Autumn Ambystomas

Jefferson

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Here in metro Detroit, the weather is cooling down, the skies are fading to gray, and cool fall rains are beginning to fall. Along with that trend, I took the opportunity to visit a local nature park and search for some sallies. I found a few Wood Frogs within the first few minutes of hiking, saw some interesting birds, and then flipped a beauty of an Ambystoma- a Tremblay's Salamander. I still use the three-subspecies system for the hybrid unisexuals (Tremblay's, Silvery, Kelley's Island) just because I think it's cool. Immediately upon seeing its blue spots, my first inclination was to just mark it down as another laterale, but the shape of its head and the ridges on it then caught my attention and made me remember the Jefferson's and Kelley's Island Salamanders that I had seen in Ohio. What a cool sally, and if we get some nighttime rain here in MI, I could finally capitalize on all of my Eastern Tiger research. Happy herping everyone!
 

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ron1fritsch

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Nice finds Jefferson. I live in NW Chicago land area. I have been finding newly transformed Tigers under wood and rocks in my area. I have traveled to south central WI several weeks ago and found in,serveral eastern newts, two efts (under 1.5"), blue spotted sals and some tigers as well. When the next rains come, they will be moving again.
 

sde

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Very cool!! The herps are starting to come out around here to! :happy:
 

Jefferson

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I am glad for you guys as well, and thank you for the kind words. By the way, do you find that out there in Illinois, the adult Tiger sallies can be seen while road cruising during fall rains like metamorphs?
 

FrogEyes

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We're finally getting some evening [all day actually] fall rains in SoMN, but sleepless children have kept me from hitting the roads. A couple weeks back I found my first eastern tiger, but it was a fresh roadkill. I've identified other good locations in the area, so hopefully will be able to turn some up. They're rather pretty here, being mainly blackish with small yellow spots. Unfortunately, most of the other caudates in the state will require a 3 hour drive one-way. A few are found closer, but identifying their localities is tricky, and the driving tends to find only one species. At worst, I should be able to find mudpuppies and some more A.laterale close to home.


There is an argument to be made for using a single species [not subspecies] name for all hybrid Ambystoma, mainly that all seem to share mtDNA ancestry with a single extinct species related to A.texanum and A.barbouri. However, the three available names have been applied to a group which potentially includes more than 30 different genetic combinations, about half of which have actually been documented. None meet any useful definition of a species, as they don't reproduce themselves. Depending on which species or hybrid they interbreed with, a single clutch of siblings can include essentially pure members of five distinct species (A.texanum, A.tigrinum, A.laterale, A.jeffersonianum, A.barbouri), plus an array of hybrids. How kleptogens ["DNA thieves"] can survive where only a single pure species occurs is still a puzzle, but might be due to a combination of a survival advantage for the kleptogens, and continued transfer of foreign chromosomes into the offspring of pure species. IE, in MN, one population of hybrids is known, but A.texanum, A.barbouri, and A.jeffersonianum are unknown. Presumably A.jeffersonianum occurred at some time, and the hybrids have continued to interbreed with A.laterale, producing more hybrids as well as pure A.laterale. A.jeffersonianum don't reappear, probably because there are never enough A.jeffersonianum chromosomes (LLJ x LL = LLJ, LL; LJ combination inviable].
 

FrogEyes

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I did find a live eastern tiger a couple of nights ago, around 1am near where I found the road kill. We had torrential rains which caused flash-flooding one county over and which made the road hard to see at times. I drove for a couple hours before finding one salamander close to home! More rain this afternoon and evening, so might be another chance when I run to the video store.
 
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