “THE END”.There are many other good resources available, and we will list some good sourcesat the end of this guide.
3 Purpose of this Project Wisconsin has a long-term and successful monitoring program for frogs, toads and tree frogs, the members of the Class Amphibia that have males that call during mating . They use the calls of these amphibians to verify their presence in habitats all over the state.Salamanders, the other large group of the Class Amphibia, don’t make mating calls, so cannot be monitored simply. This project seeks to begin a systematic monitoring of salamanders that will add to what is already known about their populations in Wisconsin. In specific, your efforts will help verify distributions of salamanders and fill the large gaps of knowledge in areas where salamander surveys have not been conducted.The data you collect will help preserve and protect Wisconsin’s salamanders.
4 Amphibians come in two types those without tailsthose with tailsThese belong to the Order Caudatawhich includes Salamanders, Newtsand MudpuppiesThe juvenile stage is called a LarvaMissouri State BiologyThese belong to the Order Anurawhich includes Frogs, Toads and Tree FrogsThe juvenile stage is called a TadpoleClyde Peeling
5 Wisconsin’s 6 salamander species exhibit the full range of Amphibian life cycles: Mole salamanders in the Family Ambystomatidae: breed in water, larvae are aquatic and adults are terrestrial. 3 species.Newts in the Family Salamandridae: breed in water, adults are aquatic, there are 2 sub adult stages – first an aquatic larva and then a terrestrial juvenile called an eft. 1 species.Lungless Salamanders in the family Plethodontidae: 2 species in Wisconsin – both with terrestrial adults, but one also has terrestrial larvae, while the other has aquatic larvae.Mudpuppies in the Family Proteidae: All life stages are aquatic. 1 species
6 During this initial season of salamander monitoring we will focus on those species that can be collected in a minnow trap.The salamanders most of us will find will have adults that breedin water, aquatic larvae, or aquatic adults.
7 Here are important characteristics for identifying adults of Wisconsin’s 5 salamander speciesohiohistorycentral,.org1.Adults have externalgills for breathing?None here, butThe mudpuppy has deep red gills
8 2. Is the body robust or is it slender? Robust here but ohiohistorycentral,.org2.Is the bodyrobust or is itslender?Robust here butRedbacks are slender
9 Are there vertical grooves on the body – called Coastal Grooves? Newts have no coastal groovesohiohistorycentral,.orgPlenty here but3.Are there vertical grooves on the body – called Coastal Grooves?
11 A Typical Mole Salamander Life Cycle Mole salamanders are among the first amphibiansto breed in the spring. They rise from their underground overwintering sites and head to their breeding ponds – typically an ephemeral pond, or one that fills in late fall or early spring, then dries in late summer or fall. Mole salamanders can successfully breed here because ephemeral ponds lack vertebrate predators.Surviving eggs hatch into larvae thatstay in the pond until ready tometamorphose – turn into new, smallterrestrial salamanders. Note the 4legs , external gills, and body– definitely no tadpole.The larvae leave the pond at theend of summer and eventuallybecome adultsAfter a dance and mating, eggsare laid in the pond. The eggsare covered with one or moregelatinous layers and are laidin small or large clumps.
12 Tiger Salamander – Ambystoma tigrinum rbnc.orgVery hefty. Sturdylegs make tigersalamanders betterthan other sala-manders at landtravel.Black backgroundwith variable yellowmarks on head, bodyand tail.Five hind toesOur largest land salamander – 7 to13 inches in length and stocky. They have deep coastalgrooves and live in rodent burrows as adults. Adults and larvae are voracious predators.Adults have even been known to eat rodents. Tiger salamander adults live in woods, grass-lands and farmer’s pastures. That’s why they are often found in basement window wells.Tigers breed in ephemeral ponds, permanent ponds, even farm ponds.
13 Spotted Salamander – Ambystoma maculatum Not as stocky asTigers, but stillrobust.Black backgroundwith 2 irregularrows of yellowspots running downhead and body. Headspots may be orange.Another groovyspeciesFive toes on hindfootOur second-largest salamander - 4 to 8 inches. Adults like closed canopy woods with lotsof brush. Spotted salamanders breed in ephemeral ponds. Eggs are laid in a solid gelatinousmass attached to twigs or vegetation. The eggs may have a greenish tinge due to an algathat lives in the gelatinous coating.
14 Blue-spotted Salamander – Ambystoma laterale The third groovy speciesStill notslenderDark body fleckedwith many blueor white spots.Five toes on hind feetThe smallest Ambystoma salamander – 3 to 6 inches in length. Blue-spots can secrete amilky white substance when handled, making them very slippery. Take time to get a goodhold. The adults live in wooded areas and breed in ephemeral ponds.
15 As you can tell by the previous slide, Blue-spot color patterns do vary. Part of this variation is due to the fact that blue-spots have hybridized with other Ambystoma species. Thesehybrids are ancient lines of salamanders that are entirely female and produce offspringfrom unfertilized eggs. The hybrids can be found wherever blue-spots are found and thereis no way to distinguish them in the field. They can only be told apart by examining theirchromosomes. So, if a salamander looks like a blue-spot, record it as a blue-spot.
17 The central newt life cycle is more complicated than that of the Mole salamanders The adults are usually found in water (1), but can easily survive on land (1). In fact,they hibernate on land and migrate from pond to pond.The 2ndjuvenilestage is theterrestrialEft (5). ThisIs the onlystage youwon’t catchin a minnowtrap.Newts dobreed inwater.Could be inSpring orFall.The eggs (2) are laid on submerged vegetation In the spring. The aquatic larva (3)hatches and grows through summer until it is ready metamorphose (4).
18 Central Newt – a subspecies of the Eastern Newt Notophthalmus viridescens louisianensisNo coastal groovesLight-colored bodyflecked with darkspots. Rare largespots with lightinterior. Notewhitish bellyStill robustFive toes onhind feet (really!)Eft,terrestrial juvenileAquatic larvaThe central newt is a small salamander – 2 to 4 inches in length. Its skin is rough and wellcovered with toxic skin glands. The terrestrial adult tends to be darker than the aquaticadult above. They breed in ponds with good vegetation, so often found in permanent ponds.
19 OK. If you know the four we have covered so far, you will be in great shape for your sampling season.But here are the rest, just in case!
21 Four-toed Salamander – Hemidactylium scutatum Greeenish-Brown backwith blackmottlingSlender4 toes onhind footWhite bellyAlso called the bog salamander because it nests in the sphagnum on the surface of bogs.When the larvae hatch, they wriggle through the moss to the water, grow, then return tothe forests as adults. This is a small salamander – 3 to 4 inches – and very hard to find.Adults mate on land – only the small larva is truly aquatic. Notice the crimp at the start ofthe tail. They can jettison their tail if being attacked from behind. If anyone finds one of thesewe will have a party.
22 Red-backed Salamander – Plethodon cinereus 5 toes on hind footSlenderRed strip on backSides and bellybrown-gray withwhite specksRed-backs actually exhibit some color variation. The ones with no red stripe on the back aresometimes called lead-backs. This is a completely terrestrial salamander – females nest with,and protect their eggs. When the eggs hatch, the tiny larvae have gill buds for a short time,Then lose the bids and look like tiny adults. Red-backs live in rich woodlands with rottingdowned logs where they live and nest. Obviously, these salamanders will not appear in ourminnow traps.
24 Mudpuppy – Necturus maculosus All stages of lifecycle are foundin lakes andrivers.Bright red gills4 toes on the hind feetMudpuppies exhibit something called Neotony, or the condition of becoming an adultIn the same form as the larva. In this case a large larva – at inches in length theMudpuppy is our largest salamander. Some people consider mudpuppies “trash” critters.They are not poisonous, and in fact are great aquatic citizens. They are the host to theSalamander mussel, an endangered species in Wisconsin.
25 How about salamander larvae? Blue-spotted SalamanderIt’s very hard to tellthe Ambystomasalamander larvaeapart when theyare young.SpottedSalamanderThey look very different fromCentral Newt larvae. If you collecta larva with 5 toes on hind feet, lotsof speckles except on the throat, andno dark line through the eye, call itan Ambystoma larva.Tiger Salamander
26 Remember the aquaticlarva of the Central Newt?If you find a SMALL larva with no coastal grooves (or they are faint), nomembranous fin that runs up over the back, and a dark line through theeye, record it as a Central Newt larva,
27 Larvae of the species you are unlikely to encounter: Mudpuppy larvae are found in lakesand rivers. They have 4 toes on the hindfeet, are striped, have a dorsal finonly on the tail, and lovely red gills.…4-toed salamander larvae also onlyhave 4 toes on the hind feet, a dorsalfin over the tail and body, and a darkline through the eye (really). Theyare found in bog ponds.….
28 Wisconsin’s salamanders are not evenly distributed across the state. You can discover what has previously been found in your areaby checking the Wisconsin Herp Atlas. It can be found on-line at:Why not take some time to check the atlas out now?----- first click on the hotlink above.------when the Herp Atlas home page appears, click on “SpeciesAccounts”, then on a species from the list on the left margin.Make special note of the species not strongly represented in your area.
29 Feel free to review this presentation as often as you wish. Here are some other great resources:BooksAmphibians of Wisconsin by Rebecca Christoffel, Robert Hay and Michelle Wolfgram.can be viewed or purchased on-line at:A Field Guide to Amphibian Larvae and Eggs of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa byJeffrey R. Parmalee, Melinda G. Knutson, and James E. Lyoncan be ordered from the US Geological Survey ( oror contact the author atAmphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region by James H. Harding.-available from Amazon, or ordered from your favorite local bookstore.Websites:EEK (Environmental Education for Kids) by the Wisconsin DNR[