Project Title: Salamander Restoration
Project Participant(s): Tiffany Green, Milagros Green (cousin), Sara Starxyk (roommate)
Description and Overview of Project:
I had a hard time coming up with a topic for my project. But Krygier pointed me towards Amy Downing—who is a zoology professor at OWU—and she talked to me about a little wood area next to the bike trail by the football stadium. It was once a place where Ohio Wesleyan University would dump trash; but still before they started building the tennis courts near the 3D art building, you used to be able to find dozens of salamanders. Krygier then pointed out that they might not even be there anymore, because salamanders like cool moist places, where the water is stagnant—non moving. Not too long ago they took down the dams on the Olentangy river, and so the water in this wooded area might have all drained out when the river’s level dropped. Also, Salamanders are really sensitive to noise and vibrations, and the construction of the tennis courts might have also caused them to move.
On September 28th I decided to see for myself if there really were no longer any salamander’s in the area. I Invited my cousin Mili to go with me—cause she owned a camera, and was really interested in seeing some salamanders. We made our way down the bike trail, and proceeded to push our way through the thick trees and bush, to see what we could find. Behind the trees is a huge hill that we needed to slide down in order to get to where the salamanders might be—and since it rained a lot during the day, we got pretty filthy. At the bottom of the hill though, I started to feel a little bit more optimistic because there in front of us was a tinny stream was making its way through the underbrush. Problem was, the water wasn’t exactly still, but at least there was some water.
It was actually really beautiful down there, but the trash that littered the area certainly took away from the visual pleasantry. There were glass bottles, cookie wrappers, what looked like a tricycle wheel, and even a pair of rusted through 50 gallon drums (there were no grave yard stones that I could tell).
We looked under many rocks and rotting tree trunks, but for a while we couldn’t find anything. We were starting to become discouraged, maybe all the salamanders really did leave. It wasn’t until we got a little bit farther away from where the stream flowed, that we uncovered two salamanders under the same rock. Both were small and Mili at first thought they were worms because their legs were so tinny that you could barely see them when they were on the ground. Both were black, but one had an orange-brown stripe down her back. Later on we were able to uncover one more salamander—also all black.
Outline of Project:
First I need to coordinate with the Buildings and Grounds and see if they have any concerns regarding my removing the garbage and trash from the area. I would also need to see if they could help me remove some of the larger pieces of trash.
I would like to add in more rocks and clay pots in the area where salamanders could hide under.
Buildings and Grounds—if they agree—could help with this process since they can bring in some of the heavier rocks and stones.
When talking to Downing—after I found the salamanders in the area—she told me that in order to really calculate the affect my efforts will have on the salamanders, I need to come up with an estimate of how many salamanders there really are in the area. I plan to go back before everything takes place and find as many salamanders as I can, then bring the number to Downing where we can work together and find out around how many salamanders are in the whole woods. If someone continues this project they can use this number to then see if there has been an increase in the number of salamanders.
If I find that there are not many salamanders in the location, this could lead to inbreeding. Inbreeding causes deleterious recessive alleles to show themselves in offspring and often has harmful side-effects on the population overall. So in later years, if the population doesn’t seem to be going up, salamanders from other locations can be caught and released into the habitat so that new alleles can be added to the population overall. This should help if there is any inbreeding going on within the area, and should show improvements to the population numbers.
After looking at lots of pictures and descriptions of salamanders located in and around Delaware Ohio, I believe that the species of salamander we found are called red-backed salamanders or Plethodon cinereus . They are the most common type of salamander species found in Ohio, but are and endemic species to North America. The Terrestrial adults spend most of their life underground in burrows either of their own making of abandoned by other animals, they also hibernate in them during the winter. They live alone and feed on any available invertebrates that they might find. They rarely spend time in the water, and only return there to their ponds of birth to breed. They lay large eggs in clumps within the water, and their aquatic larvae have 3 pairs of external gills behind their head and above their gill slits. The larvae grow limbs soon after hatching with four toes on the four-arms and five on the hind-legs. Their eyes are wide set and lack eyelids.
“Mole salamander.” Wikipedia the encyclopedia . Wikimedia Foundation.inc, 14 Sept 2012. Web. 3 Oct 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mole_salamander>.
—Gives information about Mole salamander species.
Cunningham, Bridget . “Olentangy makeover to restore river, remove dam.” The Lantern . N.p., 16 Jun 2012. Web. 03 Oct 2012. <http://www.thelantern.com/campus/olentangy-makeover-to-restore-r iver-remove-dam-1.1485939 >.
—Information about the removal of dams from Olentangy River.
Rice, Dorothy. “State Water Resources Control Board General 401 water quality certification order for small habitat restoration projects.” . State Water Resources Control Board, 10 Aug 2007. Web. 3 Oct 2012. <http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/cwa401/docs/generalorders/
–What constitutes a restoration project.
“Habitat Restoration Wesselman Woods Salamander Monitoring.” Evansville’s Zoo. Evansville’s Zoo, n.d. Web. 3 Oct 2012. <http://www.meskerparkzoo.com/conservation/Habitat Restoration.php>.
–Example of Restoration project with Salamanders.
Rhoads, John. “Norton Basin/Little Bay Restoration Project: Historical and Environmental Background Report.” . Barry A Vittor & Associates Inc. , Nov 2001. Web. 3 Oct 2012. <http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/regions_pdf/vittor01.pdf>.
–Example of Restoration Project.
“Ohio’s Salamander Species.” Ohio’s Salamander Species. N.p., 23 Jan 2010. Web. 3 Oct 2012. <http://www.ohioamphibians.com/salamanders/Salamanders.html>.
–Species of Salamanders.
Bowles, Mason. “Examples of past projects Small Habitat Restoration Program (SHRP).” Animal Plants and Habitat. Water & Land Resources Division, 8 Jan 2009. Web. 3 Oct 2012. <http://www.kingcounty.gov/environment/animalsAndPlants/restoration-projects/small-habitat-r estoration-program/current.asp&xgt;>.
–More examples of Restoration Projects.
. “Salamanders.” eHow. Demand Media Inc. , n.d. Web. 3 Oct 2012. <http://www.ehow.com/salamanders/>.
–Answers all kind of questions about salamanders.