Burlington’s Salamanders

Original article by Erin Criger of City News Toronto

Jefferson-hybrid-salamander Photo By: Calvin Knaggs

Photo By: Calvin Knaggs

Can large cities help out our little amphibian friends? Well the City of Burlington sure is! Burlington is helping the Endangered Jefferson salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum) by closing a three-kilometer section of King road during salamander migration season. This road, stretched between North Service Road and Mountain Brow Road, is crossed by these little guys every spring to access their breeding grounds. Like most Ontario salamanders, the Jefferson salamander spends the winter hibernating underground, and in spring seeks fish free, ephemeral pools to breed and lay their eggs. The eggs are deposited in clumps attached to underwater vegetation, and hatch into tiny larva within 2-3 weeks. By midsummer, the pools are almost dry and the larvae slowly transform by losing their gills in exchange for air breathing lungs. Soon they will leave the pond, and head into the surrounding forest to forage for tiny insects and find new winter hibernation sites.

Juvenile Jefferson SalamanderPhoto By: Scott Gillingwater

Juvenile Jefferson Salamander
Photo By: Scott Gillingwater

Kim Barrett of Conservation Halton has sent us this update: “None [of the salamanders] have moved yet, but we are hoping that with some warmer temperatures later this week (and some rain), we may see some action next week. The City requires about a week’s notice on the dates for the annual road closure so that they can post signs, notify local residents, EMS, etc. We made the decision on dates last week based on what looked like a favorable long-term forecast at the time, but unfortunately the warmth and rain have not yet materialized. Definitely a later spring this year- our closure dates for last year were March 8-29.” It is likely with this year’s cold weathe that the road will be closed until April 8.

For more information on the Jefferson salamander, checkout this MNR Fact Sheet