This fall, sixth grade students at Keene Middle School began their Tenant Swamp: Ecology through the Seasons investigation with Harris Center Teacher/Naturalist Laurel Swope. This month’s investigation focused on salamanders of the swamp. As part of their salamander study, the students learned how to conduct a scientific field survey for amphibians using wood “coverboards” (flat pieces of wood that mimic natural items — like logs — under which salamanders take shelter.) Laurel reports:
Our first planned trip to Tenant Swamp was blown away by Hurricane Sandy, and we had to reschedule for the cold first week of November. The students were hopeful that we would find several types of salamanders based on the habitat we would be exploring, but glum because freezing weather conditions are not promising for finding cold-blooded critters above ground.
To our surprise, when the salamander coverboards were lifted, we discovered a number of individuals of several different salamander species. One species became the ‘unknown’ species of salamander for the morning, but luckily Brett Thelen [the director of the Harris Center’s Salamander Crossing Brigade citizen science program] saved the day and confirmed our suspicions: the students had discovered Four-toed Salamanders in Tenant Swamp! These are an uncommon find in New Hampshire, but the classes uncovered four Four-toeds that day! The salamanders were photographed to send to New Hampshire Fish & Game, along with a Northern Two-lined Salamander (pictured), to document the presence of these species in the City of Keene. What an exciting find and wonderful effort by the sixth grade KMS students!