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Amphibians in the Biosphere

By: Angela Vander Eyken, Landscape Conservation Programs Coordinator

Delightful Discoveries in Vernal Pools

Last week, our staff surveyed vernal pools – small, seasonal depressions with water – in search of amphibian species. And boy, were they in for a treat! Amphibians are cold-blooded vertebrates that typically begin their life cycle in water and have a terrestrial, or land, stage. Common amphibians found in the Biosphere region include frogs, toads, and salamanders. Amidst the small pools, some of which were no larger than your kitchen table, they identified four species of amphibians: an adult Eastern Newt, a Spring Peeper, a Green Frog, and even a larval Spotted Salamander were all dwelling harmoniously within the tiny aquatic oasis.

Spotted Salamander

Most salamander species have life cycles very similar to frogs, in which they hatch out of soft eggs as tadpole-like creatures in water. The Spotted Salamander larva we found was a mere centimetre in length. It was equipped with a magnificent tail for graceful swimming, delicate external gills for underwater breathing, and fleshy projections known as balancers which help keep it upright in water. This Spotted Salamander’s survival during its larval stage is reliant on the vernal pool. The forecasted rainfall and cooler temperatures are good news as it reduces the risk of the pool evaporating. In the coming two to four months, they will sprout legs and bid farewell to their gills, transitioning onto solid ground  – that is if these little creatures can evade the ever-watchful eyes of its neighbouring Eastern Newt and frog pals, of course!

In the fall, they will find a burrow where they can stay warm for the winter. Since salamanders need to always stay damp, they tend to travel at night, when sunlight can’t evaporate the moisture on their skin. Come spring, they take a great journey, often trekking several hundred metres to a breeding wetland.

The salamander migration path can cross roads and parking lots, which can be very dangerous! Keep an eye out for salamanders on the ground, and consider giving them a helping hand across the street if it is safe to do so.

Spotted Salamanders live 20-30 years, playing a vital role in the forest ecosystem as both predator and prey. It’s truly awe-inspiring to witness nature’s delicate balance in action.

Pest Control

Did you know that amphibians, especially salamanders, make for incredible natural pest controllers? They have an insatiable appetite for mosquito larvae, devouring up to a staggering 900 of these insects in just a single day! It is incredible that humble vernal pools can harbour such biodiversity.

Get Involved

Be a community scientist and record your amphibian sightings! Your observations can help to identify and monitor populations, and track species distributions and spatial trends, over time. Join the Georgian Bay Biosphere iNaturalist project to show us your observations.

If you are interested in learning more about these fascinating creatures in the field, you can sign up to participate in our Amphibian Bioblitz on June 29th. Register and find out more information at:

Let’s celebrate the extraordinary wonders of amphibians together!

Staff using a specialized dip net to skim the bottom of a vernal pool for amphibians.
From left to right: Larval Spotted Salamander, Green Frog
From left to right: Eastern Newt, Spring Peeper

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