The Forest in Fall
This marbled salamander (Ambystome opacum), part of the mole salamander genus (genus Ambystoma) is not often found in Black Rock Forest and is one of three rare species found here this summer and fall.
October is when marbled salamanders breed, unlike other mole salamanders. After they mate, the females lay their eggs in a clutch inside a small depression in the mud, usually around a vernal (or seasonal) pond. The female remains with the eggs to keep them moist until fall rains take over and they hatch. Because they lay their eggs early, they are among the first to hatch, develop and get bigger faster which gives them an edge over other salamanders and tadpoles in the spring.
Finding three rare species, including wood turtles (Glyptemis insculpta) and spotted turtles (Clemmys guttata), in Black Rock Forest in as many months highlights the conservation efforts we have made as we work to ensure the long-term sustainability of our region’s wildlife by conserving and enhancing ecological connectivity as well as using ecological management to promote healthier forests with high levels of biodiversity.
As you walk through the woods this October, if you pass one of our vernal ponds – look for these wonderful salamanders emerging and remember that these bodies of water are fragile ecosystems.