We learned that some animals have bright colors on their bodies to warn predators that they are poisonous. Click here to listen to visiting field biologist Emilie explain the message the bright yellow spots on this Yellow Spotted Salamander sends.
On March 11, 2016, Room 2 walked to the vernal with great anticipation! Dr. Erickson told us that if we had a warm rain on Thursday night we might hear sounds of activity. As we approached the vernal pool, we actually heard sounds so loud that we could not believe they were coming from the vernal pool. We have made 13 trips since September and never heard a peep before now. The Spring Peepers had arrived!
After a school year of observing the vernal pool, kindergarteners in Mrs. Wyman’s class traveled down to the pool on Thursday, March 10th to do a winter/spring trip. It was a warm day for March standards, but a little on the wet side. These young biologists were not deterred….when they got there, they noted “sound” and thought it was perhaps birds. However, Mrs. Wyman correctly identified it as Spring Peepers who made their appearance. Dr. Windmiller had commented to Mrs. Erickson earlier in the week, that if we had a warm rain on Thursday night, that we might hear more activity after that. And we certainly had a warm rain on Thursday night. Mrs. Erickson took a mid-day walk to check if there had been any changes. And as she got closer and closer to the pool, she heard a lot of noise, and wondering if it was faraway road noise. But that was not the case at all when she got closer. On Friday, March 11th, the pool was full of beautiful amphibian sounds. This was about a full month earlier than last year. Check out this video and see how many different sounds you can hear! Unfortunately, I did not take any still pictures at the vernal pool, but this is the brook that was partially frozen this past Monday.
A lot of you asked questions about whether frogs have teeth. Watch this video link to learn about their teeth, what they use them for, and if they lose their teeth like you do . Thanks to Bryan and Emilie for their answers to this topic.
Many kindergarteners were wondering what happens to the tadpoles when they return to the vernal pool. Some hypothesized that they hide under a rock in the classroom tanks because they think we are the predators. That is a correct assumption. Others also thought correctly that they would live longer in the tank because there are no predators. That is another correct assumption. Vernal pools can be dangerous places for little tadpoles. There are many predators that live in the pool that like to eat the tadpoles. Another danger is that many pools dry up before the tadpoles have a chance to change into froglets.
Finally, listen to Bryan and Emile’s responses to your questions.
Here are some examples of two wood frog tadpoles/froglets that were released today into the vernal pool on the Case Campus. What differences do you notice?
Dr. Bryan Windmiller and Emile Schuler, of Grassroots Wildlife Conservation, replied to some of our kindergarten questions about the tadpoles. Thanks for helping us learn more about these fascinating creatures!
- What kind of frogs will they become? They will become wood frogs.
- What will happen to the tadpoles with the air bubbles? These tadpoles will be fine. The air bubble works its way out.
- Are the front legs webbed? Wood frogs do not have front legs that are webbed. This is because they live mainly on the land. Their back legs are barely webbed.
- Why do front legs come after the back legs? When the tadpoles have their back legs, they can still swim. But once they start to develop their front legs, it makes it a lot harder for them to swim. Once they develop those front legs, they need to be in shallower water. At this stage, they have lost their gills and are developing lungs, so they will be ready for land.
- Do they freeze in the winter? In the winter, wood frogs hide under the leaf litter and logs. They will freeze totally in the winter.
- When they are frogs, what sounds will they make? Listen to this audio link to hear what a wood frog chorus sounds like. This will be like when we first traveled to the vernal pool.
- When they are frogs, what will they eat? Even though most people think frogs eat flies, the wood frogs eat insects that are found on the ground and under logs in the woods. They like to eat small pillbugs, beetles, and millipedes.
- How and why do frogs communicate with each other? Frogs do communicate with one another. Males and females make different sounds. An alarm sound is very squeaky. Wood frogs can also communicate by knowing that female wood frogs are redder in color and males are browner in color. Wood frogs also can tell who are their brothers and sisters by smell. Some frogs, living by bodies of water like waterfalls, actually communicate by waving to one another.