We (Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery) would like to let you know about one of Mother Nature’s quiet – and awesome – annual spring events. It doesn’t involve ceremony, and it’s something that’s been occurring on the land since before the cemetery was founded.
We’d like to let you know about a couple amphibian species that call MHC their home. Specifically, we’d like to focus on the breeding season for the Green Frog and the Bluespotted/Jefferson Salamander Complex. (That’s a mouthful. So, for the purpose of this feature, we’re going to shorten that to “Salamander.”)
Like some mammals, amphibians hibernate in the woods during the winter. Spring is when they’re most active – and more likely to be seen. Migration to breeding areas like Sylvan Waters usually begins when the ground starts thawing and humidity increases. Breeding usually occurs during or immediately after heavy rainfall.
The Green Frog is one of the more abundant frogs in the Great Lakes region. The woody debris and grasses around Sylvan Waters provide attachment sites for egg masses. Vegetation around the edges provides cover for adults and emerging young. Unlike the mainly silent salamanders, all native frogs have distinctive voices. The Green Frog’s call has been described as a banjo-like “gunk.”
The Salamander is a burrowing or “mole” salamander. As adults, they spend much of the summer and fall under leaf litter, rotting logs, underground in small mammal burrows, and even beneath toppled headstones.
Due to pollution and the destruction of wetland habitats, many salamander and frog populations have decreased dramatically in recent years. Some species are endangered and others are threatened. While that isn’t the case with the Green Frog or the Salamander living at MHC, they still are considered protected. They should never be collected from the wild.
When you walk around Sylvan Waters, you’ll see some new signs. They remind us to be careful where we walk; to leave the landscape undisturbed. And if you see a frog or salamander in the road, carefully pick it up and carry it to a leafy or grassy area near the water. Don’t toss it into the water.
Let’s work together to ensure that these remarkable creatures, and their habitats, remain safe.