The ephemeral pool (a.k.a. big puddle) breeding salamanders have arrived. Turns out they are spotted salamanders, Ambystoma maculata. At adulthood, they can get to 25 cm, so pretty good sized guys, for salamanders. The two rows of yellow spots over a black body give them their name. They are carnivorous and fossorial, so are mostly feared by worms and isopods and the like but seldom seen. Also they are poisonous, so don’t put them in your mouth.
Breeding in ephemeral pools is a good idea if your eggs need water and you can walk. There are lots of little invertebrates to eat in puddles, but no fish, so your young have a fighting chance of survival, fish being quite fond of amphibian eggs. A good puddle is hard to find, what with humans filling them in and all, so the spotteds will walk quite a ways to get to one, over half a mile. So we are probably protecting most of the salamander larvae for about a quarter of the county. Good thing there are an awful lot of eggs.
Now will commence the designing of a “life cycle of the spotted salamander” sampler.
“Spotted Salamander” Encyclopedia of Life, available from http://eol.org/pages/1048181/overview. Accessed March 16, 2015.