The selection of a site to carry out the pond-breeding salamander survey is very important, as this site will be surveyed indefinitely for years to come to monitor the status of Ohio’s salamanders. Selected sites for monitoring should be located within a protected area, such as a preserve, park, or forest.
It is best to select a site in the year prior to commencing the survey. In general, the most productive sites for surveying Ohio’s pond-breeding salamanders will be in vernal (temporary) pools located within or immediately adjacent to a forest. One exception to this is in northwestern Ohio, where the Blue-spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale) will often use more open situations, such as wet prairies. The body of water should, in a typical year, hold water into the month of July, allowing for the successful metamorphosis of the larvae. Permanent water sources may be utilized for monitoring, if salamanders are known to use the site. It should be noted, however, that permanent water sources contain more invertebrate predators of salamanders and their larvae, and the addition of predatory fish (bluegill, bass, crappie, etc.) usually excludes the salamanders from using the pond for breeding. Most park naturalists and land managers know of areas utilized by salamanders for breeding, and so site selection should not be a problem. If you have questions about the suitability of the site for monitoring, contact the survey coordinator.
Prior to beginning your survey, you will need to fill out the data sheet titled “Site Description.” Instructions for completing the Site Description are included. Fill in the appropriate information concerning the site, including a rough sketch of the site to be monitored. Measurement of the pond perimeter should be made as described below. The Site Description only needs to be completed once, and the surveyors should make a copy of the sheet for their own records prior to mailing the original form to the survey coordinator.
Measuring the Pond
Prior to the first survey, you will need to mark the sites for trap placement around the pond or wetland being surveyed. Traps are to be placed in a systematic manner around the pond and equidistant from each other. To do this, first measure the perimeter of the pond by counting the number of paces required to completely circle the water. Alternatively, if you have a measuring wheel available, use this to obtain a more accurate measurement. Record the perimeter of the pond (being sure to note the unit of measurement) on the Site Description data sheet. As water levels may change greatly throughout the year, the perimeter of the pond should be measured no more than one week prior to the first survey.
Next, divide the perimeter of the pond by 10 to obtain the distance between each trap. Record this information as indicated on the data sheet. Finally, beginning at your starting point, place a flag or piece of survey tape at each location where a trap will be placed. The traps will be placed at these marked locations for all three surveys. For example, a pond with a perimeter of 110 paces will have a flag or marker every 11 paces around the pond. Included a sketch of the pond and trap locations on the data sheet where indicated.