2011 Student Conclave – Herpetological Trip – March 2011

Del Norte Salamander

If there is anything that California can boast about, it would have to be the great diversity of herps (lizards, skinks, turtles, snakes, newts, and salamanders) that begin appearing as you move West from the Sierra Nevada Mountains into the damp forests of the Coastal Range.  Western toads, Del Norte salamanders, Pacific giant salamanders, Northern aligator lizards, and rough-skinned newts were only some of the species seen on our herping field day. In the redwood forests near Humboldt State, moist and shady forest floors are perfect habitats for amphibian species, which we were able to observe and handle thanks to the researchers who shared their knowlegde of life history traits and species information for everything we picked up. In a pond nearby, we were shown newts, egg sacks, and a few garter snakes that hunted along the pond’s shorelines. In another area, researchers had purposefully left plies of old wood of different sizes along an open meadow; they were looking at the sizes and stacking patterns wood blocks and comparing it with the number of amphibian species found in each pile to determine which type of artificial habitat was the most benificial.

Rough skinned newt

Despite a few splinters, we were excited to find more than 5 species of lizards and an abundance of pacific treefrogs, Hyla regilla. Pacific treefrogs were everywhere on this trip; students had to watch their steps to avoid stepping on them. We would have to search for days in Nevada to find a fraction of what we did in that short trip. This part Concave was to me the most important: I had the chance to explore a new ecosystem with fellow students and researchers as we observed our surroundings from a biological perspective without having to put our noses in field guides for every species encounter.

Egg sack of the Rough skinned newt

Jade Keehn

Western alligator lizard

Common garter snake

Those orange hats in the background are looking for salamanders while we wait to see them.

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