New Species, Uncategorized

New Siren Species: the Reticulated Siren

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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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Frog of the Week

Gopher Frog (Lithobates capito)

photo by Kevin Enge

nearthreatened
Common Name: Gopher Frog
Scientific Name: Lithobates capito
Family: Ranidae
Location: USA – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee (extremely rare)
Size: 2.5 – 3.75 inches

The Gopher Frog gets it name from the fact that they live in Gopher Tortoise’s (Gopherus polyphemus) burrows. Sadly, both the Gopher Frog and the Gopher Tortoise aren’t doing so hot. The habitat that these buddies used to live in was destroyed to make room for development. Fire suppression is another cause of the Gopher Tortoise and Frog decline. The tortoise enjoys wiregrass and herbaceous vegetative covers which gets decreased when invading hardwoods take over due to the fire suppression. It also changes the the quality of the temporary breeding pools that Gopher Frogs use.

The Gopher Frog has two subspecies – the Carolina Gopher Frog (Rana capito capito) and the Florida Gopher Frog (Rana capito aesopus).  The Florida Gopher Frog is darker in color, ranging from grey to brown while the Carolina Gopher Frog is lighter, varying from white, brown, and yellow.

turtle tuesday

Turtle Trouble

Everyone loves turtles with their cute little shells but did you know that many turtles are in serious trouble? There are 243 living species of turtles and 154 of them are listed by the IUCN as vulnerable or worse. That’s 63% of them that are close to becoming extinct. Why are turtle populations in troubles? There are many plenty of reasons including habitat destruction, climate change, pollution, and harvesting for consumption, pet trade, and medicine.

Other Amphibian of the Week

One Toed Amphiuma (Amphiuma pholeter)

by Dan Hipes

nearthreatened
Common Name: One Toed Amphiuma
Scientific Name: Amphiuma pholeter
Family: Amphiumidae
Location: United States – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi
Size: 13 inches

The One Toed Amphiuma is found in the southern United States. They are an aquatic species found primarily in mucky waters in swamps and streams. They are also nocturnal and feed mostly during the night. Because of these features, not much is known about the its lifestyle.

Frog of the Week

Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri)

FowlersToad.JPG
photo by Jimpaz

leastconcern
Common Name: Fowler’s Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus fowleri
Family: Bufonidae
Location: Canada and the United States
US Location: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, West Virginia
Size: 3.75 inches

The Fowler’s Toad is named in honor after naturalist Samuel Page Fowler, who formed the Essex County Natural History Society, which became the Essex Institute and merged Peabody Museum of Salem to form the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. The Fowler’s Toad is found mostly in the eastern United States and barely in southern Canada. They breed during summer, from June to August, and the farther south they are, the later they breed. They can lay between 2000 to 10000 eggs in a clutch.

Other Amphibian of the Week

California Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma californiense)

California_Tiger_Salamander.jpg
photo by John Cleckler

vulnerable
Common Name: California Tiger Salamander
Scientific Name: Ambystoma californiense
Family: Ambystomatidae
Location: United States – California
Size: 8 inches

 

The California Tiger Salamander is a federally listed endangered species and a federally listed threatened species. The salamanders in  Sonoma County and Santa Barbara are endangered while the salamanders in Central Valley are listed as threatened. They are listed mainly because the habitats they call home have been destroyed to make room for farm land and cities. Other threats are invasive American Bullfrogs are known to eat the California Tiger Salamander and mosquitofish, which are used to manager mosquito levels, also eat them.

 

Other Amphibian of the Week

Iberian Ribbed Newt (Pleurodeles waltl)

1280px-Pleurodeles_waltl_BUD
photo by wikiuser Pengo

nearthreatened
Common Name: Iberian Ribbed Newt, Spanish Ribbed Newt
Scientific Name: Pleurodeles waltl
Family: Salamandridae
Location: Morocco, Portugal, and Spain
Size: 1 foot

The Iberian Ribbed Newt is a fascinating species of newt. They have the ability to puncture their ribs out of their sides to protect themselves with little damage to themselves. They are able to survive this damage because of their regenerative abilities.  They can also regrow limbs. The Iberian Ribbed Newt has also been to space at least six times. Apparently, they make a good model organism, especially in space.

Frog of the Week

Pickeral Frog (Lithobates palustris)

Pickeral_Frog
photo by  Brian Gratwicke

Common Name: Pickeral Frog
Scientific Name: Lithobates palustris
Family: Ranidae
Location: United States and Canada
US Locations: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia
Size: 3.5 inches

The Pickeral Frog is found throughout the eastern United States and part of southeastern Canada. They resemble the leopard frogs but the Pickeral Frogs have rectangular spots on their back. The Pickeral Frog is a semi-aquatic species of frog and is found near the edges of streams, lakes, and ponds. In the northern part of their range where it snows, they survive by laying in the bottom of ponds, streams, and pools.

Frog of the Week

Tiger-striped Leaf Frog (Phyllomedusa tomopterna)

Phyllomedusa tomopterna,Makifrosch, Tiger-striped leaf frog
photo by  Frank Teigler

leastconcern
Common Name: Tiger-striped Leaf Frog
Scientific Name: Phyllomedusa tomopterna
Family: Hylidae
Location: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela
Size: 2.3 inches or 60 mm

The Tiger-striped Leaf Frog is a beautiful frog found in the Amazon Rain Forest. These frogs are arboreal (living in trees) and nocturnal (active during the night). Since they live in trees, they also reproduce in the trees and lay their eggs on leaves hanging over pools of water. Once the eggs hatch, the tadpoles drop into the water where they stay until they fully complete their metamorphosis.

Herper of the week

Herper of the Week: Dr. Rob Denton

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Each week a “Herper” of the Week is chosen. These individuals come from all sorts of backgrounds but they all have one common interest – “herps” (reptiles and amphibians). Hopefully, you will learn about them and their important work.

This week’s herper is Dr. Rob Denton, soon to be Assistant Professor at the University of  Minnesota – Morris starting next term. Dr. Denton earned his Ph.D in Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology from THE Ohio State University in 2017. The last year he has worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Connecticut’s Department of Molecular and Cell Biology.

Dr. Denton research focuses on amphibians especially the unisex salamanders of the family Ambystomatidae. These all female salamander populations are found in the Eastern United States. They reproduce by stealing sperm from other male species of salamanders. Rob is also working on completing the genome of the African Bullfrog (Pyxicephalus adspersus).