At Conserve School students have the opportunity to learn about the ecology of the Northwoods even outside of the academic day! Every weekend there is a variety of different activities for the students to participate in. This past Saturday a group of 13 Conserve School students had the opportunity to attend a Salamander Monitoring Workshop at the North Lakeland Discovery Center. While at the Discovery Center, the students made their own traps, so that they are able to survey Conserve School’s salamander population this spring.
From the moment this weekend activity was announced, the students showed an enthusiastic interest in the opportunity to be a part of such a program. The two-hour long workshop began with some background information on Wisconsin’s salamanders. It turns out that Wisconsin is home to seven species of salamander, the Blue Spotted Salamander, the Spotted Salamander, the Eastern Tiger Salamander, the Central Newt, the Four-toed Salamander, the Red-backed Salamander, and the Mudpuppy. Students then learned that every spring a statewide salamander survey is conducted to help determine where different kinds of salamanders are or aren’t located throughout the state. The students finished out the workshop by constructing 10 salamander traps of their own.
Once the snow begins to melt (but not before it’s all melted!) and a few days before our first substantial rainfall, the students will divide the ten traps between two ephemeral pools and prepare to monitor them. The timing is important, because during this short window of time the salamanders will be on the move looking for ephemeral pools to breed in. The traps must be set and checked every morning for five consecutive days. The data will then be submitted to the statewide data pool.
The North Lakeland Discovery Center is located in Manitowish Waters, WI about an hour away from Conserve School. The Discovery Center offers a variety of different environmental education programs and monitoring projects, as well as recreational and interpretive trails.