Eternally Green: This Year’s Spotted Salamander Emergence
By Joe Martinez
The amount of rainfall this Spring was the most in recent years and the Mount Auburn Cemetery spotted salamanders appeared to be pleased with it. Over twenty males and three females were observed on land and in the water during 6 nighttime visits between April 4th and April 26th. The best night was April 4th when twelve males were seen heading towards the Dell during a two and a half hour period. This was a big improvement over 2016, when a total of 8 males and no females were seen in 6 nighttime visits.
Most importantly, more egg masses were counted this year than in the previous 9 years. This year’s total was 38 and they were distributed around the shore of the Dell. The females used many shrub branches as attachment sites for the eggs. (These shrubs were intentionally planted by the grounds crew years ago for that very purpose.) This contrasts with a total of six egg masses found last year. Below is a photo of one of this year’s egg masses. The embryos inside are well-developed and close to hatching.
As I’m now living out of town and can’t visit the cemetery during week nights, my friend and colleague Matt Gage took over most of the night time viewing and did an excellent job of finding and documenting the salamanders.
Joe Martinez is Curatorial Associate, Department of Herpetology, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University.