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©2016 Northeastern WI Audubon Society, Inc.


Salamander Monitoring

For 6 years, NE WI Audubon coordinated annual salamander surveys in the northeastern region of Wisconsin for the Wisconsin Salamander Survey. The WSS is recognized as a valuable statewide project by WDNR and researchers, thanks to all the volunteer monitors. In 2013 the survey structure was changed, with limited sites selected for ongoing surveys and coordination statewide by Randy Korb. Some of our volunteers have continued under the new structure.

Wisconsin has six terrestrial salamanders and one aquatic, the mudpuppy. Monitors are especially interested in documenting the presence of eastern newts and three species of salamanders that breed in ephemeral woodland pools-the blue-spotted, spotted and tiger salamanders.


If you would like to know whether you have good wetlands for salamanders, check out Maine Audubon. They received a Together Green grant to get citizens involved in vernal pool/ephemeral pond protection. They have several well-written guides linked in the Resources section at the bottom of this site.

2013 results. 2011 results. 2010 results.

This is catch-and-release monitoring. Monitors need to make a commitment for 5 consecutive mornings. Traps must be checked each morning to safeguard salamander health. Monitors will be given training in identification of salamanders and frogs (which may also enter the traps).

juvenile salamanderThis juvenile salamander, at the end of June, has developed its legs but hasn't lost its gills yet. In a couple more weeks it will be ready to leave the water. In 2008, a July survey was held to monitor for presence of juveniles before they left the ponds.


2008 marked the first year of the Wisconsin Salamander Survey (WSS,) a joint initiative of the Wisconsin Audubon Council, Inc. and the Citizen-based Monitoring Network of Wisconsin. Nearly all of the 52 volunteer citizen monitors were members of one of 15 Audubon chapters throughout the state. Nine chapter coordinators worked directly with their monitors to supply them with traps, data sheets, training information, and answer questions or concerns. Wisconsin Audubon received a small grant from the Citizen-based Monitoring Network of Wisconsin to pay for project expenses. This survey brings attention to these secretive creatures, gives wildlife managers much-needed distribution data, and promotes the value of wetlands and woodland pools.

Salamanders at risk?

Last year one of the monitors found a�salamander with two tails. DNR officials were glad to get data on such problems, noting that Indiana and Kentucky were finding quite a few. Nick, a Green Bay teen who has raised salamanders, wasn�t concerned �It�s not the water�I�ve seen two tails before with salamanders who�ve regrown a lost tail.� After a pause he continued�more soberly �Of course, I didn�t test the tap water used in my tanks.�

two-tailed blue spotted salamander

While the WI Salamander Survey was begun to help determine if there is a problem with salamanders, loss of habitat is more likely to be a�problem than water pollution. Most salamanders need both fish-free ponds for their eggs and young, and woods for the adults. A pond surrounded by a manicured lawn is of little use to them. They prefer wooded ephemeral ponds, those that dry up most summers. And that is the type of wetlands that doesn�t seem to be valued by humans. Although most salamanders have lungs, they get most of their oxygen through their skin, and must stay moist to do so. Leaf litter and downed dead wood are important to shelter them from the drying effects of the sun. Leave a little untidiness in nature, the salamanders will thank you.


2013 Results

Carl monitored the Shivering Sands Wetland Complex as the largest unbroken natural area in Door County. It is an ideal habitat for these environmentally blooded (cold blooded) creatures that are very important in the web of life. This year he set traps April 26-30 (4 weeks later than in 2012). Numbers were much decreased from previous years for all species. Although he knows both mudpuppies and redbacked salamanders are present there, they don't show up on the survey because they don't breed in ephemeral ponds. He has provided a tabulation of his last 5 years.

5 Yr Salamander Monitoring-Shivering Sands
  2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
Blue Spotted Salamanders 21 170 67 103 188
Spotted Salamanders 5 37 26 30 0
Wood Frogs 62 328 187 347 1
giant water beetles 3 8 7 3 20
Crayfish 3 2 9 2 1
leeches 0 0 1 2 0
egg masses 1 1 0 1 0
Mud Minnows 1 0 12 0 0


2011 Results

2011 was not an impressive year for salamander monitoring.Nick was the only monitor in our area to trap salamanders--4 of his traps had Blue-Spotted, including one night with a total of 10. For the rest, Addie and her son had frogs and tadpoles at Bubolz, Jess was flooded out at Mosquito Hill, Ed had only a water beetle near Heritage Hill State Park, and Juniper only a single Wood Frog and Leopard Frog (along with hundreds of small fish) at different Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary wetlands.

2010 results

Thank you to all the volunteers who helped monitor wetland pools and ephemeral ponds for salamanders in spring of 2010. It was, as always, an exciting time trying to guess when the salamanders would start moving from their winter spots to the breeding ponds.

A number of volunteers from last year participated:
Carl, as always, was our anchor pin in the Shivering Sands area of Door County. For the first time he had Spotted Salamanders in addition to the Blue-Spotted Salamanders that are usually present, and was glad to see the wood frog population rebound (347 of them).

Addie and her son were able to coordinate their schedule with the salamanders at Bubolz this year after a slow start in 2009, but still didn't get any in their traps. They did find plenty of minnows and bugs to make it interesting enough that they monitored for both an early and later rain period.

salamander monitoring at Bubolz Hunter writes monitoring results

Jess tried again at Mosquito Hill, but the ephemeral ponds dried up before the spring rains, so no luck there. She'll persist next year to try to locate the breeding spot for the salamanders they know are present.

Stacy says Onedia had success this year, so sometimes it pays to keep trying.

Juniper tried a new site: the Chaffey Waterfowl Production Area, near Gillett. Only 1 of the 5 ponds had salamanders. She was intrigued by the tiny fairy shrimp in several of the ponds.

We were happy to welcome a number of new monitors:
Cody and Adam made a dedicated team, monitoring at Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary for a full month, but just weren't able to trap any salamanders. The geese took issue with the traps, so this site likely won't be easily surveyed.

Andrea risked slipping in over her boot tops to monitor at Barkhausen. No salamanders, but there were green frog tadpoles.

Phil had more Spring Peepers than salamanders in his traps at Pope Lake State Natural Area--but at least he had salamanders! (Blue-Spotted).

Jim was only to monitor for 1 day, April 6, and had a Blue Spotted Salamander at NEW Zoo/Reforestation Camp pond.

Chris and Anna monitored the Rat River Wildlife Area. Plenty of mud minnows, some sticklebacks were found in the traps, chorus frogs calling nearby, and a large wood frog egg mass. With this first year's experience, they now have a good idea of what to look for, for next year's site.

Ashley monitored 1000 Islands at Kaukauna. The traps were trashed by someone the first night, but she repaired them and persisted. Then the dam released a lot of water and the pools that were isolated became part of the river. No salamanders found, but she'll be checking for other possible sites for next year.











P.O. Box 1, Green Bay, WI 54305