Allegheny mountain dusky salamander, Covey hill (Photo by Frédéric Lelièvre)

Allegheny mountain dusky salamander, Covey hill (Photo by Frédéric Lelièvre)

Rolling hills make for great habitat in Quebec

Green Cascades, Covey Hill, Quebec (Photo by David M. Green)

Green Cascades, Covey Hill, Quebec (Photo by David M. Green)

Deep in the rolling knolls of Covey Hill, a haven for wildlife along the Canada-U.S. border, underground water sources are flowing through the land’s surface. These yawning streams and rivers provide habitat for some of Canada’s most elusive species, including the Allegheny mountain dusky salamander.

This salamander is only found in two places in Canada: Covey Hill in Montérégie and near the Niagara Escarpment in Ontario. It is designated as threatened in Quebec and listed under Canada's Species at Risk Act.

The Allegheny mountain dusky salamander has no lungs. Instead, it breathes through its skin and palate. As it is a stream salamander, it's important to protect the water where this species lives, to ensure it has a place to find food, reproduce and move around. This species is very sensitive to changes in its habitat, including changes in stream flow, water quality and quantity. Pollution also effects the survival of salamander larvae.

Not only is water important to the survival of these salamanders, but quality forest habitat and well-protected areas between water play a role too.

Covey Hill is home to one of the Montérégie’s rare surviving unfragmented forests. Its trees grow in clusters, providing dense forest cover that shelters the pristine groundwater, protects ground humidity and prevents rising temperatures in the waters below. Leaves and branches accumulated on the forest floor filter rainwater and provide hideouts for salamanders. In addition, the roots of trees and plants minimize erosion and sedimentation that might otherwise affect the water quality of the streams inhabited by salamanders.

A 133-acre (54-hectare) peat bog at the top of Covey Hill also helps sustain salamander populations. Rainwater is stored between the layers of moss. This water has collected over thousands of years and contributes to overall water flow in the area. This is particularly important during periods of drought.

Through conservation agreements, donations and the sale of property to NCC, several families have already helped protect 1,300 acres (526 hectares) on Covey Hill. NCC and our partners continue to monitor salamander populations on Covey Hill. The partners are also studying how peatlands affect water flow and influence habitat for this species.

To learn more about Covey Hill, click here.

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