Herping for Ambystomas in WNC

Jdz285

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Hey y'all. I was wondering if any hase any experience experience herping in the WNC area. I have been on an endless search for Spotted Salamanders and Marbleds. Supposedly they are numerous in some areas but I have not been able to find any. Searched near vernal pools and isolated wooded areas and still have no luck. Any tips or areas you folks know about? Thanks!
 

Jefferson

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Hello,

As Jennenewt notes aptly above, it's general website etiquette not to ask for or exchange specific locales for salamanders in open forums. However, that doesn't mean we can't share general habitat, seasonality, regional advice...etc. Just an FYI for future posts of this nature! We don't mean to be harsh, but collection is a big problem in the herp world. On to my general advice.

I don't know how experienced of a herper you are, so if the advice is a little basic, forgive me. My experience with Spotted Salamanders in Michigan, Virginia, and Tennessee has been that in the deep North (Mich), they're most easily seen on migration night by driving wetland roads or searching around vernal pools with flashlights, but can also be flipped in the off-season (generally mid-April to October) around pools or in adjacent uplands. The southern states are another story. It gets hot enough consistently enough that most attempts to flip A. maculatum under cover anytime other than late fall or a narrow window at about migration time in spring will be in vain. There have been reams of ink spilled trying to explain the timing and biological triggers of Ambystoma migrations, including this paper: https://encompass.eku.edu/cgi/viewc...le.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1054&context=etd.

Predicting Spotted sally migration is part art, part science. Just find several good vernal pool areas and try to time up the migration, and don't be adverse to trying adjacent regions and counties in case of some local anomalous absence. You'll get them eventually.

As for Marbled, April is not the time to be out flipping for them. In the SC Coastal Plain, I found them in mid-February before, and I've been told they're active basically Nov-Feb, when temps are cool and weather wet. For the mountains of Virginia (and presumably North Carolina--I live in the Shenandoah Valley), Marbled sallies tend to breed in mid September-mid October, and can be flipped with some regularity during that season if you have a good spot for them. If you venture to a vernal pool multiple times from September 1 to October 31 and never find an A. opacum, they probably aren't there. Also, I know that the Western NC mountains have A. opacum, but something tells me they'll probably be more common in the Piedmont region where there is more standing water, so if you can afford the time to go an hour or two east and do some preemptive research, I might also do that.

Hope this helps, and happy herping!
 
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