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Ohio's Amphibians - Ohio Department of Natural Resources PDF

48 Pages·2012·10.22 MB·English
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AMPHIBIANS OF OHIO f i e l d g u i d e DIVISION OF WILDLIFE INTRODUCTION Amphibians are typically shy, secre- Unlike reptiles, their skin is not scaly. Amphibian eggs must remain moist if tive animals. While a few amphibians Nor do they have claws on their toes. they are to hatch. The eggs do not have are relatively large, most are small, deli- Most amphibians prefer to come out at shells but rather are covered with a jelly- cately attractive, and brightly colored. night. like substance. Amphibians lay eggs sin- That some of these more vulnerable spe- gly, in masses, or in strings in the water The young undergo what is known cies survive at all is cause for wonder. or in some other moist place. as metamorphosis. They pass through Nearly 200 million years ago, amphib- a larval, usually aquatic, stage before As with all Ohio wildlife, the only ians were the first creatures to emerge drastically changing form and becoming real threat to their continued existence from the seas to begin life on land. The adults. is habitat degradation and destruction. term amphibian comes from the Greek Only by conserving suitable habitat to- Ohio is fortunate in having many spe- amphi, which means dual, and bios, day will we enable future generations to cies of amphibians. Although generally meaning life. While it is true that many study and enjoy Ohio’s amphibians. inconspicuous most of the year, during amphibians live a double life — spend- the breeding season, especially follow- ing part of their lives in water and the ing a warm, early spring rain, amphib- rest on land — some never go into the ians appear in great numbers seemingly water and others never leave it. out of nowhere. Those which migrate in All amphibians are cold-blooded mass to the breeding grounds are often animals with a soft, glandular, often killed in large numbers trying to cross moist skin which is capable of absorb- roads. Fortunately, however, nature for ing oxygen into the body. Amphibians the most part has endowed these little don’t drink water rather they absorb it animals with the ability to reproduce in through their skin. great numbers. Table Of CONTeNTs OHIO DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES ENDANGERED Eastern Hellbender 5 23 Northern Slimy Salamander Common Mudpuppy 6 24 Spring Salamander Red-spotted Newt 7 25 Four-toed Salamander Streamside Salamander 8 26 Midland Mud Salamander Jefferson Salamander 9 27 Northern Red Salamander ENDANGERED Blue-spotted Salamander 10 29 American Toad Spotted Salamander 11 30 Fowler’s Toad Marbled Salamander12 31 Eastern Spadefoot ENDANGERED 3 Small-mouthed Salamander13 32 Eastern Cricket Frog Eastern Tiger Salamander 14 33 Mountain Chorus Frog ENDANGERED Green Salamander15 34 Spring Peeper Northern Two-lined Salamander 16 35 Western Chorus Frog Southern Two-lined Salamander 16 36 Cope’s Gray Treefrog Long-tailed Salamander 17 36 Gray Treefrog ENDANGERED Cave Salamander 18 37 American Bullfrog Northern Dusky Salamander 19 38 Northern Green Frog Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander20 39 Pickerel Frog Eastern Red-backed Salamander21 40 Northern Leopard Frog Northern Ravine Salamander22 41 Wood Frog DIVISION OF WILDLIFE MOle salaMaNDeRs The family Ambystomatidae includes salaMaNDeRs the large, stout-bodied mole salaman- Frogs and toads make themselves ders which spend most of their lives known with their loud calling, but sal- underground. All have well-developed UNIseXUal MOle amanders are voiceless and shy. They lungs. Mole salamanders lack the naso- salaMaNDeRs often go unnoticed, but there are more labial groove. The Eastern Tiger, Spot- Ambystoma sp. salamanders in North America than in ted, Marbled, Jefferson, Blue-spotted, Length 4-7 in. (10-17.5 cm.). all the rest of the world together. They streamside and Small-mouthed Sala- In eons past, hybridization of mole prefer to spend their daylight hours manders all belong to this family. salamander species produced a diz- hiding beneath rocks or in other moist zying array of salamanders having places. They move about during breed- lUNGless salaMaNDeRs characteristics of two or more species. ing season and some congregate in Today, thousands of generations later, masses, but only for a brief time. Some The lungless salamanders of the fam- these all female salamanders use the have elaborate courting rituals. ily Plethodontidae are slender and have sperm from either Blue-spotted, Jeffer- neither gills nor lungs. Oxygen is ab- Many of Ohio’s salamanders mea- son, Smallmouthed, or Tiger salaman- sorbed through the moist skin and the sure only a few inches in length. They ders to produce offspring in a reproduc- lining of the mouth. Lungless salaman- range in color from earth tones to red, tive system that is unique to this group. ders should not be held in one’s hands orange, and yellow and often have In many cases these offspring have one, for more than a few seconds. If their skin spots, stripes, or dots. Most of Ohio’s two, or even three extra sets of chromo- should dry out, they will suffocate due to 25 species of salamanders belong to somes and can closely resemble any of their inability to absorb oxygen through either the Lungless Family (Plethod- the parental species. It is usually im- their skin. Air is drawn through the nos- ontidae) or the Mole Family (Ambys- possible to give a species name to these trils into the mouth by means of muscles tomatidae). Some salamanders retain unisexual salamanders without compli- in the throat. Some lungless salamanders gills throughout life. Others have both cated DNA analysis. They range over gills and lungs. Some start with gills will drown if submerged in water for the western two-thirds of the state and and later develop lungs. Four of these long periods of time. Members of this are the most common group of mole species have been placed on the ODNR family are also characterized by a shal- salamanders in Ohio. Division of Wildlife endangered spe- low groove, the nasolabial groove, from cies list because they are so scarce. the nostril down to the lip, although this feature is not always conspicuous. easTeRN HellbeNDeR Cryptobranchus alleganiensis Length 111/2 – 27 in. (30-51 cm.) In spite of its formidable appear- ance, the Eastern Hellbender is quite harmless. Hellbenders can reach 27” in length making it the largest am- phibian in the state. Found mostly in unglaciated (south and east) Ohio, Hellbenders prefer large, swift flow- ing streams where they hide during the day under large rocks. e Although Hellbenders have lungs, a d the major organ of oxygen/carbon di- hi c oxide exchange is the loose wrinkled n a 5 skin. Adult Hellbenders do not have br gills but they do have a single gill slit o pt located on each side of the neck. They y breed in late August or September. Cr y The female lays up to 500 eggs in a mil nest the male excavates under a large a F flat rock. Sometimes several females use the same nest. Hellbenders differ from other salamanders in that the male does not fertilize the eggs until after they have been laid. Young Hell- benders hatch in two to three months and retain their gills until they are about 11/ years old. 2 EENNDDAANNGGEERREEDD COMMON MUDpUppy Necturus maculosus Length 8–13 in. (20-33 cm.) Mudpuppies inhabit Lake Erie, large rivers, and streams, through- out Ohio. Since they are essentially nocturnal and will tolerate deep, muddy water, they are seldom seen. They feed on crayfish, aquatic insects, and just about anything else they can scavenge. Notice the broad, flattened head, the distinctive, squarish snout, tiny inconspicuous eyes, and the bushy red gills. These give the mud- e puppy a sinister appearance. Despite a d their looks, Mudpuppies are com- ei 6 pletely harmless to people. ot Pr Young Mudpuppies mature when y they are about five years old and mil a eight inches long. They never un- F dergo complete metamorphosis and retain their gills throughout life. ReD-spOTTeD NewT Notophthalmus viridescens Length 3 – 4 in. (7.5-10 cm.) Although most salamanders do not become land dwellers until they have reached a terres- trial juvenile stage, just the opposite is true with newts. About three or four months after hatch- ing, the tiny larva loses its gills, acquires lungs, and begins life on land in the Red Eft immature state. Unlike the adult newt, the eft’s bright red- orange skin is somewhat dry and rough. Its tail is rounded, much like a lizard’s, rather than wedge-shaped. e a During the next two to three years, it will for- d age on the forest floor, often wandering about dri n during the day, especially during or just after a a 7 m rain. Although it is conspicuous during this Red a Eft stage, other animals seldom bother it because al S its skin glands produce irritating secretions. y mil During the third year of its life, a remarkable a F transition occurs. The skin becomes slimy and changes from orange to olive green. The tail be- comes broad and wedge-shaped, and the body looks more like that of a salamander than a liz- ard. At this point, the salamander returns to wa- ter to breed and remains there for the rest of its life as a mature Red-spotted Newt. Newts occur sporadically throughout our state in permanent or semi-permanent bodies of water bordered by relatively undisturbed woodlands. Red Eft (immature newt) sTReaMsIDe salaMaNDeR Ambystoma barbouri Length 41/2 – 51/2 in. (11.5-14 cm.) It is almost identical to the Small- mouthed Salamander in appearance, but differs in several small, important characteristics. Unlike most members of this family, the streamside prefers to breed in headwater streams lack- ing predatory fish, rather than ponds. Eggs are attached singly to the un- derside of rocks in the stream. The Streamside Salamander occurs only e in southwestern Ohio and is often da seen crossing roads to enter streams ati in February and March. mE 8 ystoOL b mM A y mil a F JeffeRsON salaMaNDeR Ambystoma jeffersonianum Length 41/2 – 7 in. (11.5-17.5 cm.) This salamander looks somewhat like the spotted salamander species without the yellow spots. Notice, however, the long toes and the sprin- kling of small silver-blue specks con- centrated on the sides of the body on younger specimens. It lives in moist woodlands throughout most of the state. It is very secretive and seldom seen ex- ae cshepaltl oinw ewaorloyd lsapnrdin bgr ewedhienng pito nendtse.rs matidE 9 The Jefferson Salamander was ystoOL named in honor of Jefferson College, b mM and hence, indirectly for Thomas Jef- A ferson. He was not only a famous y statesman and president, but was mil a also an accomplished naturalist. F blUe-spOTTeD salaMaNDeR Ambystoma laterale Length 4 – 6 in. (10-15 cm.) The Blue-spotted Salamander very closely resembles the Jefferson Sala- mander in appearance. However, it can usually be identified by a profu- sion of blue flecks on its bluish-black body. This produces an impression of the coloration of old-fashioned enamelware. The Jefferson Salaman- der has relatively few bluish flecks and these are, for the most part, con- e fined along the creature’s sides. Blue- a d spotted Salamanders are only found ati in a few locations in extreme north- mE oL 10 western counties. The Blue-spotted ystO Salamander is part of a complex of b mM all-female populations that have ge- A netic contributions from two or more y species, including Jefferson, Small- mil a mouthed, and (occasionally) Tiger F Salamanders. These individuals often have more than the usual two sets of chromosomes and outward charac- teristics of one or more of these spe- cies. All of these “unisexual salaman- ders” have some of the genes of the Blue-spotted Salamander, however, so some amount of blue-flecking is often visible. EENNDDAANNGGEERREEDD

While a few amphibians are relatively large, most are small, deli- cately attractive, and brightly colored. That some of these more vulnerable spe- cies survive at
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