Uncategorized

Spring Salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus)

spring.salamander
photo by John D. Wilson

least concern
Common Name: Spring Salamander
Scientific Name: Gyrinophilus porphyriticus
Family: Plethodontidae – Lungless Salamanders
Locations: Canada and the United States
US Locations: Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, and West Virginia
Size: 9 inches record length, generally only 7 inches

The Spring Salamander is found in and around cool mountain springs, creeks, and seeps. They can spend time under logs, stones, and leaves near the springs. They are noted as being hard to find even with their wide range. Few egg masses from the Spring Salamander has been found because the eggs are laid in underground recesses in the springs.

 

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Cave Salamander (Eurycea lucifuga)

cave_salamander
photo by Todd Pierson

least concern
Common Name: Cave Salamander
Scientific Name: Eurycea lucifuga
Family: Plethodontidae – Lungless Salamanders
Locations: United States – Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia
Size: 8 inches total length

The Cave Salamander can be found in and around caves, hence the name. They are also found along springs and streams. They primarily in the limestone regions. Cave Salamanders are adept climbers and climb the walls of caves and limestone rocks.

While the salamander is listed as Least Concern by the Internal Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), its populations in certain states are dwindling. In Ohio, Kansas, and Mississippi, they are listed as an Endangered species. In West Virginia, they are listed as Rare. The main threat is habitat destruction due to their specific habitat requirements.

 

Uncategorized

Great Basin Spadefoot Toad (Spea intermontana)

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Great Basin Spadefoot by the NPS

least concern
Common Name: Great Basin Spadefoot Toad
Scientific Name: Spea intermontana
Family: Scaphiopodidae – American Spadefoot Toad Family
Locations: Canada and the United States
US Locations: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming
Size: 2.5 inches

The Great Basin Spadefoot Toad is found in the western United States and southwestern Canada. They live primarily in arid, desert regions where rain is hard to come by, but they have adaptations to overcome these hostiles environments. The Great Basin Spadefoot Toads are explosive breeder. Once the spring rain falls, the males migrate to ponds and start calling. After mating, the eggs hatch in 2-4 days. These tadpoles can be herbivorous or carnivorous, depending on the locality. The tadpoles take over a month to fully undergo metamorphosis.

Like all Spadefoot Toads, the Great Basin Spadefoot Toad is great at burrowing. They have powerful hind legs that have keratonized sheaths on their rear feet. This helps them to burrow deep in the ground to protect themselves from their arid environment.

Uncategorized

Cope’s Gray Tree Frog (Hyla chrysoscelis)

GrayTreeFrog
least concern
Common Name: Cope’s Gray Tree Frog
Scientific Name: Hyla chrysoscelis
Family: Hylidae
Locations: United States and Canada
US Locations: Alabama, Arkansas, Washington D.C., Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and West Virginia
Size: 2 inches

The Cope’s Gray Tree Frog is almost identical to the Eastern Gray Tree Frog (Hyla versicolor) besides their calls and chromosome count. The Cope’s Gray Tree Frog is diploid while the Eastern Gray Tree Frog is tetraploid.

The frog is named after Edward Drinker Cope, the man who first described the frog to western science. Edward Drinker Cope described a lot of different species, over a thousand living and dead species. While the frog is named the Gray Tree Frog, it can also be green in color.

Uncategorized

Woodhouse’s Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii)

photo by LA Dawson

leastconcern
Common Name: Woodhouse’s Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus woodhousii
Family: Bufonidae
Locations: Mexico and the United States
US Locations: Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming
Size: 5 inches max

The Woodhouse’s Toad is found in the western United States and down barely into Mexico. It is named after Samuel Washington Woodhouse, a physician and naturalist. There are three different sub species of Woodhouse’s Toad that some scientists recognize.

  • Southwestern Woodhouse’s Toad – Anaxyrus woodhousii australis
  • East Texas toad – Anaxyrus woodhousii velatu
  • Rocky Mountain toad – Anaxyrus woodhousii woodhousii

 

 

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Wyoming Toad (Anaxyrus baxteri)

photo by Sara Armstrong

EW
Common Name: Wyoming Toad, Baxter’s Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus baxteri
Family: Bufonidae
Location: United States – Wyoming
Size: 2 inches

The Wyoming Frog is a federally listed endangered species in the US. It is only found in the Mortenson Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Wyoming and in captivity. The number of Wyoming Toads started a sharp decline in the 1970s until there was under 50 individuals left. It is believed that Chytrid fungus, a fungal infection that suffocates the toad, maybe the reason behind the decline. Other possible reasons for the decline including habitat destruction, toxic pesticide use, and climate change. Luckily, some toads were brought into captivity to survive and reproduce but because of the fungus still out in its habitat, the toad population hasn’t been able to bounce back. The future of the toad depends on solving the Chytrid fungus crisis.

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Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)

leatherback.jpg
photo by the USFW

vulnerable
Common Name: Leatherback Sea Turtle
Scientific Name:  Dermochelys coriacea
Family: Dermochelyidae

The Leatherback Sea Turtle is the largest living species of turtle in the world, weighing up to 1,500 pounds and over 7 feet long. It is also the only extant species in the family Dermochelyidae. The turtle is named after its unusual leathery shell.

The Leatherback Sea Turtle is in trouble of becoming extinct. Some of the threats to them are plastic and chemical pollution, becoming bycatch of fisherman, over-harvesting of their eggs, and climate change. We need to tackle these issues to secure a future for the turtle.

New Species, Uncategorized

New Siren Species: the Reticulated Siren

reticulatedsiren.jpg
photo by Pierson Hill

A new species of siren was discovered in southern Alabama and the Florida panhandle. There were rumors about an undiscovered large, spotted salamander that lived in the area. A few samples of the species was recovered back in the 1970s but people thought they were just bizarre Greater Sirens (Siren lacertina). The species was re-discovered by former Herper of the Week, David Steen Ph.D., when he was trapping turtles on a military base in Florida. He noticed that it was different from other sirens he has seen. Steen and other researchers (Sean P Graham, Richard Kline, Crystal Kelehear) performed genetic tests and found it to be its own species. They named it the Reticulated Siren because of its color pattern.

One of the interesting facts about the new Siren is its size. Its a large salamander, with average size of the specimens collected being around a foot long but some were two feet long. It is one of the largest animals discovered in North America in over a hundred years. You are probably wondering how a two foot long salamander hasn’t been discovered until now. Sirens are a fully aquatic species and live in murky waters, making them hard to see. With the discovery of the Reticulated Siren, the Siren Family, Sirenidae, there are now 5 different species but who knows? There could be even more hiding.

You can read the full article here – https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0207460

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Trip to the Milwaukee Public Museum

I visited the Milwaukee Public Museum to see the new exhibit on frogs. The exhibit was pretty good, except they didn’t include the conservation status of the frogs that they showed. I didn’t take pics of all the species of frogs so go check it out if you are in the area.

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The first frog was the Smoky Jungle Frog. It’s a beautiful frog from South America.

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Next was one of the many species of Monkey Tree Frogs (Phyllomedusa bicolor). They too are found in South America.

tomatofrog

Here’s a Tomato Frog that was hiding from me. I forgot to write down what exact species it is but all 4 members of the Tomato Frog genus Dyscophus are found in Madagascar.

 

There was two big Ornate Horned Frogs They are good boys.

borneoearedfrog

There was a group of Borneo Eared Frogs (Polypedates otilophus). Never seen these frogs before but they were pretty cool even though they were sleeping.

smoothsidedfrog

Another new species that I didn’t know about is the Smooth-sided Toad (Rhaebo guttatus). These guys are actually really big, they can reach over 6 inches long.

chineseglidingfrog

These Chinese Gliding Frogs (Rhacophorus dennysi) were pretty cool to see even though they were asleep. Sadly, none of them were gliding.

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The Asian Tree Frog (Pedostibes hosii) is native to southeastern Asia. It’s pretty awesome.

 

Here are some of the Poison Dart Frogs they had. I am stupid and forgot to write down all the species they had.

 

Last, we have the Amazon Milk Frog (Trachycephalus resinifictrix). These guys are cute and they can grow a lot bigger than I thought they could.

Uncategorized

Manatee Awareness Month

 

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West Indian Manatee by the US Dept of Interior

November is Manatee Awareness Month! Did you know there are three different, living species of manatees or sea cows? The three species are the West Indian / American Manatee (Trichechus manatus), Amazonian manatee (Trichechus inunguis), and the African manatee (Trichechus senegalensis). All three of species are listed by the IUCN as vulnerable which sucks. In the US, the major threat to our manatees is humans, specially watercraft collisions. Manatees are hard to see in the water and they are slow swimmers which lead to these collisions. We need to protect these creatures for future generations.