Vernal Pool Amphibians J. Katko

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Check out what type of cool amphibians we have in Ohio that use vernal pools.

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Vernal Pool Amphibians J. Katko

  1. 1. Vernal Pool Amphibians
  2. 2. Frogs and toads Wood Frogs are obligate vernal pool breeders Wood Frogs are obligate vernal pool breeders American Toads, Spring Peepers, Chorus, American Toads, Spring Peepers, Chorus, Leopard, and Gray Treefrogs are facultative Leopard, and Gray Treefrogs are facultative Have marked fidelity to natal pool Have marked fidelity to natal pool Only males vocalize, and only during breeding season Only males vocalize, and only during breeding season (both sexes have alarm calls) (both sexes have alarm calls)
  3. 3. Ohio EPA ratings of ecological sensitivity of vernal pool amphibians Salamanders Frogs and Toads •Smallmouth 4 •American Toad 2 •Unisexual hybrids 5 •N. Spring Peeper 3 •Jefferson 6 •Western Chorus Frog 4 •Eastern Newt 6 •Northern Leopard Frog 4 •Spotted 8 •Gray Treefrog 4 •Marbled 8 •Wood Frog 7 •Tiger 9 •Four-toed 10 •Blue-spotted 10
  4. 4. Newly-laid egg mass Wood Frog – Rana sylvatica Explosive breeders in mid-late March Females often lay eggs together in “rafts” Eggs laid at water surface Ohio’s champion frost-hardy amphibian Disappearing in Ohio, possibly gone in far NW part of state Ohio EPA has repatriation program Egg hatch State distribution maps from ohioamphiobians.com Wood Frog pair in amplexus Wood Frog pair in amplexus
  5. 5. How many frogs? Leopard Frog – Rana pipiens •Only breed in semipermanent pools •Late April breeding season Gray Treefrog – Hyla versicolor •Disappearing in Ohio •Champion color changer •Later breeders (mostly May-June) •Breed in long-lasting pools
  6. 6. Spring Peeper – Pseudacris crucifer Very small (1 inch) but very loud – sound amplified by gular pouch Live in moist woods and climb a foot or so up into vegetation Breed from early March to mid-April Newly-laid eggs “X” marks the species attached to stem Cluster of egg masses Giving it all he’s got!
  7. 7. Western Chorus Frog – Pseudacris triseriata •About 1-1/4 inch long •About 1-1/4 •Breeds from early March to mid-April •Breeds mid-April •Call sounds like fingers raking a metal comb •Call •Call amplified by gular pouch •Call adult Embryos developing in egg mass
  8. 8. toads •To about 3 inches in length •To about 3 inches in length •Breeds in April to early May •Breeds in April to early May •Utilizes a wide variety of breeding habitats •Utilizes a wide variety of breeding habitats •One female can lay 12,000 eggs! •One female can lay 12,000 eggs! Egg mass American Toad – Bufo (Anaxurus) americanus Fowler’s Toad – Bufo (A.) fowleri Eggs laid in strings
  9. 9. Salamanders General salamander information: General salamander information: •Utilize various upland habitats •Utilize various upland habitats •Usually temporary visitors to vernal pools •Usually temporary visitors to vernal pools •Larvae have external gills and quickly grow legs (front legs first) •Larvae have external gills and quickly grow legs (front legs first) •Some use vernal pools for breeding, but can use other habitats •Some use vernal pools for breeding, but can use other habitats •Silent breeders; use pheromones to attract females •Silent breeders; use pheromones to attract females •Larvae must transform into adults before pool dries •Larvae must transform into adults before pool dries •Larvae are top vernal pool predators •Larvae are top vernal pool predators •All salamander species are entirely predatory and carnivorous •All salamander species are entirely predatory and carnivorous (Insects, worms, spiders, crustaceans, mollusks) (Insects, worms, spiders, crustaceans, mollusks) •Preyed on by birds, raccoons, snakes •Preyed on by birds, raccoons, snakes
  10. 10. salamander larvae prey… paramecia protists euglena mosquito larvae insects rotifers ostracods crustaceans fairy shrimp cladocerans isopods fly amphipods copepods larvae …and predators mayfly larvae water scorpion beetle larvae dragonfly larva
  11. 11. Facultative Species – Eastern Spotted Newt Notophthalmus viridescens •Prefer permanent to semipermanent pools larva •Breeds in April National distribution maps from ARMI atlas (USGS) •Terrestrial eft stage lasts several years Aquatic adult •Can leave pool during dry periods •Male has tubercles on legs to grasp female •Skin is highly toxic Eft stage amplexus
  12. 12. Four-toed Salamander – Hemidactylium scutatum Species of special concern in Ohio Needs undisturbed forests Mostly found with sphagnum moss; eggs laid in moss and larvae drop into water when hatched 2-3 inches long, slender, with shield-type markings on back and salt-and-pepper belly Female brooding eggs in sphagnum Sphagnum moss biology.astate.edu
  13. 13. obligate species: Ambystomids (mole salamanders) Live underground or under cover most of the year Will emerge on wet nights to forage for food on forest floor Sustained temperatures above ~75 degrees are fatal Life span of ~12 (Smallmouth) to ~25 (Tiger) years Woodland habitat usually moist; Jefferson prefers higher woods Several species may share the same pond Eastern Tiger Salamander – Ambystoma tigrinum tigrinum •Needs mature forests •Largest of ambystomids – to about 9 inches fwie.fw.vt.edu •Largely extirpated from northern Ohio
  14. 14. Female vent Male vent spermatophores Animals emerge from underground during warm late winter/early spring rain events Animals emerge from underground during warm late winter/early spring rain events Smallmouth emerge first – even in warm January spells, but more usually in early March Smallmouth emerge first – even in warm January spells, but more usually in early March Spotteds are latest – often early April Spotteds are latest – often early April Migrate up to several hundred yards to ponds; males arrive a few days before females Migrate up to several hundred yards to ponds; males arrive a few days before females Males produce a pheromone that excites female breeding response Males produce a pheromone that excites female breeding response Vents swell during breeding – the males’ more than the females’ Vents swell during breeding – the males’ more than the females’ Animals pair off at night, the male nudging pheromones into female’s skin with his snout Animals pair off at night, the male nudging pheromones into female’s skin with his snout Male deposits up to several dozen spermatophores on pond substrate (leaves, twigs) Male deposits up to several dozen spermatophores on pond substrate (leaves, twigs) Fertilization is internal; sperm extremely sensitive to water chemistry Fertilization is internal; sperm extremely sensitive to water chemistry
  15. 15. Spotted Salamander – Ambystoma maculatum About 6 inches in length, female > male April breeding season (but weather dependent) Egg masses firm, gelatinous, globular, about 4 inches in diameter Innner translucent egg sac enveloped in clear (sometimes milky) matrix Masses sometimes greenish (öophilic algus) Widely distributed throughout Ohio, but becoming less common
  16. 16. Marbled Salamander – Ambystoma opacum Only autumn-breeding ambystomid Female excavates nest depression in dry pool, then Broods eggs until rains have substantially filled pool Larvae hatch in late fall and become predatory on other ambystomid larvae Female Marbled brooding eggs
  17. 17. Blue-spotted Salamander – Ambystoma laterale •Northern in distribution;Ohio endangered species •Found in Ohio only in one or a few locations in Toledo area •Often misidentified with Smallmouth, Jefferson, and sp’s (see below)
  18. 18. Smallmouth Salamander – Ambystoma texanum •Very short snout •Lower jaw equals or protrudes beyond upper •Toes relatively short •Markings climb up onto back •Lichen-like flecks bluish when young, fading with age •Earliest breeder of ambystomids •Egg clusters looser than Spotted, ~several dozen/mass •Most common ambystomid in our area (but see below) Greg Lipps
  19. 19. Jefferson Salamander – Ambystoma jeffersonianum Snout larger and toes longer than Smallmouth Bluish flecking more restricted to sides Egg cluster loose, ~cylindrical, ~200/mass Present in NE Ohio, mostly on Allegheny Plateau Absent on NW Ohio (southerly/Appalachian distribution) Likes drier woods than other ambystomids
  20. 20. Unnamed “sp” – probably Who the heck am I, anyhow? 2 Smallmouth, 1 Blue-spotted Unisexual hybrid polyploids Kellys Island Salamander: 1 tiger, 1 smallmouth, one Blue-spotted, 1 Jefferson Tremblay’s Salamander: 1 Blue-spotted, 2 Jefferson Greg Lipps Have three or more sets of chromosomes Populations are all-female No fertilization of egg by sperm, but Sperm necessary to initiate mitosis in egg Egg clusters very small (~2-10 eggs) Many genetic combinations Silvery Salamander Reproduction and science poorly understood Globally rare but no legal protection; disappearing fast!Blue-spotted, 1 Jefferson 2
  21. 21. Comparison of some different eggs Smallmouth species Eggs/mass Mass shape Mass texture egg size (mm) other Mass size (cm) inner/outer Spotted S. 60-200; few masses Globular Thick, firm 2.0 – 2.5/6-7 females deposit masses together in a clutch Jefferson S. 8-55; Ave. ~15; Cylindrical Soft 2.0 -2.1/3.5 below water surface many 2.5 D x 3.5 L (all vernal ambystomids) masses Smallmouth 4-6 (-30), but many Irregular, elongate Very loose (like raw 2.0 – 2.1/3.5 masses egg white) Unisexual hybrids (sp’s) 1 – 8 (-19); variable Irregular Very loose 2.7/5.0 Wood Frog 500-1000 Globular Firm 1.9/6.5 At surface; in 7.5-10.0 cm communal rafts Spring Peeper ~700 (-1000) elongate, ovate loose 1.1/2/5 5-10 cm below surface attached to 2-5 vegetation sp Chorus Frog 30-50 elongate, ovate loose ~1/3.4 5-10 cm below surface attached to 2-5 vegetation or on bottom Spotted W. Chorus “raft” of Wood Wood Frog Frog eggs embryo S. Peeper inner jelly “clutch” of Spotted eggs Jefferson
  22. 22. For more information: Visit www.ohioamphibians.com www.fowl.org Thanks to Greg Lipps for permission to use his photos Thanks to Greg Lipps for permission to use his photos
  23. 23. Happy Monitoring!

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