Amphibian Encouragement
Spring Salamander

Maybe they won’t be quite as fast to disappear from the scene as the climate warms–according to a recent study.

Salamanders show more resistance to global warming than previously believed

As a life-long resident of the southern Appalachians, you might say that my totem creature is the salamander. No place on earth boasts the diversity and the numbers to be found in a typical, intact mountain forest. The statistics are quite eye-opening:

“No one really knows how many salamanders reside in the southern Appalachians. However, it is estimated that the salamanders inhabiting just a square mile of forest would have a combined biomass of 2,500 to 5,000 pounds–which is made even more impressive when you consider that many salamanders weigh about as much as a teaspoon of sugar.”

I took herpetology my first semester in graduate school. Ann wasn’t too keen on the snakes that stayed in the clothes hamper overnight until I could claim credit-points for them. But the frogs and salamanders in south Alabama (Auburn U) were present in amazing diversity, and it is from those warm wet nights in the forest that most of my herpetophilia was born.

When is the last time you saw a salamander? Summer is not a great time to look during the day, but on a wet night with a flashlight, you might be rewarded by a good bit of activity if you look in the right place.

We have a hard time caring about things we never see. Maybe if we looked harder and kept our eyes open, we’d care more about a lot of living things we manage to be unaware of.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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