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Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Blog

I am an ecologist with a focus on amphibian ecology.  I work on a variety of projects, some that are relatively esoteric questions of pure scientific inquiry, while other projects are based on ecology as it applies to conservation.  I wanted to start this blog as a way to share my passion and interesting research findings.  I thought about calling this the Frog Blog but decided that was a bit too narrow.  I plan to share any interesting finds that I come across relating to the diversity of life on earth, hence the title of my blog.  Most of the postings will probably relate to vertebrates but could be about anything related to ecology, evolution, or behavior I find interesting.  The title is also a bit of a tribute to one of my favorite books, "The Diversity of Life" by E.O. Wilson.

Today I will leave you with an interesting bit of information related to my dissertation research.  A study published in 1975 by Burton and Likens found that the total mass (i.e. weight) of all the salamanders in a New Hampshire forest was TWICE the mass of all the passerine birds in the forest during the peak of bird breeding.  The mass of all the salamanders was equal to all of the small mammals in the forest (e.g. mice, shrews, moles, fox, opossums, raccoons, coyotes, etc.) - excluding deer, moose, and bear.  They estimated approximately 3,000 salamanders per hectare (100m x 100m square) and I am finding that I may have nearly 10 times that many on my sites in southeast New Hampshire.  Who knew there were so many salamanders crawling around underfoot!  You can look for them under logs or on rainy nights in the spring or fall but otherwise they primarily stay hidden underground.

Plethodon cinereus (red-backed salamander) showing rare tan-striped color morph

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