Herping at Oliver Centre

There are many Flatheaded Mayflies (Heptageniidae) flying around lately.  One was seen outside my office window today with its old exoskeleton nearby.

Leucrocuta sp.

In the afternoon, I was helping out with the herpetology class with their salamander surveys at the Oliver Ecological Centre.  The students were comparing different methods of surveying for salamanders (i.e., transects, quadrats, random walks, and cover-boards).

View from roadside.

Inside the buggy forest.

In addition to salamanders, there were also many young frogs hopping on the forest floor.

Tiny Spring Peeper (~ 10 mm)

Wood frog (Rana sylvatica)
A Wood frog (Rana sylvatica)!  Don't think I have ever seen one before, although they are well known for their ability to cope with winter by freezing (see this video).

Wood frog (Rana sylvatica)
What a beautiful mask.

In addition to frogs, there were some (not many) flowering plants.

Small jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum).  This plant has unisexual flowers, but large plants can have just male flowers, just females flowers, or both (with male flowers on top of the females on the spadix, similar to the Amorophophallus).  Meanwhile, small plants are often sterile.

Pink Trillium flowers

Bladderworts (Utricularia sp.) in one of the ponds in the forest.  Utricularia spp. are quite interesting because they are free-floating (lack roots) and have underwater leaves with "bladders" that trap and digest aquatic insects.  It would be interesting to see this plant close-up and figure out the associated structures and mechanisms.

Since I was mostly walking around and checking up on students, I didn't spent much time turning over rocks and logs and looking for salamanders (which was what the students were doing).  I managed to photograph two species.

Red-backed Salamander (red phase) (Plethodon cinereus).  Most of the salamanders I saw were quite small (compared to the adults seen last month).

Blue-spotted salamander (Ambystoma laterale)
A small Blue-spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale)

Overall, it was a great outing.  Plus, I finally submitted my thesis draft to my committee members.

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