Winter Sampling

Wetland 45 in the winter

Penny and Michelle did the final sampling event for the year on Saturday. It was drizzly, but we managed to miss the rain. There were freezes earlier in the week, so the water was cold! Surprisingly, the pond level was the lowest we’ve seen it, and was less than 3 feet deep in the middle. There was a thick mat of grass around the edges of the pond. The first thing we found was cricket frogs - lots of them. The colors varied from dark brown and light brown, to greenish with a tan Y.

Cricket Frog

Cricket Frog

We netted most of the exposed part of the water, as the grassy mat made it too hard to net. Most of the vegetation was dead, including slimy lily pads. We managed to spot one large adult mole salamander. From the net we also gathered dragonfly larvae, and a couple spiders. No other amphibians were seen. The cold water and weather may have impacted the number of amphibians inhabiting the pond.

Mole Salamander

We really enjoyed sampling the pond, and learned quite a bit about the local amphibian population, and their seasonal changes. Wetland 45 doesn’t have much variety, but it appears to be a typical example of local wetlands.

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Wetland 45 Summer Monitoring

We tried to sample earlier, but had to battle rain, so we went July 1, and battled heat. It hadn’t rained in a while, but our pond was full from the earlier heavy rains.

While we didn’t find any salamanders (I suspect they were deeper), we were excited to find lots of tadpoles. The challenge became telling the little critters apart! After comparing many pictures, and tiny characteristics, we worked out a system of the most common species in our pond. The first barking tree frog was unrecognizable, because it was the size of a candy Nerd. All we could see was the coil intestine, lateral eyes, and black markings on the head. After that, we found tons of barking tree frogs! We also found an abundance of Southern chorus frogs which have copper bellies, and Southern cricket frogs which have a definitive black tipped tail. We named a couple other larvae, but it’s hard to say if they were different species, or if we were too novice to tell the difference.

Next time we’ll bring a camera, to document those characteristics. We’re learning the frog calls, so we can use those in our survey.

Beware of unwanted stragglers - we found a leech and a tick under our clothes after sampling.

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Wetland 45 spring monitoring

This gallery contains 11 photos.

The Salamander Seekers (Penny, Jen and Michelle) visited Wetland 45 in March for the first monitoring event. We spotted healthy numbers of mole salamanders and southern cricket frogs. Two of the salamanders were missing limbs, a tail and a hind leg, … Continue reading

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Lithobates Tadpoles

The next few weeks will be ideal for dipnetting the Munson Sandhill wetlands.  The winter-breeding amphibian larvae will be nice and large, easier to identify!   We have found gopher frog tadpoles in quite a few wetlands and I thought it would be good to provide a few details for identifying Lithobates tadpoles.

Remember Lithobates is the genus for the true frogs.  The tadpoles have eyes toward the top of their head, not on the sides like the other tadpoles.   The species you may encounter include bullfrog, gopher frog, pig frog, and southern leopard frog.

If your tadpole is green it could either be a bullfrog or a gopher frog.  Gopher frog tadpoles are not always green, but usually they are a yellowish greenish color.  They have spotted tails so that’s a good ID clue.

Gopher frog - yellowish green with a spotted tail

Bullfrogs usually have what looks like stitching along their body.  They, too, have spots but they are like tiny dots.  So if you have a greenish tadpole with spots = gopher frog.  Greenish tadpole with stitching and tiny dots = bullfrog.

Bullfrog tadpoles are bright green, huge, have stitching on body and tiny, scattered dots on tail.

Pig frogs will have spotted tails but the spots will be in a line along the tail fin.

Pig frog tadpole tail fins have a row of spots along the top.

Southern leopard frog tadpoles are usually dark in color and spotted, but they greatly vary.  Look for the white mustache and/or the vertical white line down the snout.  Sorry we don’t have a great picture of this…

Southern leopard frog tadpoles have a white mustache.


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The Striped Newts are In!

This week we released 131 captive-bred newts of various life stages into two wetlands in the Munson Sandhills.

For those of you who adopted Wetlands 12, 15, 20, 26, 48, and 73 keep your eyes out.  Its possible once the striped newts leave their repatriation wetlands, they could migrate to your wetlands.


So far none of the newts have left the wetlands.  This is actually a good thing as we would like them to imprint on their wetland for a while so they are more likely to return to the same one next year.  We’ll keep you posted!

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Ephemeral Pond No. 5 Recon Visit 2/9/14 - WOW!

A little video update  from the Vroegops on Ephemeral Pond #5 in the ANF Munson Sandhills off L.L. Wallace. I just couldn’t wait to see it, so I drove out in the rain on Saturday a.m., the 8th. It looked BIG! But it was raining too hard, and my “team” wasn’t with me, so I didn’t get out and walk around. The team and I returned the next day under beautiful skies, and we walked all around it—even had a little picnic. Such an awesomely beautiful place! We’ll be back next weekend, with our dip nets and our waders on!! Robin

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Mole Salamanders from wetland 54

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We are the Broadways and adopted Ephemeral Wetland 54

We sampled our wetland today and were thrilled to find several species - frogs, salamanders, snakes, crawfish, dragonfly larva, and many other insects.   The weather was gorgeous and we can’t wait to go back!

Mole Salamander

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Video of training session Vroegops/Broadway Family Posted on youtube

I finally had time to edit and upload the video I took during January 22nd training session which included the Vroegop Family (me & Mike) and the Broadway Family (John, Kristen,Johnna, & Mason).

We will probably be adding to that as we go forward with our monitoring program. Thanks, Robin Rickel Vroegop

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IDing tadpoles

When you are dipnetting in the Munson Sandhills and come across a tadpole, here are some questions  to help narrow down your species.

Are the eyes toward the top of the head (like the pic) or more along the side?  If toward the top, look at the Lithobates section (bullfrog, gopher frog, southern leopard frog, pig frog).  If not, ask the next question.

Is your tadpole small, black, and round?  If yes, look in the Anaxyrus section (oak toad, southern toad).  But note:  if its a dark body that is squarish with a pointed snout,  you have an eastern narrowmouth toad.  If none of the above, ask the next question.

Does your tadpole have a long flagellum?  That’s the tail like structure at the end of the tail fin (like the pic).  If yes, you likely have a treefrog so check out the Hyla section.  If not, look in the middle section at the Acris  (black tipped tail) and Pseudacris.

That should get in the right section of your field guide, anyway.  Once you understand the major groupings, you can look at the individual descriptions and compare and contrast.  Hope this helps!

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