Jean has been out and about again…this time on the hunt for salamanders!

Getting the traps ready

Last year, Margaret asked a question I had never even thought about. Why don’t we see salamanders here? Until recently, with the creation of the north ephemeral pool and the prairie pothole, the answer may have had a bit to do with lack of reproductive habitat. The Lynch wetland is full of predacious fish and birds, making it difficult for salamanders to reproduce there. But the prairie should have provided good habitat for mature salamanders. The real answer probably lies in the intensive agriculture that took place here for years. But before we set about reintroducing the tiger salamander, we wanted to establish that they actually aren’t here.

Christopher wades in to set the traps

Don brought out his minnow traps and showed Margaret, Joe, Christopher and I how to use them. Basically, they are little metal screen buckets that snap together, with a funnel on either end. The funnel is submerged just beneath the surface, allowing plenty of space above it for animals to access air if they need to.

Critters, including fish, frogs, snakes and salamanders funnel in and have trouble finding the way back out. Daily checks will provide a record of what species live in the water. Christopher volunteered to go out into the water and set the traps for us. He set some in the north ephemeral pool and some in the Lynch wetland shallows. We don’t actually expect evidence of salamanders at the Lynch wetland, but it has been so dry since we established the prairie pothole that there wasn’t enough water there to place the funnel underneath the water.

Marsh marigolds in bloom

I was delighted to find the marsh marigolds we planted last year were blooming at the prairie pothole. I wasn’t really expecting that, because it has been so dry there. It’s the first time I’ve seen them on the property.

~Jean Wiedenheft

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