To accommodate construction, Shaver's Creek Environmental Center will be closed Tuesday, May 28, through Thursday, May 30.

It’s a great time to be a salamander

No, wait, that’s not quite right – it’s a great time to be a Wildlife & Fisheries student.


For the past two days, students from WFS 310 have been getting their feet wet in the water of Shaver’s Creek for a herp survey!  (If you’re not familiar with the term, “herp” is short for herpetology, the study of reptiles and amphibians.)  Upon hearing that several dozen students were getting some field practice in collecting data on salamanders, I decided to take a stroll and check out what they were finding.

Northern Duskies!  Red Spotted Newts!  Northern Springs!  I wasn’t exactly sure where the group was located, but as soon as I heard yelps of “I found one!” and “Hand me that field guide!” I knew I was headed in the right direction.  When I came upon the scene, I saw a flurry of rainboots, waders, and bare feet carefully examining the stream.  I spoke with the instructor, Sarah Hurteau, about how exactly her students were performing this survey.  She explained that three different techniques were to be performed: a visual survey, an area-limited survey (a one meter band of the stream), and a time-limited survey (how many can you find in 15 minutes?), and that the results would be compared at the end. 

WFS 310 – technically “Wildlife & Fisheries Measurements” – actually get to survey a variety of animals, including squirrels, birds, turtles, and fish.  Sarah noted that the learning did not end after leaving the site: after collecting the data, her class will learn how to use it in pragmatic and realistic ways.  Based on the enthusiasm of the class, it seems likely that these students are ready to excel at surveying. 

But I know for certain that we have a multitude of salamanders in the streams surrounding Shaver’s Creek.  Come on over and check them out for yourself!  Shaver’s Creek is always glad to have other faculty and students utilize our facility, fields, and forest for research and study.

–Rutabaga, Fall Intern 2011

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