Sunday, April 8, 2007

Spotted Salamanders Breeding

4/7/07 - Observed Spotted Salamander spermatophores and very fresh egg masses in Hammond Woods (see photos). The Spotted Salamander migrates to vernal pools on rainy nights in early spring. Once in the pond, males and females form mating aggregations called "congresses" and males deposit spermatophores on the pond bottom. Females deposit gelatinous egg masses, usually attached to submerged woody debris. Although common to abundant throughout Massachusetts, this species is uncommon to rare in Newton because of our urban environment and lack of vernal pools (see upcoming article on Newton's vernal pools). The egg masses I observed on Saturday were very fresh. Given the large size of the zygote, I was actually able to observe a cleavage furrow with the naked eye, as these fertilized eggs were in the process of dividing into 2 celled embryos!

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