Update: Four-toed salamander discovery on NCC property in Quebec

Four-toed salamander (Photo by Brian Gratwicke)

Four-toed salamander (Photo by Brian Gratwicke)

October 8, 2015 | by Caroline Gagné

Last year, I wrote about the discovery of four-toed salamanders on one of the Nature Conservancy of Canada's (NCC's) properties during a team retreat. Since then, great efforts have been made to learn more about the wetlands on the property that shelter frogs, toads, salamanders and other amphibians.

This summer, using satellite images and field trips, researchers from the Sainte-Foy Forestry Teaching and Research Centre, in collaboration with NCC and the Kenauk Institute, set out to map these habitats, also known as vernal pools, which are essential for the reproduction of several species. The work is ongoing and our knowledge of amphibians on the property is improving.

This new information will be very useful for the protection of amphibians like the four-toed salamander!

A recap of our discovery last year:

On June 6, 2014 during a retreat attended by several members of the Quebec team (Joël Bonin, Julien Poisson, Carine Deland, Caroline Tanguay, Lucie Veillette, Marie-Andrée Tougas-Tellier, Gabrielle Cauchon-Déry and Caroline Gagné), the challenge was to find four-toed salamanders in a potential area pre-selected for its natural conditions: a slightly open wetland with shallow water and sphagnum.

The four-toed salamander discovered during our retreat. (Photo by NCC)

The four-toed salamander discovered during our retreat. (Photo by NCC)

We combed through the ash woodland for almost 45 minutes, using the search technique of gently parting the sphagnum moss to spot eggs or a salamander (or both) without disturbing the habitat too much. Within the first few minutes, Carine found a red-backed salamander, a common species in Quebec. After that, we seemed to have no luck finding anything other than small insects or frogs. Just when the time assigned to the activity had nearly run out, our chief salamander expert, Joël Bonin, shouted out that he had caught one in the sphagnum. The whole team gathered around to admire this rare species, before heading back to the trail.

Our hardy group of explorers. (Photo by NCC)

Our hardy group of explorers. (Photo by NCC)

It was while we were leaving the wetland, walking through the water, that a second individual was spotted on the side of the trail…by none other than Joël Bonin, once again.

Finding the four-toed salamander in this area helps us become more familiar with the property, identifies a sensitive habitat, and adds to our knowledge regarding the distribution of this species in Quebec.

Caroline Gagné (Photo by Sylvain Giguère)

About the Author

Caroline Gagné is the the program director for western Quebec at the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Read more about Caroline Gagné.

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